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Asia's travel industry needs to respond to growing public and business concerns over climate change, says PATA

Asia's travel industry needs to respond to growing public and business concerns over climate change, says PATA | PATA, Pacific Asia Travel Association, Peter de Jong, GlobeScan, PricewaterhouseCoopers, McKinsey & Company

Peter de Jong, PATA President & CEO
Thu 3 Apr 2008 – The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) says the travel industry should take heed of the results of recent polls that show Asian consumers and businesses are increasingly anxious about the impacts of climate change. A recent survey found that people in Asia were generally more fearful than Europeans about the threat and another survey discovered Asian CEOs were apprehensive that climate change would lead to rising energy costs.
 
“Some observers have suggested that Asia lags behind Europe and other regions in expressing concern about climate change,” says PATA President and CEO, Peter de Jong. “But these polls show that Asians are worried and the travel industry needs to be responding to these concerns. More than ever, there is a need to understand that our customers are demanding that we take action, proactively and decisively, to reduce our carbon footprint.”
 
A GlobeScan survey of 1,000 consumers from 20 countries on five continents conducted between May and August 2007 found that people in Asia were generally more worried than Europeans that climate change would pose a threat to themselves and their family (80% or more in China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines, compared with 74% in Italy, 69% in Britain and 58% in Germany).
 
However, the survey also found that Asians felt less able than Europeans to tackle climate change. Some 93% of Indonesians, 76% of Indians and 63% of Chinese felt there was little that individuals could do about climate change. Conversely, only 40% of Germans, 43% of British and 38% of Italians felt ineffective.
 
Asian business leaders are also anxious, reports a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey of 1,150 CEOs in 50 countries conducted between September and November 2007. It found that 79% of Asian CEOs were worried that climate change would lead to rising energy costs. A further 67% were concerned about higher compliance and insurance bills; 59% about supply-chain disruptions; 46% about greater pressure from stakeholders to deal with climate change; and 46% about the physical damage climate change could inflict.
 
Last month, a McKinsey & Company survey found that 55% of consumers now believe that environmental issues, including climate change, will be the most important in the next five years, a 5% increase on 2006. The survey also found that 51% of business executives felt the same, a notable increase of 20%.
 
“Consumers are demanding that the travel industry, like all industries, be accountable for its impact on the health of the planet. That’s why we need to get on the front foot and start sharing innovative ideas and best practice solutions,” says de Jong.
 
“Asian hoteliers, tour operators and industry players who believed climate change was not a significant issue were not only out of touch with consumer attitudes, but also ran the risk of encouraging governments and regulators to act on their behalf.
 
“The nature of tourism makes it a soft target for lobby groups and regulators. The truth is, if we don’t self-regulate, and quickly, governments will do it for us. And that’s where the pain will be.”
 
PATA is hosting the inaugural PATA CEO Challenge in Bangkok on April 29-30, at which leaders from all sectors of the travel and tourism industry are expected to share practical initiatives and ideas to counter the effects of climate change. Ahead of the Challenge, PATA is hosting blog discussions on the travel industry’s response to climate change at www.ceochallenge.pata.org/blog/.
 
 
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