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Trip.com Group CEO tackles overtourism for sustainable travel at World Economic Forum

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Trip.com Group CEO Ms Jane Sun speaks on overtourism at the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland. (Source: World Economic Forum).

CEO shares multifaceted approach to overtourism challenges, with sustainable travel practices as a key strategy

DAVOS, SWITZERLAND – Trip.com Group, a leading global travel service provider, has set its sights on tackling key challenges surrounding the tourism industry. This is evidenced by CEO Ms Jane Sun‘s participation in the panel discussion “Sorry, We’re Full: Tackling Overtourism” at the prestigious World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The forum invited influential dignitaries, from political elites to business leaders, to tackle the challenges facing our world, in the hope of finding common ground and united solutions, aligning with this year’s theme of “Rebuilding Trust”.

Davos comes as the world looks forward to forging a new normal for sustainable travel in the post-pandemic era. Over 75% of respondents in Trip.com Group’s sustainability report agreed that sustainable travel is vital. However, the industry faces obstacles to sustainable travel, particularly as the rise in visitor numbers approaches pre-pandemic levels. Consequently, destinations contend with multiple challenges, such as preserving heritage sites, combating pollution, and looking after their ecosystems.

At the forum, Ms Sun shared her views on the challenges of overtourism for multiple stakeholders across the industry. Ms Sun spoke alongside a distinguished panel of guests, including Ms Sithembile Ntombela, Acting Chief Executive Officer of Brand South Africa; Mr Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF); and Mr Tony Fernandes, Chief Executive Officer of Capital A Berhad (AirAsia). The forum was moderated by CNN International’s anchor and correspondent Richard Quest.

Ms Sun also met with government officials from various countries to build upon the success of the region’s travel growth momentum.

Tackling overtourism can only work if sustainability is embedded across the travel and tourism industry. Trip.com Group addresses this challenge through a multifaceted approach, with initiatives to promote sustainable travel practices, improve infrastructure, and combat the environmental and social implications.

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From left to right: Mr Richard Quest, CNN International’s anchor and correspondent; Ms Jane Sun, CEO of Trip.com Group; Ms Sithembile Ntombela, Acting Chief Executive Officer of Brand South Africa; Mr Tony Fernandes, Chief Executive Officer of Capital A Berhad (AirAsia); and Mr Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). Source: World Economic Forum.

“We need to approach the issue of overtourism with a balanced view. Destinations can become overcrowded without proper management, and the overall experience suffers. It’s imperative to find ways for supply and demand to grow sustainably,” said Ms Sun.

Investing in high-quality tourism is a viable approach to attract visitors to less well-travelled destinations. Several key markets, such as Thailand and Malaysia, have endorsed the idea of attracting “high-value” tourists to redirect demand away from hotspots. Simultaneously, other regions aim to diversify tourist influx by offering niche forms of tourism unique to under-visited regions. This mitigates overtourism and holds the potential for economic gains, with destinations such as Dubai successfully expanding their wellness tourism industry to an estimated value exceeding USD 108 billion.

To alleviate pressure on popular destinations, another strategy involves the promotion of lesser-known destinations, known as long-tail tourism. Advancements in technology and social networking have made marketing approaches that focus on lesser-known locales more effective. For instance, Trip.com Group employs content marketing strategies, including e-commerce campaigns and leveraging its social travel platform, Trip Moments, to showcase less visited areas. Daegu – a lesser-known destination in Korea – was highlighted in a successful digital campaign which garnered over 29 million views, resulting in an 87% increase in product sales compared to the same period in the previous year.

Beyond promoting lesser-known destinations, targeting lull periods or traditionally low travel seasons can help to address overtourism during peak travel periods. To make this possible, Trip.com Group provides advanced and flexible booking options to ensure customers have the freedom to adapt their travel plans whenever necessary.

The Group is also keen to collaborate with partners and industry stakeholders to find sustainable solutions over the long run.

“The complex challenges of overtourism demand more than quick fixes – it will not be resolved overnight. However, through unwavering dedication from multiple stakeholders, we believe that every effort contributes to shaping a future where travel harmonises seamlessly with sustainable principles. This goes beyond a goal; it’s a powerful commitment to redefine the very essence of responsible travel,” stated Ms Sun.

Co-Founder & Chief Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | Website | + Posts

Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.

She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.

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