Sustainable Travel pushes greener travel

As if sustainability wasn’t already the hottest issue facing the travel industry today, the two billion-strong audience watching the Live Earth concerts on July 7 only added an exclamation mark to the call for climate-friendly travel. Sustainable Travel International (STI), a non-profit that introduced carbon offsetting to the travel and tourism industry and promotes eco-friendly travel, has been answering that call since 2002.

Among its many programs, the organization enables both travelers and tourism providers to learn about how to reduce their impact on global climate change, calculate their carbon footprint with its carbon offsets program and make a contribution toward high quality renewable energy and energy efficiency projects around the world to offset carbon emissions.

Most recently, STI has been working with major travel providers to make their products more sustainable. Just this week, the San Juan Marriott announced it would be offering STI’s pioneering TravelGreen? program to provide guests with carbon neutral accommodations. For just $1 per room, per night, hotel guests will be able to pay for a TravelGreen Mini-Green Tag, which is equal to offsetting 33.7 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions - the equivalent of the energy consumption from an average one-night hotel stay. Under the program, the cost of a Mini-Green Tag is charged to guests’ invoices and goes directly toward certified renewable energy projects in North America offered by STI.

STI is also working with Continental Airlines to offer passengers the option to participate in a carbon-offsetting program. The voluntary program, which will be available to customers by late summer, will allow travelers to calculate the carbon footprint of their itinerary and purchase carbon offsets online from STI. Proceeds from purchased offsets are invested by STI into sustainable development projects worldwide, including reforestation, renewable energy and energy conservation. Customers will have the option of selecting which kind of program they would like their carbon offsets to benefit.

“From its inception, STI has focused on ways to make climate-friendly options available to travelers and tourism providers, both through selling carbon offsets and helping them protect the environmental, socio-cultural and economic values of the places they visit, and the planet at large,” Sustainable Travel International President Brian T. Mullis said. “Providing Continental and Marriott guests with the opportunity to protect the environment while they travel is one step toward attaining our goal of mainstreaming the concept of sustainable tourism and keeping it at the top of people’s minds every day, not just concert day.”