Tourism is responsible for one in 10 jobs globally.
According to the UN World Tourism Organization, travel and tourism contributed 8.8 trillion dollars to the global economy in 2018.
As more and more people, planes, cruise ships, and trains continue to move across the planet and inevitably create carbon offsets, tour operators are recognizing the importance to come up with meaningful ways to reduce the human impact on fragile ecosystems and entire nations.
It's a delicate balance which inspired The Travel Corporation and TreadRight to come up with a brand new pledge, inspired by the Palau Pledge, which asks its visitors to sign an eco-pledge prior to entering the country.
Brett Tollman, chief executive of The Travel Corporation, Jeff Element, president of The Travel Corporation Canada and Shannon Guihan, chief TreadRight and sustainability officer met with members of the media on Sept. 27 (World Tourism Day) to announce a brand new official TreadRight Pledge, as well as new sustainable tourism projects across the globe.
Special guest and TreadRight ambassador and storyteller, Sarain Fox, was also in attendance, and addressed the audience with her own stories, and some insight on how today's travellers can embark on the world in a more sustainable, meaningful way.
Is there a global solution?
As The Travel Corporation gears up for its 100th anniversary in 2020, now more than ever, sustainable operations are a driving force in every single new itinerary, tour, and global project.
The non-profit arm of The Travel Corporation and its family of brands, The TreadRight Foundation doesn't accept donations—its livelihood is sustained when travellers choose to travel with any of the TTC's brands, like Luxury Gold, Insight Vacations, Contiki, and Trafalgar, to name a few.
To date, The TreadRight Foundation has completed 55 projects in 26 countries, spanning more than 280 communities worldwide. All of its projects are divided into three key support pillars: people, planet, and wildlife.
Three new people projects were announced this year, and the organization also stopped selling plastic water bottles across all operations and experiences, and the next goal is to eliminate single-use plastics totally.
"We have a plan to remove as much SUPs as possible from our operations, because you can make a difference in your supply chain and still grow your profits," Tollman said. "We're measuring the impact of our carbon footprint as we go, but you can't completely erase it; I don't believe that any organization can become completely carbon neutral, and companies that claim this aren't being completely genuine. As a travel industry, we must force ourselves to find a better way."
Addressing an increasingly common scenario, Tollman says the act of flight shaming, or avoiding travel altogether is simply not the answer.
"I truly believe that tourism is a force for good, and by calling it bad, the impact on these communities [who rely on tourism] will be devastating; the people living there will have no choice but to try and find another means to survive; they'll start farming and burning forests, and even more carbon will be produced," Tollman said. "Flight shaming is a real issue, and we need to moderate the conversation just as we have for 'overtourism'. The job in front of us is incredibly hard, but it all comes down to survival.
"We're all in this together, and we're not leaving this planet any time soon, so we're either going to survive and thrive, or we're going down together."
Fox added, "Shame is an immobilizer that makes us ashamed. What we need is a collective truth that inspires us to do more, and to become more strategic, because that's our collective responsibility."
Taking the pledge
Treadright's new pledge is meant to encourage travellers to start thinking more sustainably, long term.
"It's easy to take that pen off the table, because you don't want to look in your purse for your own, or to take that take-away container, because you don't want to spare 10 minutes to dine in," Fox said. "But it's so amazing what we can do, what we are capable of, if we just commit."
The TreadRight Pledge can be found below:
I WILL MAKE MY TRAVEL MATTER – FOR OUR PLANET, FOR PEOPLE AND FOR WILDLIFE.
WHEN I EXPLORE THIS PLANET, I WILL DO MY BEST TO TREAD RIGHT. I WILL REFUSE SINGLE USE PLASTICS WHEN I CAN AND RECYCLE WHAT I CANNOT AVOID. WHEN POSSIBLE, I WILL OFFSET MY TRAVELS.
WHEN I MEET NEW PEOPLE, I WILL HONOR THEIR HOME AS I DO MY OWN AND DO SO IN THE SPIRIT OF DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION. I WILL PURCHASE LOCALLY MADE ITEMS WHEREVER POSSIBLE AND PAY A FAIR PRICE.
WHEN I EXPERIENCE WILDLIFE, I WILL DO SO IN NATURE. I WILL NOT RIDE ANIMALS THAT OUGHT NOT BE RIDDEN, NOR SUPPORT ANIMAL CRUELTY IN ANY WAY.
TOGETHER, WE WILL TREAD RIGHT UPON THE EARTH – AND WE WILL MAKE OUR TRAVEL MATTER.
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