Travellers are growing increasingly conscious of the environment, sustainability and the consequences of overtourism. They want to explore the world without harming it. Destinations, consortia, operators, hotels and the companies that move us are all responding – not because it’s marketable, but because it’s the right thing to do. As 2019 comes to a close, we’re taking a moment to reflect on the varied initiatives and policies that helped reduce the impacts of global consumer travel this year.
Marriott International announced the elimination of single-use toiletries
Expanding on their 2018 initiative, Marriott is replacing the small, single-use bottles used in hotel rooms for shampoo, conditioner and lotion. Instead, bathrooms will feature larger pump bottles that hold the same liquid amenities in eco-friendly, refillable containers. When completed, the new program will reduce the company’s plastic usage by 30 per cent.
The Travel Corporation stopped offering single-use plastic water bottles
With their not-for-profit TreadRight Foundation, TTC has announced that coaches will no longer offer single-use plastic bottles. TTC brands including Trafalgar, Contiki and Insight Vacations are also shifting away from non-biodegradable name and luggage tags. The family of brands is working to phase out all unnecessary single-use plastics.
Delta got serious about biofuel
Delta has a long-term goal of reducing carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050. This fall, one step in that journey was a $2 million investment in a feasibility study to explore a biofuel production facility in Washington state. If it proves viable, sustainable aviation fuel could be sourced from wood residue deposits and wood slash. The study is expected to be completed by mid-2020 and the first fuel delivery could arrive as early as the end of 2023.
Also in 2019, Airbus initiated the delivery of 20 new aircraft to Delta. In partnership with Air BP, the planes flew from the assembly line in Mobile, Alabama to Kansas City. The planes were powered by biofuel and with additional offsetting, the delivery flights were entirely carbon neutral.
Lindblad Expeditions became 100% carbon neutral
Lindblad Expeditions | Copyright David Vargas
For this global leader in responsible tourism, “eco” is just as important as “tourism.” All 13 ships, land-based operations, employee travel and offices will be fully offset in 2019. Lindblad recognizes the immense threat of global climate change and seeks to promote sustainable tourism around the world.
Beaches closed for clean-ups
Boracay | Hector Periquin
Boracay closed recently (but not permanently). Instead, the touristy island in the Philippines opted to shut down paradise for specific time periods, allowing the environment a chance to breathe. It also gave Boracay’s stakeholders the opportunity to work through issues including waste management, infrastructure and congestion. Travellers looking for alternative destinations during the closures should consider Palawan and Bohol.
ME to WE used chocolate for a sweet cause
Canadian social enterprise ME to WE focuses on sustainable development projects that benefit the communities that travellers visit. This Toronto-based company fosters employment and economic empowerment in WE Village communities around the world. A recent investment in Ecuador helped launch Fairtrade chocolate and create economic opportunities.
Intrepid put women first
Intrepid expanded its Women’s Expeditions itineraries with four new destinations: Turkey, India, Kenya and Nepal. The tours encourage female empowerment by supporting local female-owned and operated businesses in each destination. In traditionally conservative countries, these tours create a socially responsible and culturally sensitive way for travellers to experience the customs, food, challenges and lives of local women.
G Adventures launched a new animal welfare policy
© G Adventures Inc.
With species rapidly declining around the world, the list of extinct and endangered animals grows every day. G Adventures has opted for a new “no-touch” animal welfare policy. Developed in consultation with World Animal Protection, The Jane Goodall Institute and the World Cetacean Alliance, this policy educates travellers on the safest way to interact with animals abroad – for both humans and animals.
Sightseeing in Norway got cleaner
Travellers can now go whale watching and explore Norway’s pristine coastline with minimal impact on sensitive coastal habitats. The new Brim Explorer is the quietest, cleanest and most environmentally sound sightseeing ship that tourists can experience in Scandinavia. Propelled solely by batteries, guests can still see the northern lights and breathtaking fjords without the detrimental effects of a diesel cruise ship.
Natural Habitat Adventures offset air travel
As the world’s first carbon-neutral tour operator, Natural Habitat Adventures has offset over 17,000 tons of carbon dioxide in the last 12 years. In 2019, NHA announced it will offset guest air travel. Eco-conscious guests’ trips will now be 100 per cent carbon-neutral from the moment they depart their home airport.
Adventure Canada embraced farm-to-ship
Foraging for ingredients | Adventure Canada
This year, Adventure Canada launched an immersive culinary program “Taste of Place” in a province known for its fresh food. Guests on the Newfoundland Circumnavigation voyage experienced the destination’s rich agricultural and fishing history through dinner menus designed and supplied by local chefs, farmers, hunters and fishers.
Accor released a zero-waste recipe collection
The hospitality group Accor released a curated recipe collection as an approachable way to raise awareness of the global food waste issue. This cookbook features 25 recipes primarily using ingredients that otherwise might be trashed. Home cooks can download the e-book, which profiles Fairmont, Sofitel and Novotel chefs from properties across Canada and the U.S.
Uluru closed to climbers
The prohibition of visitors at popular sites is radical action, but it can be essential. In Australia, the sacred landmark also known as Ayers Rock is now illegal to climb. Uluru travellers might instead participate in an Anangu cultural experience to learn more about the indigenous peoples who originally populated the area.
Hurtigruten sailed the Northwest Passage on battery power
Another innovative expedition ship, the MS Roald Amundsen made history this year with a nautical breakthrough. Traversing the Northwest Passage was once considered impossible. This year, a hybrid electric-powered expedition ship completed the 4,828-kilometre journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific powered solely by batteries. This energy efficient model cuts carbon emissions from the engine by more than 20 per cent.
Big Five Tours & Expeditions created technology to protect the world
Big Five Tours & Expeditions created technology to help determine how travellers want to support sustainable tourism. Using AI, GIB 5.0 finds opportunities for travellers based on personal interest. GIB 5.0 is a useful tool for travel advisors, too – it gathers information about clients’ interests and passions, allowing agents to curate and design unforgettable vacations with a good cause.
Air Canada and Transat showed dedication to dolphins
As they say, if you love something, let it go. This couldn’t be truer for animal tourism, which is quickly falling out of fashion. To fight against inhumane practices, Transat has stopped commercializing performances that feature captive marine animals. Air Canada has also pledged to stop directly selling and promoting packages involving entertainment with captive dolphins. The move echoes legislation passed in Canada last June which bans the breeding, display and trade of whales, dolphins and porpoises for any reason except research and rehabilitation.
Collette will become carbon neutral by 2020
Global tour operator Collette isn’t wasting any time – all trips under the Explorations brand will be carbon neutral by next year. This is one of Collette’s many initiatives to lessen their carbon footprint and reduce environmental impact.
Costa Rica continued to combat climate change
Costa Rica announced its National Decarbonization Plan and the lofty goal of being the first carbon-neutral nation in the world. Also this year, the UN honoured Costa Rica with a Champions of the Earth award.
Iberostar Hotels & Resorts created the Honest Food initiative
Food waste is a major global issue. Currently, up to one third of all food worldwide ends up in the garbage. To fight food waste and promote local cuisine, Iberostar launched “Honest Food.” Hotels and resorts have pledged to work with local producers who farm responsibly, aiming to minimize environmental impact and fill their restaurants with fresh, natural food.
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