Call to rethink travel and tourism education for the green growth era

BRUSSELS - Professor Geoffrey Lipman, Director of and of beyond tourism, speaking at the World Environment Forum in Jeju, South Korea, called for a rethink and revamp of traditional

Call to rethink travel and tourism education for the green growth era

BRUSSELS – Professor Geoffrey Lipman, Director of and of beyond tourism, speaking at the World Environment Forum in Jeju, South Korea, called for a rethink and revamp of traditional travel and tourism education systems for the impending green growth decades. Lipman told delegates preparing for next year’s IUCN Congress that: ”We rightly talk about a new green growth paradigm but then shortsightedly focus on the usual components – operations, marketing, economics, and financing. As usual education and training is a bit player. But it’s time to make it center stage.”

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Lipman described the framework of green growth as a four decade battle to decouple inclusive growth from carbon pollution, so as to stabilize the global temperature increase below 2 degrees celsius by 2050. He outlined the constructive role that travelism – transport, hospitality, tourism events, and travel services – must play and the key imperative of new visionary education and training action.

“It’s time to mainstream the incredible power of the immense travel and tourism value chain or what I call “travelism” as a positive green growth change agent – the ‘demand side’ activity of non-commuting travel for business, leisure, international, and the far larger domestic element, as well as the ‘supply side’ industry cluster of transport, tourism, hospitality, distribution, and related delivery services, and its dynamic spill over into culture, sport, entertainment, and mega-events.

He profiled the sector as a massive contributor to shared growth, trade, and jobs with a great potential for creating human happiness and a relatively small carbon footprint that could meet the evolving Copenhagen/Cancun government norms.

Lipman also referred to the need to shift from triple bottom-line thinking of economic, social, and environmental balance to a quadruple bottom-line vision where climate is a crosscutting and distinct game-changing reality that has to be a starting point for all strategy. Calling for concerted and coherent public and private sector action in line with the UN World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) Roadmap for Recovery and the IATA/ICAO Carbon Neutral 2050 Plan, he said that aviation must be strongly supported for its pivotal role in the shared growth and development agenda.

At the heart of this progressive but intensive change, there must be a new approach to education. Lipman continued: ”Transport, hospitality, travel events, and tourism services have so far evolved in their own educational silos with differentiated quality and limited connectivity, with little coherence in fundamental school, vocational, entrepreneurship, graduate, and postgraduate components nor between public and private sectors, nor a leadership mindset attuned to the potential global positioning of the sector.”

“Green Growth offers a chance to rectify that, because it will mean a strategic re-orientation in all education systems – with the possibility to fully integrate travelism, with an even better academic underpinning to its own transformation.”

According to Lipman, who is working to position travelism in a planned World Environment University that sustainability pioneer and activist Maurice Strong is encouraging for Jeju Island, such an initiative could:

• create an education focal point for academic, industry, and government thought leaders committed to the mainstreaming of travelism in green growth;

• help to underpin the sector’s educational revamp – putting quadruple bottom-line sustainability and smart travel into curricula;

• spawn a network of networks in the education field committed to realizing this paradigm shift thinking through best practice learning techniques – with a strong emphasis on new media and mobile delivery; and

• provide a useful reference base for the new mindset among the key international organizations involved inside travelism, environmentalism, and academia from public, private, and civil society sources.