Top hotelier, Ed Fuller, president and managing director of Marriott International Lodging, will be making a stark warning at this year's WTM World Responsible Tourism Day.
Fuller is in the 'Hot Seat' with Stephen Sackur, BBC World's leading news presenter of the award-winning global TV program 'Hard Talk.'
The interview - one of the hard-hitting highlights of WTM's World Responsible Tourism Day on Wednesday, November 12 at ExCeL London at 12 noon - is encouraging companies and destinations to undertake responsible tourism.
In association with the UNWTO and backed by leading industry associations worldwide, the day is the most ambitious global initiative of its kind in the world.
Fiona Jeffery, chairman of World Travel Market said they were delighted that Ed Fuller had accepted their invitation to discuss its environmental approach. "We hope he will inspire more multi-national companies to seriously consider a responsible tourism strategy," she said.
Fuller has promised not to soften his words.
"I believe we are standing at a crossroads," he said. "While the science behind climate change may still be debated, few argue that temperatures are rising globally and that this change will potentially have a devastating effect on destinations and populations.
"As an industry, it is too risky to sit back and watch. We need to take an active part in understanding the change and doing our part to mitigate this trend."
He said that Marriott is being proactive. The company is working with Conservation International to fully understand and accurately measure its global carbon footprint.
"We have project teams focused on ways to integrate better environmental approaches throughout our business including procurement, architecture, construction and engineering.
"Our industry is the biggest in the world and promises to grow exponentially over the next 50 years. We cannot ignore the realities.
"We have a role to play now in reducing our industry's impact on the air we breathe, the water we drink and the destinations where we do business."
Fuller said that being a hotelier is not as simple as it was when he started 35 years ago. In addition to revenue, profit and growth, he said there was also a need to focus on destination stewardship.
"We are not just selling hotels, but the destination as well," he added. "When travelers make their buying decision, they generally do not select a destination because they want to stay in one of our hotels - especially when making leisure travel choices. They pick a destination because they want to experience its cultural or culinary attractions, environmental areas or places of historical significance.
"I consider it a privilege to operate hotels on pristine beaches, near nature and wildlife reserves and in historic cultural cities - I consider it our duty to protect and preserve these destinations. While we focus on our short-term goals and annual profits, let us not lose sight of the long-term responsibility we have to the places where we call home.
"I challenge our industry to take ownership for finding viable and creative responses to the causes of climate change and be better stewards of the environment.
"We can make a difference... we must make a difference."
'Hot Seat' with Ed Fuller and Stephen Sackur will be at 12 noon on Wednesday, November 12 at WTM's Conference Set, Platinum Suite 4, Level 3, ExCeL London. Log on to www.wtmwrtd.co.uk for the WTM World Responsible Tourism Day program.