High energy costs, water scarcity, an ageing population and terrorism are likely to dramatically change the tourism landscape over the next 14 years, according to a report on the future of tourism.
Tourism 2023, a “what-if?” report from sustainability think tank Forum for the Future, suggests that climate change could drastically change the destinations that people are willing to visit, and that a ballooning population in Asia will lead to a dramatic shift in tourism traffic patterns that could cause congestion problems at a number of global transport hubs.
“Against this backdrop of a changing climate and increasing pressures from growing populations, we can expect the cost of key resources such as food, building materials and energy to rise in many places as demand grows and supplies fail to keep pace,” the report said.
It posits four possible scenarios for the state of the tourism market in 2023, all of which suggest the industry will face major changes as a result of climate change impacts and emerging clean technologies.
“Boom and bust” describes a world in which new technologies make green travel easier, and where an ageing population takes medical holidays for cheap operations elsewhere.
In contrast, “divided disquiet” suggests that political instability will have made many world destinations unpalatable, except for doomsday tourism, where people flock to see rapidly disappearing natural resources.
Finally, the report warns that a “price and privilege” scenario could see rising fuel and energy costs make long-distance travel too expensive for most people, while a “carbon clampdown” where legislative measures such as personal carbon credits combine with greater education on the risks associated with climate change could similarly lead to reduced demand for international travel.
The publication of the report was accompanied by the launch of a new coalition of leading industry players, including trade association ABTA, British Airways, Carnival UK, The Co-operative Travel, The Travel Foundation, Thomas Cook and TUI Travel, which will aim to develop more sustainable tourism practices by 2023.
“It is vital that the travel and tourism industry meets the challenges that an international industry faces if we want to have a successful and profitable future,” said Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive. “By working together we can come up with practical and innovative solutions to these challenges, which make sound commercial sense.”
The group is expected to focus on measures for promoting low carbon destinations and travel options, reducing landfill waste, better returning economic benefits back to local communities, and improving resort water efficiency.