The World Travel and Tourism Council's chief on Thursday urged governments to provide incentives for companies to produce sustainable aviation fuel on a wider scale, in a push to reduce the sector's carbon footprint.
Transport makes up 40 per cent of the travel and tourism sector's greenhouse gas emissions, out of which 36 per cent comes from international aviation and two-thirds from domestic flights and ground transport, according to the WTTC.
“In the hard-to-abate area of jet fuel for aviation, we need to support the urgent production of sustainable aviation fuels,” WTTC president and chief executive Julia Simpson said, praising recent legislation in the US and Europe to support higher production.
Ms Simpson was speaking at the opening of the WTTC's annual global summit, held for the first time in Africa, in the Rwandan capital Kigali.
The opening was attended by presidents, ministers, government officials and tourism sector stakeholders.
“The truth is right now, we're simply not making enough [sustainable aviation fuel]. So I urge every minister in this room, take a look at SAF production in your country. It's actually quite a good investment opportunity as well,” Ms Simpson said.
Switching to electric ground vehicles, sourcing renewable energy and expanding the production of sustainable aviation fuel will help reduce the transport sector's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.
“If we can crack those three, we will massively reduce the impact on the environment from the travel and tourism sector,” Ms Simpson said.
The issue of urgent climate action and taking measures for sustainable travel and tourism were the dominant themes at the WTTC gathering.
Tanzania's President Samia Suluhu Hassan in her speech emphasised the need for African countries to prioritise environmental conservation in order for the tourism industry to make strides in its future growth.
“Africa is regarded as the guardian of nature,” she said.
If the continent aims to continue relying on natural attractions, it is imperative to conserve and preserve its natural sites and cultural traditions, she said.
“We in Africa should emphasise eco-tourism, which prompts responsible travel to natural areas and provides economic benefits to local communities,” she said.
Rwanda's President Paul Kagame also said that conservation is a big part of his country's strategy to build a more sustainable future.
In a separate panel, Paul Griffiths, the chief executive of Dubai Airports, said the global tourism industry and governments need to work together on a common strategy to achieve sustainability goals more urgently.