Jannah Theme License is not validated, Go to the theme options page to validate the license, You need a single license for each domain name.
طيران السياحة

Coming back down to earth: the rise of flight-free travel

The global aviation industry currently contributes about 3% of global carbon emissions, but this impact could triple by 2050 due to the sector’s rapid growth, with more than 10 billion air journeys predicted by that date, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Aviation emissions, particularly at high altitudes, have a disproportionate impact on climate change compared to ground-level emissions. It’s also worth noting that 80% of aviation’s CO2 emissions occur on flights of more than 1,500km where alternatives are limited, underscoring the importance of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) development, as per IATA’s goal for net-zero emissions by 2050. Amid concerns about air travel’s environmental impact, escalated by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)  reporting that 2023 was the hottest year on record, consumers are increasingly embracing flight-free travel options. This trend is bolstered by the ‘flygskam’ (flight shame) movement originating in Sweden in 2019, advocating for reduced air travel and promoting alternatives like trains, electric vehicles, eco-friendly ships, and even bikes. As the air industry works towards its 2050 target, societal attitudes are shifting towards more sustainable modes of transportation.

The rise of rail

Rail travel is one of the most sustainable ways to travel long distances, with modern electric trains emitting significantly less CO2 per passenger compared to aircraft. For example, a flight from London to Paris emits about 244kg of CO2 per passenger, while the same journey by train emits just 15kg, a 90% reduction, according to Eurostar’s estimates.

A survey commissioned by Hitachi Rail and conducted by SavantaComres revealed two-thirds (64%) of people around the world support banning air travel where high-speed rail alternatives are available. It also found that over the next five years, more than one-third (35%) of people expect to travel more by train, while 56% support increasing air taxes to finance new high-speed rail services.

In Europe, a region with a robust rail infrastructure, high-speed trains offer a competitive and eco-friendly alternative to air travel for many inter-city journeys.

Flight-free travel specialist Byway highlights the new sleeper train routes launching across Europe in 2024, with Nightjet linking Paris to Berlin, Warsaw to Salzburg, Berlin to Aachen, Erfurt to Brussels, Munich to Krakow, Brussels to Salzburg and Dresden to Budapest.

To further promote flight-free travel, Byway has introduced carbon labelling for its trips, facilitating effective comparison with air travel emissions.

Despite the GCC’s lag in rail infrastructure, rapid developments are underway, with Saudi Arabia planning a significant expansion of its rail network to add 8,000 kilometres of track, while the hotly anticipated GCC Rail connecting all six Gulf States with a 2,117km route, is scheduled to be operational by 2030.

The popular journey between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which normally takes two hours by road, is also being electrified. A new Virgin Hyperloop system will travel 1,000km per hour, 10 times faster than traditional rail, cutting the journey time to just 12 minutes, plus new electric air taxi services linking the two cities are also under discussion.

The journey is the destination

Rail travel’s golden age has also made a comeback; much more than an A-to-B experience, rail has become a coveted travel experience once again, and the industry is capitalising on the trend.

Companies like Railbookers specialise in curated train travel packages, offering personalised itineraries encompassing city breaks to iconic journeys like the Trans-Siberian Railway or Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer. This year it’s launching the extravagant ‘Around the World by Luxury Train’ voyage priced at $113,599 per person for 80 days, spanning four continents and 13 countries. Embracing the ‘slow travel’ trend, this itinerary stitches together existing rail journeys into one.

Great Rail Journeys caters to the demand for glamorous rail travel, organising escorted tours featuring luxury train experiences on renowned routes like the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express or the Glacier Express. Belmond operates opulent trains like the Belmond Royal Scotsman and the Belmond Andean Explorer, offering guests a blend of historic charm and modern luxury.

Japan is promoting its scenic rail trips alongside its famous bullet trains. The Train Suite Shiki-shima, renowned for its exclusivity and futuristic design, closed 2024 applications due to overwhelming demand. Another popular rail journey, the Two Stars 4047 on Kyushu Island, runs in a loop taking in key places of interest.

In North Africa and the Middle East, Morocco’s Marrakech to Fes route entices travellers with a picturesque journey through the country’s heart, while the upcoming Desert Express aims to link major cities via the Sahara.

Though the region’s original Hejaz Railway connecting Damascus to Medina no longer operates as it once did, parts of the route take travellers on a historical journey through the Middle East. The Jordanian section offers scenic rides from Amman to the northern cities, providing a unique perspective on the region’s history and natural beauty.

Flight-free forays

Flight-free holidays, encompassing rail and much more, are gaining traction too, with companies like Byway crafting travel packages using trains, bikes, buses, and ferries. Its sustainable travel experts curate itineraries and provide personalised support via WhatsApp, ensuring a smooth trip. Collaborating with small-group adventure travel specialist, Intrepid Travel, Byway has introduced flight-free itineraries like the Gen Z Grand Tour, spanning seven countries for 18-29-year-olds.

E-road-trips are rising in popularity too, with routes like the 1,000-mile Basel-Baden-Zurich-Appenzell ‘Grand Tour’ in Switzerland, equipped with numerous EV chargers. Innovative e-touring vehicles like Tesla’s Cybertruck and Aptera’s Launch Edition offer solar charging options, enabling extended travels without plug-in charging. With a tent that can be attached, there is no need to book a hotel when you drive an Aptera either.

Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE are embracing electric travel for a greener future. Saudi’s NEOM project, THE LINE, will be car- and road-free, running on 100% renewable energy and prioritising resident health and wellness with a high-speed rail service connecting them to all amenities. NEOM also plans to introduce electric air transportation, partnering with urban air mobility (UAM) specialist Volocopter to offer electric air taxi services.

Similarly, Joby Aviation is set to launch electric air taxis in Dubai by 2026, aligning with Dubai’s Autonomous Transformation Strategy targeting a 25% shift to autonomous transportation by 2030. This strategy aims to cut costs, emissions, accidents, and increase productivity, anticipating significant economic returns while doing so.

ATM explores flight-free solutions

This year’s Arabian Travel Market provides a platform to showcase and discuss products, services and strategies incorporating flight-free solutions.

Conference sessions integrating the topic will include Strengthening Inter-Regional Travel: Learnings from Europe, which will look at factors that have contributed to Europe’s success in finding transport solutions between cities, from policies and visas to air and rail connections.

And, with Euromonitor highlighting rail as the fastest growing travel category worldwide in 2024, growing 35.6% over 2023, a session entitled The Shift in Transport Preferences & What It Means For Travel in the Middle East will see a panel of experts outline sustainable initiatives shaping the future of transport in the region.

With the Gulf countries at the forefront of innovations in transport and tourism, underpinned by a commitment to global net zero targets and sustainable industry growth, we are likely to see more flight-free concepts come to fruition in the near future.
And, with a landscape so diverse that it encompasses mountains, desert, sea, oases, mangroves and UNESCO-protected treasures, natural and historical, offering slow travel experiences where visitors tread as lightly as possible will undoubtedly be a priority.

Join us at Arabian Travel Market Dubai

The market leading travel and tourism event brings the whole world together in Dubai, UAE.
Join us from 6–9 May 2024 at Dubai World Trade Center.

تمت الترجمة بواسطة موقع شرقيات

اترك تعليقاً

لن يتم نشر عنوان بريدك الإلكتروني. الحقول الإلزامية مشار إليها بـ *

زر الذهاب إلى الأعلى