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The Industry Gathers for a Thought-Provoking Event on Sustainable Tourism Practices

The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) successfully held its inaugural World Earth Day Lunch on Friday, April 21, 2023, with the theme for event being a touch of green. The largest gathering for a CATO event in Queensland, the event boasted over 80 attendees from all sectors of the travel industry and was held at Fortitude Valley's urban-style resort, The Calile Hotel, selected for its notable sustainability initiatives.

Major sponsor for the event and MC, Sean Martin, Managing Director, APAC of G Adventures spoke about the company's mission to change people's lives through travel and its sustainability initiatives. G Adventures is working towards a net positive impact on the planet. In partnership with Brisbane-based Reforest, G Adventures also gifted all attendees the opportunity to plant a tree by scanning a QR code.

Emanuele Attanasio from the Italian National Tourist Board, supporting sponsor of the event, highlighted the importance of sustainability in Italy and measures that can be taken to avoid over-tourism. In Italy, 48% of the population are interested in sustainable tourism, and several initiatives have been implemented towards sustainable infrastructure and responsible travel.

A panel discussion, moderated by Sean Martin, featured Damian Perry (Hurtigruten – supporting sponsor of the event), Michelle Degenhardt (Flight Centre Travel Group), Heidi Hauf (Boeing), and Toni Ambler (The Travel Corporation). The panellists discussed challenges in promoting responsible travel, the need for education and standardising sustainable tourism measurements, and strategies for decarbonising the travel industry.

Key takeaways from the event emphasised the importance of developing a genuine understanding of responsible travel practices, initiating sustainability-focused activities within businesses, and working collaboratively and transparently as an industry. Working with a global framework such as SDG’s, supporting the growth of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and raising awareness among the flying public, tourism operators, corporate leaders, and policymakers were also identified as crucial steps.

“As the peak industry body for the land-supply sector, it is important that we take a lead in highlighting the need for a sustainable and responsible approach to travel. Highlighting insights provided by Heidi Hauf from Boeing, our industry is responsible for 3% of global carbon emissions and although we are not some of the highest emissions industries, we still make a significant contribution” said Brett Jardine, Managing Director of CATO.

“We look forward to this becoming an annual event in the calendar to support the wider industry” added Jardine.

"Inspiring innovative & sustainable travel"

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