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  • Writer's pictureGREEN Hospitality

Recent Trends Driving the Future of Travel & Tourism

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

COVID-19’s impact on the Travel and Tourism industry was immense. But it prompted businesses, both private and government sectors around the world to relook and rethink the future of this industry.

Pre-pandemic, travel and tourism (T&T) industry was one of the fastest growing worldwide and a major source of income and employment, accounting for 10% of global GDP in 2019. That percentage dropped by half in 2020 as countries around the globe restricted their borders in attempts to curtail the virus spread. However, with the increased focus on vaccination, travel has become an option once again, and recovery for T&T sectors finally seems to be within reach.


A discussion on tourism resilience held by the World Bank in March 2021 mentioned the need for a green approach for post-COVID tourism. Taking a cue from this, on 27th September 2021, which is ‘World Tourism Day’, we organised a GREEN Talk on ‘Reimagining Hong Kong as a Green Destination’.


The aim was to discuss ‘what should sustainable tourism look like in Hong Kong? And its role in accelerating green recovery and future?’


To answer these questions, we were joined by three distinguished panelists: Dr. Lawal Marafa, Founding Director of CUHK’s Postgraduate programme of Sustainable Tourism, Ms. Sindy Wong, Head of Tourism and Hospitality at InvestHK and Prof. Brian King, Associate Dean of PolyU’s School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM). This panel discussion moderated by our Executive Director, Ms. Lucia Loposova, was attended by 30 other participants. After setting the context, she invited the panelists to share their views, observations and trends in the industry.


Initiating the discussion, Dr Marafa gave an overview of the current situation, and talked about the issue of COVID-19 variants and mutations creating great uncertainty in the industry as it begins preparing for the return of tourists. He also talked about trends like ‘revenge’ travel and ‘proximity’ travel on a rise due to, (a) an overwhelming need to go on a vacation after a long period of lockdown and, (b) the ever-changing regulations, varying from country-to-country, triggering domestic travel.


Shifting the discussion to Hong Kong, Prof. Brian King underlined the green impact of decreased outbound travel, which greatly reduced the carbon footprint in the city. A trend, also observed globally, he described as being a ‘reset’. Beside this he also drew attention to an increasing shift towards a more slower and holistic lifestyle, a development he hoped would reflect in business and social practices promoting greater sustainable living.


Adding to this, Ms. Sindy Wong highlighted that the pandemic led to an expansion of priorities for InvestHK’s Department of Tourism and Hospitality. There is an increased focus on encouraging food technology and trading companies to enter Hong Kong so that a larger selection of non-dairy, sustainably-grown, plant-based options, as well as produce grown via hydroponics, is readily available in the city.


An interesting point brought up by Prof. Brian King, which really resonated with us, was that of an expansion of PolyU’s SHTM curriculum to reflect rising demands for tourism & hospitality students to be equipped with greater knowledge and insights on sustainability. He said that representatives of major T&T leaders, such as the HK Convention and Exhibition Center, Marriott and the Mandarin Oriental, currently encourage and request for sustainability and environmental governance to be included into university curriculums.


In conclusion, it was agreed that the travel and tourism industry, which suffered an immense setback due to the pandemic, is poised for a cautious but optimistic recovery. Relaxing border restrictions and increased vaccination roll outs will help the industry to gradually recover. Furthermore, an increasing green consciousness, especially amongst locals as well as major T&T actors, can hopefully better prepare students, business owners and travellers to allow this growth to occur sustainably.


If you are interested in speaking at a future GREEN Talk, feel free to contact us via hello@greenhospitality.io.

For more information on upcoming events, view our events calendar here.



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