Tourism conference takes green approach

By: Graham Gardiner


This year’s Tourism Futures conference has a strong environmental agenda, encouraging the industry to look for creative solutions to climate

This year’s Tourism Futures conference has a strong environmental agenda, encouraging the industry to look for creative solutions to climate change.

Hosted by Tourism Australia, Tourism Queensland and Gold Coast Tourism, the event will be held at the Gold Coast from August 17 to 19.

Keynote speaker Stefan Gossling from Lund University in Sweden says Australian tourism business models are in need of a re-structure.

"When the economy emerges from the current recession, Australia tourism should look to relaunch itself with a more environmentally compatible business model," he says.

"Such a refocus would see Australia abandon targets for increasingly high volumes of tourists. The only strategy for success into the future is in an industry where visitors stay longer and spend more."

Gossling says tourism is more severely affected by climate change than any other sector.

"Consumers are keen to support green destinations and green products, although it is not clear if they are willing to pay extra for such items.

"Some businesses have started carbon neutralising schemes, and while many have failed I think there is enormous scope to ‘harvest’ the financial support of the travelling public," he says.

Conference convenor Tony Charters says embracing the emissions challenge poses a confronting reality check for the Australian industry.

"The Tourism Futures conference was borne out of the post 9/11 crisis and the industry has had to weather SARS, various dramas in the aviation sector and now the global financial crisis, but climate change is the biggest challenge we are facing," he says.

"Each business must respond to climate change, through direct practices that will reduce their carbon footprint and through adaptations to their business that will set them up to cope with climate changes that are inescapable."

The conference will help motivate the industry by offering creative solutions and strategies, according to Charters.

"These issues are not insurmountable, but it will take fortitude and lateral thinking for our industry to make an impact and contribute to our own survival," he says.

Tourism Futures takes a forward perspective on the industry, evaluating a 10-year timeframe and examining opportunities for the future.

The Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort and Spa will be this year’s venue.

For more information go to www.tourismfutures.com.au.

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