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World Tourism Day: Responsible Travel Launches Carbon Labels and Impact Report

World Tourism Day: Responsible Travel Launches Carbon Labels and Impact Report

Responsible Travel has published its first major impact report, as it rolls out a carbon labelling initiative to its 479 industry partners.

Tipping The Scales also details its new holiday screening criteria and company purpose.

Founded in 2001, in 2023 the business – whose membership supply chain includes approximately 6,000 trips and 10,000 accommodations across more than 180 countries – will mark its most profitable year to date.

The report examines company goals, actions, and progress between 2021-2023, as well as its wider work and story to date.

View the full report here.


You can navigate the document using the clickable menu, and top bar of each page.

Other highlights include:

A new carbon labelling initiative: In 2020, Responsible Travel published a small but groundbreaking study measuring the CO2 emissions of a selection of its holidays. The detailed methodology wasn’t possible to scale up and apply across our operators, but the findings led us to call for carbon labelling in tourism. Three years on, we’re grateful to our partner Explore Worldwide for sharing their carbon measurement methodology with us – and crucially, for allowing us to share the tool with our network of 479 tour operator and accommodation members. This has enabled us to begin carbon labelling some of the almost 6,000 holidays on our site – approx. 350 so far – with the hope that, in time, all our members will opt in to carbon labelling. See report pages 22, 28 and 30.

New holiday screening criteria:  Since 2001, we’ve screened a total of 22,665 trips, and provided responsible tourism policy advice to more than 5,000 potential partners. This year, we’ve updated our screening criteria – strengthening its focus on reducing carbon, protecting and restoring nature, and improving inclusivity. See report pages 14-19.

Details of our new company purpose: We’re an activist company, with a 20-year history of groundbreaking advocacy and campaign work on issues across tourism - issues we care deeply about and which remain integral to our policies. But moving forward, we believe there are two challenges that matter above all: reducing carbon emissions and protecting and restoring nature. So for the first time, we changed our purpose.  See report pages 11-13.

Insight into our pioneering business model: We match travellers with great holidays – and put them in direct contact with our partners who run them. Our partners then voluntarily declare any bookings that follow. We like to think of it as the world’s biggest* honesty box – and it’s been going strong since 2001. Explore this, and more insight into how we operate, on pages 5 to 9.

Responsible Travel in numbers: From reaching £200m in holiday sales and 200k travellers to marking our most profitable year to date, 2023 has been a year of milestones. Explore these - and more key Responsible Travel numbers - on pages 7, 9, 14, 60 and 62.

Community impacts:  Every day our partners work to make a positive difference to local communities and nature through responsible tourism. Some of their stories are threaded throughout the report. There are hundreds more. You can also read about our Trip for a Trip initiative on page 62.

Justin Francis, founder and CEO of Responsible Travel, said: “Working in travel is a fantastic privilege, and comes with a responsibility to protect, and benefit, the places and communities we visit. Tipping The Scales examines how we’re working to do that, and how we’re progressing. But we’ll always have a drive to keep improving – and sharing the challenges we’ve encountered, and our learning, also felt important.

“Travel has vast potential for good, and the report highlights some of the many ways in which the industry, individual businesses and travellers can unleash that – and some inspiring stories of those who are already doing it so well.”

On carbon labelling, Justin said: “As an industry, we need to do all we can to help facilitate a fair transition to lower carbon travel. Part of that is being transparent about the impacts of holidays. Introducing carbon labels to our site is another way to help our travellers make informed choices, as well as encourage further emissions reductions across trips on our site and in tourism more widely.

“Sharing ideas that move us all forwards is at the heart of the responsible travel movement, and it’s thanks to Explore Worldwide sharing their methodology that we can offer all our partners the opportunity to have their trips on our site carbon labelled.”