OTAs reproached for ignoring sustainability

Online travel agencies (OTAs) are failing to get behind the drive towards sustainable tourism.

Senior figures at the Travel Foundation, Abta and Tui Travel say the sector is lagging behind the rest of the industry when it comes to promoting sustainable tourism.

Travel Foundation acting chief executive Salli Felton said the challenge is to reach online and dynamic packaging companies.

She said: “We must change to reflect a changing industry, appealing to companies with new business models that in the past didn’t think they needed to consider sustainability.

“For instance, those involved in dynamic packaging often feel they have less control 
of and responsibility for product, which instantly creates a barrier to sustainable thinking.”

Tui sustainable development director Jane Ashton agreed that online agents should advocate responsible tourism. She said: “The biggest challenge is to involve more of the industry – 
in particular, the online retailers.”

Ashton said OTAs should highlight hotels that are certified by Abta’s Travelife scheme, adding: “It’s no secret when a hotel has a Travelife award.

“OTAs should be identifying them. I’m surprised they are not.”

Nikki White, head of sustainability at Abta, said: “Our next stage is working with the OTAs and for them to feature the Travelife information on their sites.

“I don’t think this is something we have to wait for customers to ask for, it’s something we should be doing as an industry.”

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