“Whether beach or skiing – that is not decisive”
Due to Corona, a great need for vacation has built up. Will we travel more consciously in the future? Jürgen Schmude, Professor of Tourism Economics and Sustainability at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, dares to make predictions.
WORLD ON SUNDAY: Will we travel more consciously and sustainably in the near future? How do you rate that?
Jürgen Schmude: Yes and no. We do not have the Tourists; there is an individualization, as in other parts of society. Of course, part of the population will travel more sustainably. But that will be a maximum of a quarter. But that is also quite a lot. Overall, you might travel differently, more cautiously. Don’t want to go so far away, avoid the plane because of the risk of infection – this also benefits sustainability.
WORLD ON SUNDAY: After Corona, won’t the desire to travel be so great that the holidaymakers can slip down sustainability?
Schmude: That’s not a new phenomenon. We Germans are more sustainable in everyday life than on vacation. At home we separate green glass from brown glass and plastic and paper – but in the “most beautiful weeks of the year”, the average says: leave me in peace with these issues. Sustainability is limited to not changing the towel every two days. That was the case before Corona and will be similar afterwards.
WORLD ON SUNDAY: Do the efforts to achieve sustainability have any effect at all? If the hotel in Thailand is eco-certified and the guest takes their plastic waste back home – does it make a difference?
Schmude: When it comes to the travel footprint, arrival and departure account for a good 70 percent. The on-site activity is not critical, be it the beach or skiing.
Unfortunately, very little is compensated, that is only about one percent. As long as airlines or tour operators don’t price this in from the outset, not much will happen. TUI gives holidaymakers the opportunity to offset with Myclimate – but hardly anyone clicks on it.
WORLD ON SUNDAY: Keyword greenwashing: We fly halfway around the world and have a few trees planted to compensate. Are we just calming our conscience?
Schmude: This is also known as the modern indulgence trade. Of course, it’s your conscience comfort, but doing nothing is even worse. Then better compensate.
WORLD ON SUNDAY: Assuming the western industrial nations change their travel behavior – won’t the effect be pulverized when the Asian middle class takes off?
Schmude: You have to leave the church in the village. European travelers account for 50 percent of international travel. We cannot shirk our responsibility there. Of course, other markets will grow strongly, but we will continue to make up a large share.