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Duke at eco-summit

Prince Harry warns tourism destroying world’s hot spots

The Duke at the rostrum: ‘Just call me Harry’, he said

Prince Harry told a gathering of travel industry representatives in Edinburgh today that without action a many of the world’s most beautiful destinations will be destroyed by tourism.

In an address to 100 delegates the EICC he spoke up for the benefits of travel, but warned that it had to be controlled.

“We believe travel is a good thing. It is the heart of human experience, of cultural connections, and of new friendships,” he said.

“It is a global powerhouse that employs hundreds of millions of people, keeping culture alive, protecting some of the world’s most precious spaces, and that introduces us to people, places and wildlife that we’ve only ever seen on a screen.”

Harry: beautiful destinations may be closed or destroyed

However, he added: “It is predicted that tourism will reach over 1.8 billion travellers by 2030.

“If we do not act, and in large part get ahead of this inevitable surge, this massive increase will mean we see more of the world’s beautiful destinations closed or destroyed, more communities becoming overwhelmed, more beaches shut because of pollution, and animals and wildlife driven from their natural habitat, which has a huge impact on communities and reduces tourism opportunities.

“But we are here to find ways to make sure that does not happen.”

He was speaking on behalf of his Travalyst initiative which has brought together some of the biggest operators in the travel industry – including Visa, and Skyscanner – to help travellers pick low carbon options more easily and chose destinations that will have more benefit to local communities.

We have to work together… to scale up the good practices already being used around the world

– Prince Harry, speaking at Travalyst event

The Duke of Sussex, who told his audience “just call me Harry”, also said: “We have to work together… to scale up the good practices already being used around the world. Scotland is a great example of what we mean. There is a holistic ambition to Scotland’s intent that can be adopted across the UK and even around the world.

“Scotland is one of the fastest growing tourism destinations worldwide and it’s at the forefront of a more sustainable approach, which is why your insight into these issues is so incredibly valuable.”

A spokesman for the Travalyst partnership said: ‘Our ambition is to transform travel and tourism so that every holiday people take, every trip they book, will have a positive impact and better protect the destinations and communities they visit. 

“Whether it is through the activities people do, where they stay, or how they get there, we are looking for ways to make it easier for everyone to choose, and for the industry to provide, more purposeful and sustainable options.” 

Prince Harry arrived in Edinburgh by train, stepping off a train at 6.22pm to be met by photographers. Today’s eco-summit was a strictly controlled media event.

It was his first public appearance since he and his wife Meghan attacked the decision to block them from using their Sussex Royal branding after stepping back from public life. 

It is understood the decision is a setback to their business plans.

Only last month they launched their new website, as well as registering their new charitable Foundation under the name ‘SussexRoyal’.

Rise of the eco-tourist

Climate change and sustainability will dictate tourism trends, says VisitScotland.

Visitors, aware of the environmental cost to travel, now seek to immerse themselves in a destination whilst limiting their impact and even “giving something back”, in what is being described as “transformational tourism”.

The concept forms the basis of the first Trends paper of the decade produced by the national tourism organisation and revealed today at the Travalyst summit in Edinburgh.

“The future of tourism is ensuring that visitors receive the transformation they seek while understanding the needs of locals and the environment,” according to Trends 2020: Travelling towards transformational tourism.

Eco-Travel has been identified by the tourism body’s Insight team as one of six travel trends expected to impact the industry over the next 18 months.

Searches for “eco-friendly travel” on Pinterest have risen by 73% this year with “eco-city concept” searches up by 46%.

Destinations with “green credentials” are increasing in popularity while opportunities for visitors to contribute to sustainable projects are key attractors, the Insight paper notes.

The paper notes that over the last decade there has been a “seismic shift” in the supply and demand approach to tourism in the industry, from a focus on visitor growth to using the sector as an “economic lever” for employment and social cohesion.

For travellers, it has moved from looking for experiential destinations, driven by picture-led social media channels, to “transformational tourism” on the back trends such as wellness and mindfulness, in which their trips should have “meaning, challenge, connection and impact”.

In 2010 there were 14.7 million visitors to Scotland, contributing £4.1 billion in expenditure to the economy. The paper estimates that in 2019 we may see 16 million visitors, spending £5.5 billion, representing an annual average growth rate of about 2% trips per year and 4% expenditure.

Chris Greenwood, senior insight manager at VisitScotland, said: “For tourism businesses in Scotland to remain competitive, it is important to be informed of the trends and drivers which will be influencing the behaviour of travellers now and in to the future.

“Visitors are continuing to seek an authentic experience but one which isn’t at the expense of the destination. This presents an exciting opportunity for Scottish tourism to develop a world-class experience that benefits both the visitor and the local community, whilst protecting the environment which attracts travellers in the first place.”

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