Virgin boss says time to act on climate change
THE message that sustainability was the pressing issue for all operators in the industry was the surprise pitch from Virgin Australia boss Paul Scurrah at the Sunshine Coast Future Tourism Forum.
Mr Scurrah, the chief executive officer and managing director of Australia's only Queensland-based airline, said climate change was the real risk for the tourism industry.
"It is an imperative that all tourism operators - big and small - look at the forward agenda and the pressing issue of environmental sustainability," he said yesterday.
"If you think about it, an airline like Virgin Australia is able to fly to the Sunshine Coast because of the natural tourism drawcards that attract the visitors, both domestically and internationally.
"Yet climate change poses a serious threat to these pristine ecosystems.
"For Virgin Australia, whilst we are aware of how our operations contribute to the issue of climate change, we are also focused on being an active participant in finding solutions and we are making positive changes for our customers and for the environment."
Mr Scurrah said the airline had removed plastic straws and plastic stirrers from its operations, equating to 7.7 million single use plastics annually.
Virgin has also finalised a sustainable aviation fuels trial in partnership with the Queensland Government which resulted in more than 700 flights operating in and out of Brisbane flying more than one million kilometres using a sustainable aviation fuel mix.
Its introduction of Split Schimitar winglets on its Boeing 737 fleet has resulted in savings of 160,000kg of fuel a year and a 515-tonne reduction in carbon dioxide emissions per aircraft.
"These are only some of the key initiatives that we have invested in to implement greener ways of flying," Mr Scurrah said.
"When we are talking about the future of tourism on the Sunshine Coast, we need to be thinking about what we can be doing in our businesses to make a positive difference and protect and preserve the natural environment and ecosystems that we live and operate in.
"This is something that I am passionate about, not because it's something Virgin Australia should be seen to be doing, but because it's something we want to be doing. It's that simple.
"For the Sunshine Coast to continue to attract visitors far and wide in the years to come, we need to ensure that we are looking after our own backyard - taking care of the natural tourism attractions that entice the tourists here in the first place.
"This will not only secure a continuing growth trajectory for the local tourism market, but ensure we are staying true to our roles as responsible corporate citizens too."