Edward Norton calls out greenwashing in the travel industry and slams ‘non-sustainable’ luxury tourism


Edward Norton has called out “greenwashing” by travel companies and criticised “non-sustainable” luxury tourism.

The Fight Club actor made the comments while speaking at the 22nd World Travel & Tourism Council summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday.

Norton also addressed the need for certified standards of sustainability in tourism.

As reported by Travel Weekly, Norton said: “The defining challenge of the 21st Century is adapting our economies to be ecologically sustainable and to put the brakes on global warming. This challenge has to be met by the tourism industry.”

“An ensuite plunge pool is a non-sustainable version of luxury. The fact that someone comes to look at the wildlife at your camp does not make you an ecotourism operator,” Norton added.

The Hollywood actor, who stars in the recently released Knives Out sequel, Glass Onion, is known for being passionate about sustainability.

In 2007 he became the US board president of the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, to which he and Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism, Ahmed Al-Khateeb, pledged a further $1m donation at the summit.

The Kenyan organisation helps protects the land and biodiversity of Africa.

In 2010 Norton was named as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity. He also supports non-profit environmental law organisation Earthjustice, and was involved with a 2012 campaign to stop mountain top removal mining in America.

Meanwhile, Norton’s father, Edward Norton Sr, is an environmental lawyer and conservationist, who until 18 November served as Chair of the Conservation Lands Foundation.

A 2017 Hospitality Design interview detailed Norton’s activism work and outlined his concerns about tourism and conservation.

Most safari operations are “quite frankly just greenwashing” and superficial, he says in the article, while hitting out at the fact they “don’t meet true sustainability standards.”

At the World Travel & Tourism Council summit, Norton highlighted this further, stating: “Tourism gets credit for the positive connections it promotes but it can be an extractive industry with negative environmental and social consequences.”

He added: “The travel press and travel agents have to go deeper. You can’t just accept what brands put out about themselves. We need a travel industry standard on sustainability and not just to regurgitate greenwashing.”


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