EXPERT PROFILE: TOURISM, COVID-19 AND SUSTAINABILITY - WHAT ROLE DOES THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY PLAY?

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PROF. DR. WILLY LEGRAND EXPLAINS THE CONNECTION BETWEEN TOURISM, COVID-19 AND SUSTAINABILITY

Bad Honnef, 13 May 2020 - In times of the Corona crisis, not only global health systems or effects on the overall economy are hotly debated at the moment, but also the tourism industry and the consequences for the environment are particularly in the focus of attention. But what are the reasons for the interaction between tourism, COVID-19 and sustainability? Prof. Dr. Willy Legrand, expert for hospitality management at the private and state-recognised IUBH International University of Applied Sciences, sheds light on the current connections from a scientific perspective.

 

COVID-19 - only a brief respite for nature?

In the past weeks, the everyday life of most people around the globe has changed drastically. They have learned to accept severe restrictions on their personal lives if it is necessary for the common good of society. But not only fellow human beings are affected by Corona. Nature also suffers," says Prof. Dr. Legrand. "According to initial observations, the lock-down does allow the animal and plant world to breathe a sigh of relief, but it is foreseeable that with reactivation of globally active sectors such as the travel industry, this short-lived progress will be undone." Fatal environmental problems will thus befall humanity again sooner or later if no further action is taken. So what changes are needed?

 

This is the role of the tourism industry

"Our challenge is to find the way of a sustainable use of natural resources. This is especially true for the tourism industry," explains the professor of hospitality management. The development and operation of hotels contribute to pollution and climate change. "Desirable are definitely CO2-neutral hotels. Short delivery routes as well as using local goods, for example, are a step in the right direction. Every company should develop a clear roadmap to protect the biodiversity of its environment, to preserve forests to compensate for greenhouse gas emissions and to avoid taking tourists to places where the original nature is interfered with," Prof. Dr. Legrand continues.

 

 

 

Bye-bye virus, hello sustainability: This is how solutions are promoted

In order to provide concrete assistance to the tourism industry, the non-profit organisation Hotel Resilient, which helps hotels with risk analyses, has compiled the following list of questions that hoteliers should ask themselves at the latest after the Corona crisis:

●     Were we prepared for a pandemic?

●     Did we support our community during the crisis?

●     Did we communicate risks and preventive measures successfully?

Answering these questions will help to improve our own crisis management in the future. "Because further dangers are looming in the near future if nothing is changed: Sea levels will rise, temperatures will climb, people will suffer from drought and much more," states Prof. Dr. Legrand. COVID-19 has already shown in 2020 how fragile society is. "I would therefore like this pandemic to make people aware of how risky climate change is for all of us. Hopefully, it will serve as a reminder to stop ignoring the omens before it's too late to turn the tide and also allow new viruses to circulate." The renowned university professor is certain that humans and nature can be protected preventively - a return to pre-Corona times, however, is not enough in the effort.

 

About Prof. Dr. Willy Legrand

Prof. Dr. Legrand has been Professor of Hospitality Management at the IUBH International University of Applied Sciences since 2003. After management positions in the hotel industry in Canada and Germany, Prof. Legrand completed a PhD at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. His teaching focuses on sustainable development and sustainability in the hospitality industry as well as tourism and marketing.

Prof. Legrand is the lead author of "Sustainability in the Hospitality Industry: Principles of Sustainable Operations", a leading textbook on sustainability in the hospitality industry.

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