UN Sustainable Development Goals WTTC

Sustainable growth

The growth of Travel & Tourism continues to outpace that of the global economy for the ninth consecutive year. What’s more, international arrivals, which reached 1.5 billion in 2019, are forecast to reach 1.8 billion by 2030. It is essential, that together, we ensure that this growth is sustainable & inclusive and that it contributes positively to the communities, natural ecosystems, and cultural heritage upon which our sector depends.

WTTC works on a number of sustainable initiatives with leading associations & organisations to ensure that Travel & Tourism benefits people/businesses, as well as nature & the environment. These include:

Our latest reports on the environment and sustainability

Below are some of our latest reports on Travel & Tourism sustainability and the environment. 

Rethinking single use plastic products SUPPs in Travel & Tourism

COVID-19 has led to a proliferation of single-use plastic products (SUPPs), adding urgency to the global challenge of single-use plastic pollution, which has significant environmental impacts and negatively affects the attractiveness of destinations. Yet, the pandemic has also provided a unique opportunity to reflect on the changes required to build back a greener and more sustainable future. While the Travel & Tourism sector is increasingly implementing SUPP elimination strategies with the aim of moving towards more circular approaches, individual efforts are not enough. In order to ensure a transition towards reducing and reuse models, in line with circularity principles, it is vital for the public and private sectors to collaborate across the value chain, while implementing the right waste infrastructure at the destination level.

As part of WTTC’s partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and in order to tackle this issue, we have put together a joint report to support the sector to reduce or eliminate SUPPs where possible and move towards a more sustainable future.

Hear from industry leaders on why the report is important, as well as, an interview with one of the writers Jo Hendrickx, Co-founder of Travel Without Plastics.

Travel & Tourism's global footprint interactive website

WTTC and the Sustainable Tourism Global Centre, initiated by the Ministry of Tourism of Saudi Arabia, together with Oxford Economics, have estimated the full extent of Travel & Tourism's global economic, social, and environmental footprint. We have now launched a website which brings together data and key indicators on Travel & Tourism at a global, regional, and national level that will enable users to explore Travel &Tourism's global footprint through a range of different metrics.

Climate & environment action

Affordable air travel, a growing middle class, urbanisation and increased connectivity, new technological advances, disruptive businesses models and greater visa facilitation around the world have driven continuous international and domestic tourism growth over the past decades. At the same time, the increasingly negative effects of global warming have impacted people, nature and businesses all around the world.

Today, climate change represents one of the greatest global challenges of our time. Its impacts are extensive and are already felt at all levels: countries, businesses, and our own individual lives. They include extreme weather events, coastal erosion, biodiversity loss, destruction of infrastructure and property, disruption to cultural and natural heritage, as well as increasing stress on basic natural resources, among others.

Travel & Tourism both contributes to and is impacted by climate change, The sector, therefore, has a responsibility to be part of the change that is needed to mitigate impacts and adapt to the threats posed by climate change.

Human trafficking

Every day, the Travel & Tourism sector is unwittingly used for human trafficking as traffickers transport their victims on planes, trains and buses and book hotel rooms to exploit vulnerable individuals. Given the sector’s inadvertent position in the path of human traffickers, it has a role and responsibility to protect the individuals it serves, transports, accommodates, and employs; and is in a unique position to make a difference.

During 2020, COVID-19 dramatically exacerbated this global challenge with a rise in extreme poverty and in unemployment, with many men and women out of work, and many children out of school, making families and children more vulnerable than ever. In this context, it is essential that the sector come together to share and implement tangible solutions to end this global crime. As a sector, Travel & Tourism has the power and ability to counteract and to help prevent human trafficking.

Given the importance of this issue and the dedication of many World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Member organisations to end human trafficking, WTTC formed a Human Trafficking Taskforce which was launched at the 2019 Global Summit in Seville, Spain. To help eradicate human trafficking, the Taskforce developed an action framework that focuses on awareness-raising, education and training, advocacy, and support.

Destination stewardship

Destination stewardship is an approach that balances and meets the needs of a destination and its community. It requires active engagement from both public and private sectors with the local community.

The growth in Travel & Tourism over the past few years has seen many destinations around the globe become victims of their own success with terms like ‘overcrowding’, ‘overtourism’, and ‘tourismphobia’ dominating media headlines worldwide.

WTTC believes that Travel & Tourism should and can contribute positively to the communities upon which it depends while protecting cultural and natural heritage. In this context, WTTC convenes stakeholders from the public and private sectors, as well as local communities to devise strategies for tourism management based on long-term planning.

Destination Stewardship is essential for futureproofing Travel & Tourism and making destinations better places to live and visit.

In 2021, WTTC, European Tourism Futures Institute (ETFI) at NHL Stenden University and The Travel Foundation produced the latest report on Destination Stewardship focusing on “Achieving Destination Stewardship through Scenarios & a Governance Diagnostics Framework”. The report presents four Destination Stewardship scenarios based on different levels of engagement from the public & private sector and provides a framework for assessing the governance model in place to serve to support destination stakeholders in assessing their current context and the pathway towards greater stewardship.

Latest in Destination Stewardship: 

Community conscious travel

Community Conscious Travel is a movement to ensure that destinations remain thriving communities and good places to live through the pillars of social sustainability, dispersal and traveller behaviour. A renewed focus on these priorities can help ensure wider spending distribution that supports infrastructure more equally and a better experience for all. Of course, all of these must be supported by the private and public sectors.

Biodiversity & illegal wildlife trade

In recent years there has been a surge in the illegal wildlife trade amounting to US$20 billion annually, with over 7,000 species of animals and plants from all regions impacted. With wildlife being a key driver of Travel & Tourism activity, it is in the interest of the sector to support initiatives that protect them.

In April 2018, WTTC launched the Travel & Tourism Declaration on Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT), a commitment made by over 100 Members to participate actively in the global fight against illegal wildlife trade. Following the declaration, in October 2018, WTTC partnered with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to drive industry action.

In 2021, WTTC created industry guidelines for Members and the wider industry to encourage the adoption of a Zero Tolerance Policy to IWT.

In 2022, at Climate Week NY, we launched the 'Nature Positive Travel & Tourism' Report, created in partnership with Animondial, and endorsed by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD). This document is a road map for the industry to support businesses in understanding and managing their environmental impact.

Join the movement to make every journey count.

Sustainability leadership

Since 2019, WTTC has been collaborating with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health to support decision-makers in Travel & Tourism to broaden their understanding of sustainability, ensure the viability of the sector and the co-creation of thriving sustainable societies. In November 2019, WTTC and Harvard organised a 2-day transformational leadership and personal development programme focusing on sustainability which brought together 20 industry leaders and leading Harvard professors.

To drive sustainability leadership and help build a business case for sustainability in the sector, WTTC and faculty and scientists of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health released two vital case studies in May 2021 showcasing The Travel Corporation and Intrepid Travel. This collaboration encouraged the sharing of best practices and supported sustainability as a core strategic priority. To address sustainability from a thematic perspective, four learning insights have been released to delve into the culture of health, science-based targets, behavioural economics and leadership in sustainability.

Inclusion, diversity & social impact

Travel & Tourism has always been a sector for the people, by the people; relying on the wonders of this world to thrive. It is a sector that meaningfully changes the lives of the people and communities it touches. It not only creates jobs; but reduces poverty and inequality and enriches communities both economically and socially.

In 2019, 330 million people were employed by the sector, with Travel & Tourism accounting for 1 in 4 new jobs created in the last five years. Unlike many other sectors, Travel & Tourism is highly inclusive, employing and offering opportunities to people from all walks of life, including minorities, youth, and women, who account for 54% of the sector’s employment. The sector also fuels entrepreneurship, with 80% of our sector being SMEs. The Travel & Tourism sector has a unique ability to further protect and engage vulnerable groups and communities while fostering innovation and preserving ecosystems; ultimately having a tremendous social impact.

In light of the devastating impact of COVID-19 for the sector, there is an urgent need to come together to recover the hundreds of millions of jobs lost, and livelihoods impacted and continue supporting the millions benefiting from the sector by rebuilding together in an even more sustainable and responsible way. While the sector was on hold, world citizens have been re-invigorated to tackle social and environmental sustainability, providing a unique opportunity to build on this newfound momentum to accelerate meaningful changes in Travel & Tourism that will make a lasting difference for future generations and for the planet.

Sustainability reporting

The UN Sustainable Development Goals set a path towards the pursuit of global sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth. Goal 12 focuses on sustainable consumption and production, with the goal, 12.6, aims to “encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle”.

In this context, WTTC produced a report on sustainability reporting to help Travel & Tourism companies understand the key concepts behind reporting, to provide an outlook on the regulations and trends that are driving this practice forward, and to identify the implications and opportunities for the sector.

Future of work

The Travel & Tourism Sector accounts for 330 million jobs or one in ten jobs on the planet, a figure which is only forecasted to continue increasing. What’s more, in the last five years, the Travel & Tourism sector has accounted for the creation of one in four new jobs globally.

For the Travel & Tourism sector to support 421 million jobs by 2029, the sector must be able to successfully attract, upskill and retain qualified talent. The evolution in the Travel & Tourism space, along with shifts taking place across the global workforce, will require businesses and governments alike to pay special attention to talent models.

WTTC Future of Work Initiative

Strategic Partners:        AMEX  global Rescue   Ministry of Tourism Saudi Arabia