As the United Nations World Tourism Organisation celebrates World Tourism Day, Breaking Travel News here hears from Zach Vanasse, programme manager at the TreadRight Foundation, about the changing face of global hospitality.
When I first joined the travel industry at the beginning of the decade, sustainability was not exactly the order of the day in the sector.
That’s not to say travel and sustainability coming together was unheard of.
The travel sector first witnessed discussions and debates about the “new promising field” of sustainable tourism in the 1970s – but in my experience working for a magazine that covered the travel industry at large on a daily basis, I think it’s fair to say the ideas of “sustainability” and “responsible travel” were rarely front-page news just a few years ago.
Things have changed.
The last decade, as climate change compelled thinking on sustainability forward in general, there has been parallel progress in the travel world.
Thanks to my position as programme manager for the TreadRight Foundation, a not-for-profit sustainability foundation supported by the Travel Corporation’s family of brands, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing this important evolution first-hand these past few years.
Progressive travel companies are increasingly partnering with leading sustainability organisations to help save wildlife, empower individuals, and elevate communities and culture.
Leaders in our space are recognising the importance of continually adopting and sharing new best practices and policies in the interest of helping to advance the positive evolution of our businesses.
As an industry, the travel and tourism sector is growing to appreciate the fact that if we are going to have a positive impact on the environment and communities we have the privilege of experiencing as we travel, we have to make a conscious and considered effort to ensure it.
The TreadRight Foundation works for sustainable tourism around the world, including this project of rock art preservation at Bushmans Kloof in South Africa
In 2017, the forward-thinking progression across the industry has culminated with the United Nations declaring this the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and now – as we mark World Tourism Day 2017 – we find ourselves at a critical juncture where each of us has an important decision, and it’s a decision we must make collectively.
As a sector, we can follow the example set by the Paris Agreement on climate change, which brings together partners, competitors, and adversaries to align under a shared goal of sustainability.
We have the momentum.
We must now use it effectively, bringing the travel industry and travellers together to compel us forward, working together to ensure that our beautiful planet can continue to provide us with the unforgettable opportunities to explore, experience, and exchange.
We must build on our shared interests in order to ensure that this is bigger than any single organisation.
Not just for our sector, but for everyone.
The TreadRight Foundation also works with Laboratorio Giuditta Brozzetti, a heritage initiative in Perugia
The travel and tourism industry’s global influence in 2017 is unprecedented.
As one of the world’s largest sectors, supporting some 280 million jobs and generating 9.8 per cent of global GDP – we sit poised to use the tools available to us – more than billion international travellers annually, organisations in every country around the world, a mobile-by-nature clientele – to increase public appreciation of the environment and help to spread the word on the value of connecting with the natural world and other cultures and communities in a sustainable way.
Travel and tourism has immense potential to change the world for the better, by working together to help steer us in the right direction.
We all recognise that travel can help people see the fragile beauty of our planet, foster empathy and understanding for others, and influence the decision makers.
As travellers, as explorers, we’ve always demonstrated our deeply-rooted capacity to push beyond, to venture into the unknown, and to overcome the impossible.
We do all this to satisfy our desire to push beyond preconceived limitations.
We overcome oceans, deserts, mountains, political borders, language gaps, and cultural differences because we believe in the beauty of our planet and we have a need to seek out and appreciate everything it has in store for us.
It’s now up to us to apply the tenacious dedication and resolve we’ve demonstrated in exploring our planet to saving our planet.
For everything it’s given us, travel organisations and travellers alike, we absolutely owe it that much.
Founded in 2008, TreadRight was originally called the Conservation Foundation.
Spearheaded by Brett Tollman, president of the Travel Corporation, and David Hosking, global managing director of Contiki Holidays, TreadRight has evolved to become the central hub of all sustainable tourism efforts within the Travel Corporation family of brands, as well as the destinations it visits.