Rifai: move into green economy
UNWTO will launch the Measurement of Sustainable Tourism (MST) index as a holistic measure of tourism at its International Conference on Statistics in the Philippines next month, announced secretary general Taleb Rifai.
Speaking during the UNWTO/PATA Ministerial Debate at PATA Annual Summit at Negombo, Sri Lanka last weekend, Rifai said the MST will take a holistic look at tourism impacts and benefits to a country’s socio-economic wellbeing instead of relying on arrivals alone.
“For years we have been relying on arrivals as (a measurement) but we need to examine the impacts in terms of the economy, jobs, society and communities,” he said.
“We need to move into a truly green economy. Growth and sustainability must go hand in hand," he added. "We have to fight climate change; five per cent of carbon emissions comes from travel and of this two per cent is from transport."
More destinations are now moving away from the 'numbers game' and instead are focusing on courting high-spending visitors who bring in more revenue and smaller carbon footprint, panellists at the session revealed.
Deepak Raj Joshi, CEO of Nepal Tourism Board, said his country has restricted travel to certain sites due to over-visitation, while Mirza Mohamed Taiyab, director general of Tourism Malaysia, said the Malaysian government has identified ecotourism as a way to leverage the country's rich natural assets and benefit local communities at the same time.
According to Hiran Cooray, chairman of Jetwing Hotels, Sri Lanka's strict environmental protection laws has made it compulsory for every hotel to install a sewage treatment plant while renewable energy plants are encouraged.