No-one’s perfect, Harry tells sustainable tourism launch after private jets row
The Duke of Sussex told the event in Amsterdam that what is important is ‘what we do to balance’ out our individual impact on the environment.
The Duke of Sussex has spoken about his impact on the environment after the furore that followed his use of private jets, saying “no-one is perfect”.
Speaking at the launch of an ambitious global project to encourage the tourism industry to become more sustainable, Harry said what is important is “what we do to balance” out negative effects.
Harry and wife Meghan have faced mounting criticism after reportedly taking four private jet journeys in 11 days during the summer, which is at odds with their views on supporting the environment.
The duke flew to the Netherlands on a commercial plane for the launch event in Amsterdam but is likely to face further criticism in the press for not directly commenting on his private flight choices at the event focused on encouraging travel firms and tourists to make sustainable decisions.
Harry has spent three years working on the initiative, called Travalyst, which he hopes will improve conservation, environmental protection and help increase the economic benefits from tourism for local communities.
The duke and the co-founders of the project – Booking.com, Ctrip, Skyscanner, TripAdvisor and Visa – hope to spark a movement of like-minded companies and organisations to transform the future of travel into a more sustainable one.
Harry said in a speech to launch the initiative at Amsterdam’s A’dam Tower: “What is clear across this vast landscape is that our world faces environmental challenges of unprecedented scope and scale. From deforestation and the loss of biodiversity, to ocean plastics and poaching, the problems can sometimes seem too big to fix.
“These human-caused challenges often need a giant system shift to make a significant enough impact. And that is what this partnership is here to try and do.
“Sometimes the scale of the conservation crisis feels overwhelming and that individual actions can’t make a difference.
“I’ve certainly felt that – but I’ve learned that we cannot dismiss the idea of trying to do something, just because we can’t do everything. We can all do better.
“And, while no-one is perfect, we are all responsible for our own individual impact; the question is what we do to balance it out.”
It is unlikely the duke or other members of the royal family will stop taking private jets as security, time constraints and safety are normally put forward by royal households for travel decisions.
But it remains to be seen if there will be any public announcements about how the Duke mitigates his impact on the environment.
In his speech at Amsterdam’s iconic A’dam Tower, the duke outlined the “negative impacts of mass tourism” from Maya Bay in Thailand, made famous by the film The Beach, where its reefs have died, to Africa, where safari vehicle “traffic jams” are beginning to outnumber the wildlife.
But he stressed there were positives, adding: “Tourism can be a source of opportunity for communities that might not otherwise find it. Tourism can strengthen the local economy. Tourism drives improvements in the quality of life for so many. In some cases, it’s all they have.
“It accounts for 10% of global GDP and about one in ten jobs worldwide, figures that will continue to grow in the coming years. This is the scale of the opportunity.
“There are positive trends in the travel industry as well. Seven in ten travellers say they want more sustainable travel options.”
The launch comes as trips made by travellers are increasing, according to the UNWTO, the United Nation’s agency responsible for the promotion of sustainable tourism.
During 2018 it estimated that worldwide international tourist arrivals increased 6% to 1.4 billion.
Harry added: “People are speaking up. They want to see the world, but they also want to know that with all the good that they take home — souvenirs, memories, photos, that they leave just as much good behind.
“They want a paradigm shift and I believe one is coming. I believe we can -and we must -find new ways to minimise the dangers and maximise the opportunities of tourism.”