Flying and carbon
At the heart of Tourism Concern’s work, though, was an ethical conundrum which Watson accepts was always impossible to solve:
“The big elephant in the room with the whole of the tourist industry is the environmental impact of flying to your destination and its contribution to climate change,” states Watson bluntly.
Simply put, a holiday may be ethical, but the reality is that flying to your women-run community tourist lodge in Nepal is the most environmentally damaging aspect of your whole holiday.
Not that Watson believes that travelling is bad, far from it:
“Travelling itself is a good thing as, rather than being isolationist and xenophobic, going overseas and meeting different people and experiencing new cultures are all positive. Maybe if more Brits or Americans had travelled then perhaps we wouldn’t have had Brexit or Trump!”
The challenge, according to Watson, is that we’ve got to work out how we can get the benefits of travel without the downsides of adding to climate change: “The current model of an annual two week holiday came about with the way we worked in the past when whole industries and towns shut down, but is this still relevant today?”
Instead Watson believes that rather than going on holiday overseas for just two weeks every year, we should be looking at getting away every four years but staying for two or three months. “You’d really get to know a place in that time,” says Watson, “and, significantly, it would be better for the planet.”