No News Isn’t Good News

Richard Earls, Travel Research Online

I had a travel agent take  me to task last week because we featured this article in the TravelgramThe world’s largest cruise ship and its supersized pollution problemThe article purports to describe the amount of pollution generated by mega-cruise ships and comes from a reasonably credible source. I want to state up-front TRO has no idea of the  accuracy of the article.

But that is not the point. 

The editorial mission of TRO’s Travelgram is to daily inform travel professionals of what their clients are reading. The article above was picked up by numerous other publications and syndicated across the internet. No doubt many of your clients read the article. If you as a travel professional don’t know the article exists you could be blindsided by the questions posed by clients. The Travelgram is circulated only to travel professionals and we are not supporting or validating any of the news we pass along to our readers.

But that is not the point either.

Travel and tourism is certainly one of the 1st world’s great luxuries. We in the west have the greatest of opportunity to travel nearly anywhere and sample the world’s offerings. But we often do so at a price beyond what we pay for an airline ticket.

We think of the earth as incredibly large and very small, as the most solid entity we can imagine. It is also one of the most fragile.

During the history of the human race, we have been pilgrims, wayfarers, explorers and pioneers. Our feet and minds have carried us far. We migrated out of Africa and spread across the planet in search of food, fortune and, sometimes, just the horizon. But we did so in a thinly populated world with what seemed to be limitless resources.

We are now more than 7 billion humans on the planet. Getting along with the earth, and with each other, will be increasingly important. Travel and tourism plays an important role in the way we perceive each other.

Some would argue that travel wastes resources like vast amounts of fuel, is a privilege of the wealthy and exploits indigenous people and ecosystems. At times, travel and tourism does all of these things and perhaps even worse than we realize.


But travel also expands our understanding of other people and cultures. Travel reminds us of how alike we are. Travel reminds us of the fragility of the planet and seldom do we travel that we return unchanged. On balance, TRO falls out on this side of the argument, so long as travel and tourism seeks to do as little environmental and cultural damage as possible.

As travel professionals, we cannot ignore the balance we have to achieve in our business practices. People can do incredibly bone-headed things as they travel the globe and some of those people might be our clients. We have responsibilities. Our activities as business people have global repercussions. Professionals cannot ignore such issues.

Likewise, our suppliers should account for the impact of their promotions on the environment. Many suppliers are actively promoting humanitarian and environmental causes. We learn of those activities, they will be reported to you as well. When news like the article in question appears on the front page of a publication like The Guardian, I believe it incumbent on our suppliers to assist travel professionals in understanding their corporate position and counter-arguments.

Below is the exchange between the agent and TRO Support.

I don’t think hiding from the news is an alternative for people who call themselves professionals. I do believe professionals are capable of evaluating news and then assisting their clients in doing the same. That is our job.

Ignoring bad press isn’t an option, not in the age of constant connectivity when your neighbours are no longer only right next door.


The world’s largest cruise ship and its supersized pollution problem in today’s TRO cruise news.

  I’m puzzled and dismayed that you would choose this as your lead article.  You position your

 organization as a friend of travel yet have chosen to link to exactly the type of inflammatory press

that we work so hard to counteract. This is all the more egregious since the article is prefaced by a

 statement that RCCL has responded with a legal complaint.  Headlining and linking to this sort of

 press only strengthens its message. We do not buy into the well-used “need to know” argument

for such behavior. In general, people only see the negative and don’t take the time to evaluate the

information fully.  Consequently, by your action, you have fueled the Guardian’s sensationalist

 reporting and undercut the industry you purport to serve; a

 very unattractive decision.



2016-05-30 3:46 amadmin

The editorial mission of the Travelgram is to inform travel agents of the materials their clients are r

eading. The Travelgram is circulated only to Travel Professionals.  We don’t want to ignore the

negative news that is reported or many travel professionals would be caught off guard. ~ Support

Richard Earls is the Publisher of TravelResearch Online, an online travel industry resource dedicated to enhancing the professional lives of travel agents.

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