Our journey towards a carbon neutral future is marked with urgency and struggle to find solutions for a greener economy. Ideas for sustainable travel are in demand. But there are success stories as well to inspire us.
The evolution of cars is a good example of how changes in one industry impacts many others. How do you see the future of your own travel business? How do the increasing demands for sustainable travel affect your services, either directly or indirectly?
Norway’s EV revolution
Norway has been a trailblazer in switching their cars from petrol and diesel combustion engines to battery powered electric vehicles, EVs. The target of no new petrol cars sold by 2025 is now estimated to be reached as early as April 2022. Some niche petrol vehicles are still needed, but Norway is nearing the target of emission free transport quicker than estimated.
The Norwegian government has used the carrot and stick approach to make this happen. Tax breaks like no VAT on EVs, and other perks, such as cheaper parking and ferry tickets, have played a major role in obsoleting the combustion engine from Norway’s roads.
The newest stick is under scrutiny right now (November 2021). The proposed law states that most public sector vehicles purchases, starting as soon as January 2022, must be zero emission cars. Only long range cargo vehicles and biogas buses will be exempt from this rule. Just this one law is estimated to reduce Norway’s CO2 emission by half million to one million tons in the upcoming five year period between 2025-2030.
The Forbes magazine compares million tons of CO2 with 108 000 homes powered emission free for a year or almost 41 000 000 home bbq propane cylinders compensated. That is a lot.
Impacts on travel business?
What are the implications to the tourism industry as a whole, and to small travel businesses especially? At least it challenges us all to think outside the box and try to find proactive solutions. As a nudge towards greener travel, Norway’s car rentals start offering tourists an e-car as their first choice. What else can we do to make travel more sustainable?
Travel services have always been on the leading edge of change. The change is just becoming a bit faster and we need to think ahead to stay ahead.
Case: the service stations
Consider how the motor vehicle evolution has changed the role of service stations. A few decades ago you were never far from a petrol station with a mechanic, if your car broke down on the road. Service stations sold all kinds of spare parts from windshield wipers to engine parts. If you didn’t want to check your oil yourself, there was always personnel around to do that for you.
Starting in the 1990’s cars became more and more complex. Electronics run not only your car stereo but the fuel injection and other systems as well. Eventually computers started running all systems and, as we have recently seen, doing the actual driving. Nowadays you need a computer engineer to service a car.
What did this development do to the classic petrol stations? They turned into convenience stores selling everything from hotdogs and candy to souvenirs. While refuelling your car you could refuel your sugar reserves and grab a present for those waiting for your arrival.
Now as there are more and more EVs in our streets, what’s the future of the service stations?
The Finnish newspaper Helsingin sanomat published an article where two journalists drove an EV from Helsinki to Nordkapp and back, a total of 3123 km. Their mission was to test the car and the services in winter conditions over long distances through sparsely populated areas. The trip was by no means hassle free, with the threat of having to overnight in the car in subzero temperatures due to dysfunctioning chargers and no possibilities to stay inside and warm up.
There is room for development in the services supporting the EV revolution. The future of petrol stations might be in providing a remote workspace for those who wait for their cars to recharge. Or why not recharge yourself mentally and physically at the same time in a day spa or on a hiking trail? What do you think the future of the service station could be?
What’s the future of your travel business?
How does your own travel business compare to the history of the service stations? What are your ideas for the future? How could your service change your customers’ travel experience from spending natural resources to conserving them. Or even recharging them? So that the traveller not only recharges themselves mentally or physically, but also environmentally through sustainable travel.
Share your experiences and ideas in our community.