To mark the UN’s 75th anniversary, we caught up with Shannon Guihan, Chief TreadRight & Sustainability Officer at The Travel Corporation, to find out more about the business’s latest plans for sustainable tourism.
The Travel Corporation (TTC) is home to 40 renowned, worldwide travel brands including Contiki, Trafalgar, Insight Vacations and Uniworld River Cruises. ‘How We Tread Right’ is its latest sustainable strategy, anchored to the United Nations Global Goals.
Consisting of 11 goals altogether, How We Tread Right is a five year plan for a regenerative return to travel, following the industry-wide halt this year.
“Our most recent moves in sustainable progress aren’t necessarily a direct result of COVID-19,” explains Shannon. “We started making these kinds of impactful changes as early as 2008 with the launch of our TreadRight Foundation, and our first sustainability strategy was launched in 2015. However, I do think the pandemic has given a lot of companies the time to reassess how they’re managing travel in the long term. For TTC, it’s crystalised the fact that sustainability and resiliency go hand in hand”
One key component of the strategy is the launch of Make Travel Matter (MTM) Experiences. In its concept, MTM Experiences are conscious travel options which take into consideration the social or environmental impact of a trip.
MTM Experiences are identified by a robust set of criteria directly linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and use a unique proprietary online assessment to ensure these goals are being met. TTC customers can spot which brands use the MTM schemes online by keeping an eye out for the MTM seal.
“Make Travel Matter Experiences have already impacted what we are prioritising in travel,” says Guihan. “The industry is realising that if we want the travel experience to be maintained – if we want our communities to be healthy and safe, if we want our children to be healthy and safe – then prioritising a sustainable, regenerative recovery is simply what we need to do.”
Guihan explains that MTM Experiences include a Contiki trip called Refugee Voices – which supports Global Goal 10 Reduced Inequalities. “This gives us the opportunity to showcase refugees’ voices: they become the guides, giving travellers a different kind of learning opportunity. It’s eye-opening for Contiki guests , and most importantly, it invests in people.”
Further Make Travel Matter Experiences include Insight Vacations experience at the SheHeros Cafe in India, which is run by and employs survivors of horrific acid attacks.
Among the 11 How We Tread Right goals included in the wider strategy, one step is TTC’s commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 or sooner. TTC intends to drawdown its direct emissions through conservation and technology, investing in clean energy, low-emissions transportation and innovation.
In its entirety, How We Tread Right has committed to achieving the following by the close of 2025:
· Goal 1: Achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 or sooner
· Goal 2: Source 50% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2025
· Goal 3: Reduce food waste by 50% across all hotels and ships by 2025
· Goal 4: Increase use of local and organic products in our supply chain by 2025
· Goal 5: Reduce printed brochures by 50% by 2025
· Goal 6: Eliminate as many unnecessary single use plastics from our operations and itineraries by 2022
· Goal 7: Include at least one Make Travel Matter Experience on 50% of all itineraries by 2025
· Goal 8: Achieve a 20% increase of itineraries visiting developing regions by specialist brands by 2025
· Goal 9: Increase employee and market sentiment regarding diversity and inclusion across our brands
· Goal 10: Complete 30,000 volunteer hours by 2025
· Goal 11: Ensure all wildlife experiences across TTC brands adhere to our Animal Welfare Policy by 2021
To find out more about the immense steps TTC are taking for a sustainable future in travel, you can see the full strategy at TTC.com/How-We-Tread-Right.