It's 2023. Climate change, oil shortages, and population growth have become pressing issues. What will the tourism industry look--and more importantly, will there even be a tourism industry? That's the question that Tourism 2023, an initiative from Forum of the Future, is aiming to find out.
Tourism 2023 partnered with companies like British Airways, Carnival UK, and Advantage Travel Centres to analyze the impact our ever-growing ecological footprint will have on travel in the U.K. The results, presented in four scenarios, are somewhat surprising.
In the "Boom and Burst" scenario, economies prosper, advances in air travel make vacations cheap and easy, and fuel efficiency has allowed the industry to stay on target with carbon emissions regulations. But there's a catch--the massive increase in tourism leads to overcrowding in many destinations and the degradation of wilderness areas.
The more dire "Divided Disquiet" scenario imagines that a "toxic combination of devastating climate change impacts, violent wars over scarce resources and social unrest has created an unstable and fearful world. This has made traveling overseas an unattractive proposition," so most people just stay home. In the "Price and Privilege" scenario, high oil prices make travel the exclusive domain of the rich, while the "Carbon Clampdown" scenario imagines that the government has regulated climate change and educated the public so thoroughly on the carbon price of travel that most people only want to take "ethical vacations" to volunteer or learn about other cultures.
The reality of vacationing in 2023 will probably be a combination of these scenarios, with high oil prices, disappearing wilderness, carbon quotas, and advances in air travel (i.e. biofuel-powered planes).
So how can the tourism industry prepare? Tourism 2023 suggests holding workshops and exercises for employees to simulate possible futures. But the most effective option may be to start making changes now--LEED certify your hotel, offer carbon offsets, advertise volunteer opportunities. It probably won't pay off now, but it just might in 2023.
[Via Tourism 2023]