Prince Harry came under heavy fire after he urged the travel industry to rebuild greener systems after the pandemic. The 35-year-old delivered the opening speech at a virtual global summit for his sustainable tourism project Travalyst through a video link from LA on Thursday, July 30. During the speech, Harry had encouraged the industry to “build back better” in light of the coronavirus pandemic, stating that it has a “responsibility” to reshape the way we travel. 

“Businesses are hurting significantly, and I’ve heard from some of you who are currently struggling to put food on your family’s tables and make ends meet because there are no tourists and therefore no income,” Harry had said. “We need to build back — but we need to build back better. And that means there’s a responsibility, a responsibility we cannot avoid or dismiss, for us to reshape this industry in a way that benefits everyone and everything for decades to come,” he continued. 

According to former transport minister Norman Baker, who is a vocal critic of the royal, Harry was not the right person to give a speech on greener travel especially since he frequently uses private jets to get around. Baker said, “I am afraid his credibility on the subject is lacking over his own jet setting, which undermines his case. The message is fine, but the messenger is wrong – it’s like a carnivore advocating vegetarianism,” according to a Daily Mail report. 

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex makes a speech as Sentebale held an event on January 19, 2020, hosted by Mr & Mrs Caring on behalf of The Caring Foundation, to raise funds for Sentebale’s vital work supporting young people affected by HIV in southern Africa, in London, United Kingdom (Getty Images) 

Harry’s speech came as TUI announced its plans to close down 166 high street shops rendering hundreds of job cuts and losses. As thousands of people are set to lose their jobs, Harry had chosen to lecture workers on the importance of eco-friendly travel. 

Many others also echoed the same sentiments and weighed in on Harry’s speech. Travel blogger Pamela RG had written, “Tone deaf Prince Harry especially during this critical time when people are still suffering with infection or dying and unemployment.” Airlines such as EasyJet, British Airways, and Ryanair are also going to be cutting down thousands of jobs while plane manufacturer Airbus is cutting 1,700 jobs at its two UK factories. 

In his speech, Harry had said, “businesses are hurting significantly” with a few “struggling to put food on the table”. He did not address the massive job losses nor the financial consequences across the industry and insisted that the industry should focus on building greener. 

Harry and his wife Meghan Markle have made headlines and have been criticized for their own carbon footprint that is reported to be 26 times more than that of the average Brit. Harry was also slammed across social media for his speech. One user had commented, “He is so out of touch with the real world. The pandemic could last until 2023. As a result, business have closed or slimmed down considerably. There is no money, food, or housing. Traveling is an impossibility. Rebuild what? Responsibility?” 

Another wrote, “Is he suggesting we all take private jets, private helicopters, and huge SUV’s everywhere we go like he does?” Yet another critic shared, “Coming to lecture the Crisis-ladden dying travel industry on their need to innovate while insulting them at the same time. This guy is sick!” “Telling the travel industry in the time of Covid-19 to innovate. What an a**! Meanwhile, Harry still flies private,” added a user. 

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Prince Harry calls for greener travel, labeled ‘carnivore advocating vegetarianism’ for flying in private jets

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