Check Your Reputation: Climate Change Changing More Than You Know

Climate Change is certainly known far and wide as one of the most significant global obstacles of our time, but what about its effects on the reputation of industries? Even a powerful sector like travel and tourism must weather a fair share of challenges that arise from environmental degradation and sustainability concerns. Read more about the Link Between Climate Adaptation and Tourism

In a recent PATA Webinar, industry experts from MMGY TCI Research, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority and Tripadvisor delved deep into the intricate relationship between climate change and tourism, shedding light on its profound impact on destination reputations across the Asia Pacific region. 

Let's take a closer look at some of the key highlights and discussions!

Understanding the Impact of Climate Change on Destination Reputation

Olivier Henry-Biabaud, Managing Director & Partner at MMGY TCI Research, provided valuable insights into the growing conversations surrounding travel and climate change. Through research, he highlighted both the negative and positive themes influencing these discussions.

When it comes to travel-related conversations in the Asia Pacific, recurrent negative themes concerning climate change include coastal erosion, new threats to wildlife, life-threatening conditions while hiking, and more on the damage or danger created by climate change. On the other hand, positive discourse spotlights collaborative regional initiatives on various facets of the tourism sector and beyond, alongside efforts by major carbon-emitting nations to mitigate environmental impact in travel and transportation, and other sustainable tourism projects and preservation-focused endeavours.

How do these contrasting narratives impact destination reputations? Through extensive research, Olivier reveals that a destination's tourism reputation isn't solely dependent on the severity of natural disasters or climate change impacts. In other words, although the reputation of nature-oriented destinations like Nepal and the Maldives can be significantly impacted by the damage and danger caused by climate change, it does not imply that efforts to mitigate these effects are futile. Rather, proactive sustainability measures by governments, tourism organisations, and stakeholders play pivotal roles as "resilient factors" in revitalising positive reputations and countering negative ones of Asia Pacific destinations.

Download the report today to learn more about Destination Reputation and initiatives by various destinations

Sri Lanka is one of the destinations that maintained a positive tourism reputation despite climate change and pandemic-induced disruptions. P. Upali Ratnayake, Deputy Director General of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, shared insights into the destination’s successful initiatives.

Through the National Sustainable Tourism Certification (NSTC) scheme, Sri Lanka adopts global sustainability criteria, fostering collaboration across its nine provinces to bolster tourism policies and infrastructure, with the initiative now on track in nine destinations. The emphasis on developing resilient tourism products, services, and communications underscores Sri Lanka's commitment to sustainability and reliability in tourism.

Aside from this initiative, Sri Lanka is also known for its Mangrove ecotourism—a commitment to environment conservation, eco-friendly tourism, as well as supporting the livelihood of locals—which helps uplift Sri Lanka’s green reputation. 

Learn more about how Sri Lanka makes its way towards sustainable tourism

From Guilt to Action: Promoting Eco-Friendly Travel Choices

In addition to the conversation surrounding destination reputation, it is important to know how climate change affects the outlook of travellers about the notion of tourism. One of the sentiments that echo among travellers is the sense of guilt for contributing to Climate change through travelling, despite their willingness to travel. The notion is supported by Skift and Visa's report revealing the growing importance of sustainable tourism in the eye of travellers, with 66% of respondents acknowledging the need for it and 46% actively seeking eco-friendly options.

Thus, what DMOs and other organisations can do is provide information and guide travellers towards eco-friendly travel choices that compensate for and limit the impact of travel.

Fabrizio Orlando, Global Director of Industry Affairs at Tripadvisor, shared examples of Tripadvisors’ efforts to promote sustainable initiatives and campaigns, ensuring that travellers can easily access information on sustainability to make informed decisions and travel more sustainably. For Tripadvisor, Green Leaders, Travalyst and Travelers' Choice Awards are examples of initiatives that answer to the shifting traveller trends. 

Green Leaders features a variety of eco-friendly accommodations, from budget to luxury, all committed to green practices such as recycling, local sourcing, and electric car charging stations. Similarly, Travalyst aims to bring credible and consistent sustainability information to the mainstream, aiding travellers in making more informed choices. In the same vein, the Travelers' Choice Awards programme has recently introduced a Sustainability List, recognising destinations with outstanding sustainability efforts based on traveller reviews.

Fabrizio also noted that an effective way a tourism business can improve its sustainability credentials on the Tripadvisor platform is by securing related certifications and accreditations, integrating sustainable practices throughout all aspects of the business and transparently communicating these initiatives to customers to highlight the commitment and accountability to eco-friendly tourism.


In conclusion, the intersection of climate change and tourism presents both challenges and opportunities for destinations worldwide. By implementing proactive sustainability measures and fostering collaboration across sectors, destinations like Sri Lanka are paving the way for a more resilient and eco-friendly tourism industry. As travellers increasingly prioritise sustainability, initiatives like those highlighted by Tripadvisor play a crucial role in promoting eco-friendly travel choices and shaping the future of responsible tourism.

This blog is inspired by the PATA x MMGY TCI Research titled "Climate Change Impact on Destination Reputation" and the webinar of the same name. We sincerely thank the speakers who shared their expertise and experiences regarding this topic on the webinar:

  • Olivier Henry-Biabaud, Managing Director & Partner, MMGY TCI Research

  • P. Upali Ratnayake, Deputy Director General and Head of Sustainable Tourism Unit, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority

  • Fabrizio Orlando, Global Director, Industry Affairs, Tripadvisor

It is PATA's mission to promote the best sustainable practices while allowing Asia Pacific destinations to be recognised for their dedication and efforts to advance tourism responsibly. One of the Association’s initiatives focusing on spotlighting sustainable tourism efforts is the ‘PATA Gold Awards’. Along with Marketing, participants can become winners in the ‘Sustainability and Social Responsibility’ category across 11 subcategories including Corporate Social Responsibility, Human Capital Development Initiative, and many more. Learn more about this year’s initiative and submit your entry today.


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