Category Archives: Sustainable Travel

In Celebration of Earth Day, The Travel Corporation Implements New Climate Action Plan to Achieve Carbon Neutrality by 2030

Xigera Safari Lodge, part of TTC’s Red Carnation Hotel Collection, is powered by a Tesla solar-hybrid system which supplies more than 95% of the lodge’s energy needs. 

The Travel Corporation is celebrating Earth Day 2021 with a declaration that TTC and its family of brands are implementing a five-step Climate Action Plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, and support their continued efforts to achieve the organization’s sustainability goals.

To further support the transition to a low-carbon future, TTC and its TreadRight Foundation are investing in two nature-based carbon removal solutions, Project Vesta and GreenWave. TreadRight has also launched a new Impact Hub in an effort to be transparent as to progress made at TTC and its family of brands against the groups’ 11 sustainability goals, while also providing tips to travelers on how they can help.   

“As members of the global travel industry, The Travel Corporation (TTC) recognizes its role and responsibility in creating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through its trips and operations. The need for both travelers and businesses to take action to address GHG emissions and climate change becomes clearer and more urgent every day,” the company stated.

Climate change is directly linked to an increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the atmosphere, of which globally, a reported 51 billion tons of GHG emissions are emitted annually.  TTC’s Climate Action Plan addresses Goals #1 and #2 of its five-year sustainability strategy, How We Tread Right, which target the carbon footprint of its business.

Respectively, the goals commit to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and to sourcing 50% of electricity from renewable sources across the organization by 2025. This includes TTC’s 20+ offices, 18 Red Carnation Hotels, 13 Uniworldships, six accommodations/facilities, 500+ vehicles and more than 1,500 itineraries operated worldwide by its 40 award-winning brands including ContikiTrafalgarInsight Vacations and Uniworld

Since the launch of its first sustainability strategy in 2015, TTC has invested in energy conservation and reducing its environmental impact across its portfolio of brands. This new Climate Action Plan builds on TTC’s progress made to-date and its commitment to continual improvement. Advancements to date include the installation of solar panels in 2020 at the Uniworld head office in Encino, California, the implementation of a 400kW Tesla plant supplying over 95% of Xigera Safari Lodge’s energy, which opened December 2020 as part of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection and the recent shift to 100% renewable electricity by Contiki’s Chateau De Cruix and Haus Schöneck as well as Red Carnation Hotel’s Ashford Castle, which sits on a 350-acre property.  

Looking forward, TTC has committed to carbon neutral offices and business travel beginning January 1, 2022, through its partnership with offset provider South Pole. On the same timeline, Contiki will move a step ahead to become a completely carbon neutral business, meaning unavoidable emissions from all trips departing as of January 1, 2022 will be offset going forward. 

“Our TTC Climate Action Plan is not marked by one quick fix, because there isn’t one. It is marked with the need to act now, to learn and adapt as technology and innovation support our need to transition to a low-carbon business,” stated Brett Tollman, Chief Executive of The Travel Corporation. “There is much debate as to the right approach when it comes to decarbonizing travel and tourism, and our position is that this must be a process that begins now and commits to evolving as the solutions continue to improve and become available to us.”  

The Travel Corporation’s Climate Action Plan consists of five points: 

  1.    Measure – Measure the emissions from our business and trips. 
  2.    Reduce – Build on reduction efforts and set ambitious reduction targets by mid-2022. 
  3.    Remove – Through our TreadRight Foundation, invest in new technology and nature-based solutions to remove excess carbon from the atmosphere. 
  4.    Offset – Purchase carbon credits to offset unavoidable emissions, including phasing in carbon neutral trips between 2022 – 2030. 
  5.    Evolve – Continue to learn from others, invest in new technologies and support strategic alliances that enable us and the industry to move to a low carbon economy. 

TTC’s TreadRight Foundation will action step three of its Climate Action Plan in 2021, through an investment of $100,000 USD into two developing permanent carbon removal projects. Project Vesta aims to accelerate the natural process of weathering to permanently store carbon into rock. GreenWave is studying how kelp can be added to soil to increase its carbon storage potential, while decreasing harmful nitrous oxide emissions on regenerative farms. 

“Carbon removal and carbon capture technologies are deeply promising and showing signs of acceleration, noted Shannon Guihan, Chief TreadRight & Sustainability Officer of The Travel Corporation. “It’s important now, more than ever, that we support science-based pilot projects to explore every possible solution, in addition to reducing our emissions and purchasing verified carbon offsets from our partner South Pole,” she added.  

To share its sustainability strategy, efforts and impact, as well as to guide consumers and travelers on addressing their own carbon footprint, TTC has launched a new sustainabilityImpact Hub. Learn more at Impact.TreadRight.org.

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Contiki Holidays Declares It will be Carbon Neutral by 2022

Among Contiki Holiday’s destinations worldwide is Petra, the archaeological wonder in Jordan, visited on its “Israel and Jordan Uncovered” tour. Contiki Holidays, one of The Travel Corporation’s companies, has declared it will be 100% carbon neutral by 2022 as part of a new five-point Climate Action Plan and sustainable travel policies © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Contiki Holidays is marking Earth Day 2021 with the announcement it will be going 100% carbon neutral by 2022 – as part of its new five-point Climate Action Plan which also commits to carbon reductions and evolving to support the transition to a low-carbon future.

A leader in youth travel since 1962, Contiki recognizes the need for both travelers and travel businesses to take action on climate change and address its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and has appointed a new Sustainability Officer, Tasha Hayes, to lead the way.

About her new role, Tasha Hayes says, “With our How We Tread Right sustainability strategy, the evolution of Contiki Cares, and now becoming carbon neutral it made sense to have a front person for Contiki’s great sustainability initiatives.  During my time with Contiki I’ve always championed sustainability and looked at ways we could do better both on the road and in the office.  Contiki becoming carbon neutral is massive, and it’s the perfect opportunity for me to support this direction, as someone who can oversee and monitor to make sure we stay on track to achieving the ambitious goals we have set out.”

As the world prepares to open up to begin traveling again, Contiki Holidays lights the way forward for the travel industry, committing to being carbon neutral by January 1, 2022; this will include investing in carbon credits from offset provider South Pole. This means that all Contiki trips from 2022 will be carbon neutral trips. And travelers won’t need to reach into their own pockets to fund the carbon credits: the cost to offset every trip is being covered by Contiki.

Contiki’s five-point Climate Action Plan is being announced in celebration of Earth Day 2021, as part of its sustainability strategy, How We Tread Right. The Climate Action Plan supports Goals #1 and #2 of the strategy, which targets the carbon footprint of the business – seeing Contiki commit to becoming carbon neutral by 2022, and also to sourcing 50 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

To further support the transition to a low-carbon future, Contiki is investing in two developing, nature-based carbon removal solutions, Project Vesta and GreenWave.

“Carbon removal and carbon capture technologies are deeply promising,” notes Adam Armstrong, Contiki CEO. “It’s important to us that we support the science developing around every possible solution, in addition to reducing our emissions and purchasing verified carbon offsets. It’s equally exciting to have Tasha on board to lead this for us, the next phase of Contiki Cares.” he added.  

The five points of the Climate Action Plan include reducing emissions and setting ambitious reduction targets by mid-2022; and offsetting unavoidable emissions by partnering with leading offset provider, South Pole, to purchase carbon credits from a combination of three meaningful carbon offset projects. These offsetting projects include Gold Standard and Verified Carbon Standard projects to guarantee carbon reductions are made, while offering co-benefits that positively impact local communities: Forest Conservation in Australia, Biogas Energy in Thailand, and Renewable Energy in the USA.

The idea of sustainable and conscious travelisn’t new to Contiki – the new Climate Action Plan builds on progress made to date and its commitment to continual improvement. Since the launch of its first sustainability strategy in 2015, Contiki has invested in energy conservation and worked to actively reduce its environmental impact. Now, Contiki’s Chateau de Croix and Haus Schöneck properties are powered by 100% renewable energy and it uses the most fuel-efficient Euro 6 coaches throughout Europe, while coaches in other regions meet or exceed efficiency standards. This year has seen the launch of more ‘staycation’ trips that remove the need for long-haultravel, alongside lower-carbon footprint ‘by rail’ itineraries, a new vegan itineraryand options for lower-emission vegan and vegetarian meals on all trips. Contiki is also working with partners to increase the use of local food productsto reduce food transport emissions and is assessing the use of biofuels for coacheswithin Europe.

“Our TTC Climate Action Plan is not marked by one quick fix, because there isn’t one,” said Melissa DaSilva, President. “It is marked with the need to act now, to learn and adapt as technology and innovation support our need to transition to a low-carbon business. There is much debate as to the right approach when it comes to decarbonizing travel and tourism, and our position is that this must be a process that begins now and commits to evolving as the solutions continue to improve and become available to us”.

“Ignoring the climate crisis won’t make it go away. Our Climate Action Plan is our commitment to learn and adapt as the world moves closer to a lower carbon economy, a goal we care passionately about,” said Tasha Hayes, Sustainability Officer. “It’s in keeping with our philosophy that travelling sustainability and consciously, matters – and we know young people are conscious of and care about sustainability more than ever. Young people will always want to travel – it’s their rite of passage – so it’s our responsibility as a leading travel provider to provide experiences that respect the people, planet, and wildlife that our travelers encounter along the way, and align with our own sustainability goals.  This is why it’s so important for Contiki to be making this commitment from 2022 onwards to offer only carbon neutral trips. I’m so proud of our team who has made this a reality,  and I’m hopeful that we’re finding ways for the next generation of travelers to continue to travel responsibly”.

To share its sustainability strategy, efforts and impact, as well as to guide consumers and travelers on addressing their own carbon footprint, Contiki has published its Climate Action Plan on its websitehttp://www.contiki.com

Read the Climate Action plan – https://www.contiki.com/contiki-cares/climate-action-plan

Find out more about Contiki’s global goals – https://www.contiki.com/contiki-cares/our-sustainability-strategy

Find out more about how Contiki is going carbon neutral  – https://www.contiki.com/contiki-cares/carbon-neutral

Travelers can book a carbon neutral trip now for travel in 2022 at http://www.contiki.com

To find out more about Earth Day visit https://www.earthday.org/earthday/

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12 Destinations Looking to a More Sustainable Future of Travel

Biking is a way to sustainably enjoy Napa, California’s beautiful vineyards © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

As the travel industry looks ahead, brands are preparing for how to promote a responsible recovery to Covid-19. Luxury travel advisor network Virtuoso, with over 20,000 advisors and 2,000 travel brands in more than 50 countries, is focusing on a ‘conscious comeback’ as hotels reopen in new and innovative ways. CREST (Center for Responsible Travel) and six other global nonprofit organizations have banded together to form the Future of Tourism Coalition with the belief that travelers will demand a more sustainable tourism marketplace. As people look for ways to reduce their footprint, work more responsibly with travel companies, travel to more sustainable communities and better understand the communities they interact with, we have rounded up leading destinations who are laying the groundwork for a more sustainable future – and how travelers can get involved.

If you want to invest in local communities…

Napa Valley, CA

Napa Valley Vintners (NVV), a nonprofit trade association leading the wine region since 1944, has partnered with UNCF to create a new scholarship program for people of color to pursue college degrees in subjects ranging from grape growing, winemaking, marketing, business and more, investing $1 million into the program. Each year over the next five years, NVV will invest $200,000 in scholarships and will encourage its members to bolster the scholarship program with donations to help even more students and to ensure the effort extends beyond five years.

Trancoso, Brazil

UXUA recruits and trains locals with little to no prior experience in hospitality. Owner Wilbert Das has invested in providing language training and university tuition reimbursement as well as one-on-one mentorship for those who need help in certain subjects that might have prevented them from completing secondary education. Despite classes being one-hour bus ride each way, three staff members completed their degrees in 2019, with 10 currently enrolled. Under the name of U-2020 initiative, the goal is to have 20 staff (out of 85) to complete or enroll in a university program by end-of-year 2020. UXUA also offers life coaching, including financial planning. As a result, 35 employees have bought land in the past six years. 

Peru

Belmond helped found the Q’omer Wasicha Project in 2015 to promote organic vegetable management and cultivation in local communities as well as fair trade practices. Several communities in the Cusco region are now trained in the production of vegetables and herbs; the sustainable greenhouses allow the harvest of organic crops that would not usually survive the high altitudes of the Andes, including tomatoes, squash and zucchini. 

East Africa

In collaboration with Africa Foundation, andBeyond offers a Conservation Lesson program for both children and adults living in communities close to wildlife areas. Through the initiative, over 1,600 students in East Africa were able to visit andBeyond’s properties, learning firsthand about the wildlife conservation that takes place so close to their home – partaking in game drives with rangers, swimming with dolphins and witnessing turtles hatch. For many, this is the first time in their life they have been exposed to fauna in a meaningful way. These conservation lessons and interactions with andBeyond guides have been a turning point in many participants’ lives; instilling the passion and knowledge of wildlife conservation and community development in them and playing a major part in influencing their careers.

Botswana

Belmond Eagle Island Lodge has worked with the nearby community village of Xaxaba Island to ensure potable drinking water for the community. Previously unavailable, Belmond donated a Jojo water tank, a leading solution in South Africa to provide safe water, as well as a bowser water tank to ensure a clean water source. Water is then regularly transported from the lodge to the village. Belmond has also assisted with providing medical assistance to the community through mobile clinics. Guests also have the opportunity to visit the neighboring Nxhoga village to learn more about the Khotla from the elders, the meeting and administration system, the cultural relevance of basket weaving and the importance of the fishing industry, witnessing how fishing nets are made. 

Myanmar

Dr Hla Tun has been the onboard doctor for Belmond Road to Mandalay, which has been traveling along the Ayeyarwady River since 2004. In addition to his service for guests, Dr. Tun disembarks the river cruise three days per week to lead Belmond’s free health clinic that launched in 2011 as a free service to locals as well as patients who travel for miles on foot to receive medical attention.

If combatting climate change is your passion…

Antarctica

Just 200 years after the first man stepped foot on Antarctica, PONANT is launching the first electric luxury polar ship in 2021. It will be able to cut through ice floe up to seven feet thick – meaning it can reach rarely visited places like Peter I Island, where fewer people have visited than have set foot on the moon. It will operate with a mix of liquified natural gas (the cleanest fuel on the market) and electric battery (zero emission and can operate for up to eight hours at a time). Le Commandant-Charcot will be fitted with the latest technology for minimizing environmental impact, as well as a scientific laboratory for conducting operational oceanography missions and research. Under the supervision of naturalist guides and onboard scientists, guests will be able to participate in the research and experiments during sailings, including helping set up a research station on an ice floe; deploying an Argos transmitter, a satellite-based system which collects and shares environmental data; and taking water samples.

Costa Rica

In the 1970s and 80s, Costa Rica had one of the highest rates of deforestation in Latin America, but it has since reversed that trend and embraced reforestation. This was largely because of the government’s commitment to the cause, making it illegal in 1996 to chop down trees without approval from authorities. They also launched PES, a program that pays farmers to protect watersheds, conserve biodiversity, or capture carbon dioxide. This has positively impacted tourism. According to the tourism board, over 60% of visitors site nature as a reason for coming. The national parks and protected areas cover over a quarter of the country’s land. Nayara Resorts is committed to the cause. Their newest property, Nayara Tented Camp, sits on a hillside that was completely deforested by farmers over 50 years ago. Nayara hired a reforestation expert to rebuild the rainforest – which began with the planting of 40,000 indigenous trees.

Jamaica

Chris Blackwell’s Oracabessa Foundation is restoring the coral reef as a means to bring back marine life. In recent years, through the Foundation’s efforts, the Bay saw an increase of fish presence by 1,800 percent. Because of its success, the template is being replicated in other fish sanctuaries across Jamaica. New this year, Blackwell’s hotel GoldenEye in partnership with the Oracabessa Foundation opened a new dive shop that is open to locals as well as guests, offering coral planting opportunities, with profits going back into the foundation.

Maldives

Coral bleaching from factors like climate change and El Niño has led to the death of 60-90% of the Maldivian reefs. As the only luxury property that is located both on the beach and on a coral reef, Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi offers guests the chance to adopt a coral frame ($175 USD per frame) during their stay. The coral frames are built using broken coral fragments found on local reefs, which are then rehabilitated in the property’s coral nursery and left to grow and regain their health.

If you want to save endangered animals…

Iguassu Falls, Brazil

When Belmond took over the Hotel das Cataratas in 2007, it not only invested in the hotel itself, but in the surrounding Iguassu National Park. The company committed 4 million Brazilian Reals to help update the park’s electricity supply, redesign the old park entrance and build a bicycle path from the gate to the hotel. It also donated 1.4 million Brazilian Reals towards the Projeto Onças do Iguaçu (Jaguars of Iguassu Project) to help preserve the last of the area’s jaguars. Ten years ago the population of these big cats was in sharp decline. The Jaguars of Iguassu Project installed night vision cameras around the park and used tracking devices fitted onto captured and released animals to study their behaviors and devise programs to improve their survival and breeding rates. Since the Jaguars of Iguassu Project began the number of jaguars has increased from around 9 to at least 28 (census of 2019). After exploring the national park, guests can stop by the hotel’s boutique and purchase a stuffed jaguar where a portion of the proceeds continue to support the project.

South Africa

Pangolins are mini (and adorable) dinosaur-like mammals. While not commonly known in the U.S., these native African anteaters are covered in keratin scales, which are highly valuable to poachers, making them the most trafficked mammal in the world. The species used to roam freely in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, but have been locally extinct for decades. Private groups at andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve can have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with these elusive creatures with andBeyond’s Pangolin Conservation Experience and assist in replacing tags and monitoring behavior.

If you want to lead by example…

Gregory Miller is a leader in responsible tourism, an expert in public-private partnerships and a trained environmental scientist who believes in working globally, acting locally, and protecting our precious natural and cultural resources. Greg joined CREST as Executive Director in 2019, bringing to the organization a global track record of high-impact results in sustainable travel and recreation, biodiversity conservation, and policy development. He is also a founder of the newly formed Future of Tourism Coalition, as well as the Outdoor Alliance, National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance, and Parks in Peril program.

Joss Kent joined andBeyond in January 2012 and brought with him a passion for working with local communities and preserving land and wildlife. He came to andBeyond after several years as CEO of Abercrombie & Kent. Starting his career as a game ranger, Joss has gone on to champion leading sustainability and community initiatives including Ocean Without Border and Rhinos Without Border and continuing a partnership with the Africa Foundation to work with local communities to fill their needs, from building schools to creating water filtration systems.

Cindy Pawlcyn is the chef behind Mustards Grill, a Napa Valley landmark for more than 30 years. She opened the restaurant when the region was still largely pasture, with few restaurants and even fewer chefs (none whom were women!). Then, at 28 years old, Pawlcyn was also among the first to plant an organic garden outside her restaurant. Today, Mustards is still a Napa favorite, and has served more than one million pork chops – her signature dish.

Charity Cheruiyot was the first female safari ranger in Kenya’s Masai Mara. Having grown up in a small village as a member of the Kalenjin tribe, Charity paved her own way to a future in the bush. She now is a favorite ranger among guests of andBeyond Bateleur Camp, teaching the brand’s values of care of the land, wildlife, and people. 

Wilbert Das, the former creative director at Diesel, founded UXUA Casa Hotel & Spa in Trancoso, Brazil. Today, Wilbert’s life in Trancoso extends far beyond the (unmarked) entrance of UXUA. As the town’s “unofficial mayor,” he is steadfast in his support of the community and proves that eco-conscious efforts and a propensity for high design are not mutually exclusive. 

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NYS to Invest $300 Million to “Reimagine” Erie Canal, Expand Recreational Activities, Finish 750-Mile Empire State Trail

As part of the $300 million plan to “Reimagine” the Erie Canal, a 750-mile Empire State Trail will be completed, including closing gaps of Erie Canalway that makes possible the annual  eight-day, 400-mile, Cycle the Erie bike tour (registration now open) © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

This is huge for New York State’s tourism and recreational opportunities: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s is proposing a $300 million plan to reimagine the Erie Canal by creating recreational activities on the Canal to boost tourism and recreational fishing, mitigate flooding, enhance irrigation and restore wetlands. 

“When the Erie Canal was created in the 19th century it set the state and the nation on a path to prosperity, and this year we will repurpose the canal to fit our state’s 21st century needs,” Governor Cuomo said. “This bold and visionary plan to transform this historic waterway will build on the success of the Empire State Trail (750 miles of connected bikeways), grow tourism across Upstate New York, improve resilience of today’s Canal communities and ensure the economic sustainability of the waterway into the future.”

“The canals have played a crucial role in New York’s history and growth, and with the implementation of these new exciting projects, the canals will remain a vital force and make a positive contribution to the economic well-being and quality of life in the 225 communities they travel through,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.

A first phase of funding starting this year – through the New York Power Authority Board which oversees the Canal Corporation as a subsidiary –  includes a $100 million economic development fund to invest in communities along the Canal and a separate $65 million investment in solutions that will help prevent ice jams and related flooding in the Schenectady area.

The remaining $135 million of the plan’s funding will subsequently be allocated to research recommended by the Reimagine Task Force, as well as to solutionsrelated to flood mitigation, invasive species prevention and ecosystem restoration.

New Economic Development Fund for Canal Communities

In the first phase of the program, a $100 million economic development fund will support projects that adaptively reuse canal infrastructure to enhance water recreation, tie the Canal’s new recreational improvements to the Governor’s Empire State Trail, celebrate historic canal structures, and develop unique canalside attractions and activities. Roughly $25 million of that will be allocated immediately to a set of initial projects:

Connecting Communities: The “Brockport Loop” project in Monroe County will connect SUNY College at Brockport to the Empire State Trailand the village of Brockport through the transformation of a canal guard-gate into a pedestrian bridge and overlook, with a supporting grant of $2 million from the Ralph Wilson Foundation. 

Celebrating “Iconic Infrastructure”: Interactive, hydro-powered illumination of Canal “movable dams” – initially in Amsterdam and Canajoharie in the Mohawk River valley – will celebrate the Canal’s heritage and its history as an engineering marvel.

Expanding Water Recreation: A new whitewater destination, at the north end of Cayuga Lake near Seneca Falls, will rely on existing water control infrastructure to construct an active water sports course adjacent to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, to increase eco-tourism and sport visitors to the region.

Adapting Industrial Property for New Uses: Winner of the Reimagine the Canals competition, a canalside pocket neighborhood, will be developed by Madison County in Central New York at a former industrial property in Canastota along the Old Erie Canal – demonstrating a new model for 21st century canalside living.

Developing Destination Accommodations: The historic Guy Park Manor, on the Mohawk River in Amsterdam, will be reborn as a hospitality destination and a pedestrian bridge constructed across the already-existing Canal lock will provide access to additional overnight accommodation along the Empire State Trail on the opposite side of the river.

World-Class Fishing and Restored Wetlands 

To create world-class fishing in Western New York, the new plan recommends managing water releases from the Canal to enhance fish habitat, improve angling opportunities, and extend the fall fishing season in Lake Ontario tributaries. It also includes funding to expand public fishing access along key streams in Orleans, Monroe and Niagara Counties. In addition, it identifies a program to divert Canal water to restore and re-nourish wetlands in Central New York that were compromised a century ago by the Canal’s construction. This will allow areas in close proximity to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, a migratory stopover for more than 1 million birds each year, to be significantly enhanced to further attract naturalists, locals, and visitors from throughout the region and beyond. 

Ideas in this plan originated from the Reimagine the Canals Task Force recommendations,  launched by Governor Cuomo in May of 2019 to pursue a comprehensive investigation of how the 195-year-old Erie Canal could be reimagined for the 21st century. The Reimagine the Canals Task Force Report  was just released.

The Task Force engaged with municipal leaders, stakeholders, local business owners, scientists and other experts, along with community members, to identify opportunities and solutions that support a new vision for future investments in the waterway. Many of the ideas that the Task Force explored came from the completed Reimagine the Canals competition, held last year by the New York Power Authority and New York State Canal Corporation. SUNY’s Rockefeller Institute of Government, on behalf of the Task Force, conducted a series of outreach sessions during the summer in five canal communities – Lockport, Brockport, Schenectady, Utica and Syracuse – to solicit new ideas from the public at large. Ideas were also solicited on a Reimagine the Canals website, offering more distant canal users an opportunity to provide their views to the Task Force.

The “Reimagine” initiative builds on successful efforts by Governor Cuomo to invest in the canal corridor, including the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative and successful Taste NY program, which have stoked new industries, businesses and housing in canal communities. Harnessing the Canal’s full potential to attract more tourism and recreation is a key focus of the Initiative. Governor Cuomo and state agency and authority staff will collaborate with Empire Line communities and continue to consult with Task Force members and other stakeholders to ensure the success of projects as they move forward. 

There are 1.6 million trips taken annually on the Erie Canal Trailway, the former towpath used by mules and horses to pull barges in the canals’ early days. The Trailway is part of Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Trail, which at 750 miles will be the largest state multi-use trail network when completed in late 2020. Governor DeWitt Clinton began work on the original Erie Canal on July 4, 1817. 

In addition to investing $300 million in the Canal System, there are also plans to create two new state parks in the Hudson Valley, add 4,000 acres of land to parks and introduce a $3 billion “Restore Mother Nature” bond act.

Meanwhile, registration has opened for the 22nd Annual Cycle the Erie, eight-day 400-mile, fully supported biking/camping trip, from Buffalo to Albany, operated by Parks & Trails NY, taking place July 12-19, 2020. For information on Cycle the Erie Canal, call Parks & Trails New York, 518-434-1583, email eriecanaltour@ptny.org or visit www.ptny.org/cycle-the-erie-canal.

(See our series on Cycle the Erie, at goingplacesfarandnear.com)

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Country Walkers Offers Responsible Travel Itineraries That Support Conservation, Charitable Projects

Porto, a delightfully walkable city in northern Portugal, is featured on Country Walkers’ Porto-Lisbon tour which also supports “Farming for the Future” initiative © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Williston, VT –By 2030, 1.8 billion people – about 20 percent of the global population – are predicted to be tourists traveling the world. As the demand for global travel increases, consumers are faced with numerous decisions on how to make their trips more sustainable, including where to go, what to pack and how to get there. Country Walkers, a leading provider of walking adventures and a leader in responsible tourism for decades, offers travelers the opportunity to contribute to a more sustainable world through preserving indigenous cultures, supporting local economies, conserving wildlife and protecting the environment. 

“At Country Walkers, we are committed to a healthier planet and to giving back to the destinations we explore,” said Timo Shaw, President of Country Walkers. “Sustainability is one of our core values, from staying in locally owned and operated hotels whenever possible and seeking out environmentally and socially responsible accommodations, to our ardent support of the Slow Food movement in order to preserve culinary traditions and support biodiversity. As a result, those who travel with us contribute to a more sustainable world as well.” 

To further support special conservation and charitable projects in communities and habitats worldwide, Country Walkers created The Travelers Fund, which makes a donation on behalf of every traveler who books a specific tour. More than half of Country Walkers’ tours are associated with an initiative, including:

Mountain Rescue at Club Alpino Italiano (Country Walkers tour: Italy: The Amalfi Coast & Capri). Safety comes first on the Amalfi Coast with a donation to the local mountain rescue team, which primarily relies on volunteers and donations to obtain and maintain equipment for rapid emergency response for visitors and locals.

Wildlife Conservation in the Rocky Mountains (Country Walkers tours: Montana: Glacier National Park and Wyoming: Grand Teton & Yellowstone[KG1] ). The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative seeks to re-connect segments of land that have been separated by development, allowing animals to safely move from region to region on wildlife-friendly highway overpasses. Contributions are used towards constructing one of these wildlife structures.

Therapeutic Travel for Cancer Survivors in Quebec (Country Walkers tour: Quebec: Quebec City & the Saguenay Fjord). Country Walkers supports the Fondation Sur La Pointe des Pieds (“On the Tip of the Toes”), which provides young people ages 14 to 29 living with cancer with an opportunity to regain their sense of well-being through therapeutic adventure expeditions.

Assisting Pilgrims on Camino de Santiago (Country Walkers tour: Spain: Classic Camino de Santiago). The Federación Española de Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino de Santiago coordinates a vast national network of hostels, volunteers, parishes, churches and shelters in an effort to keep more than 200,000 pilgrims safe, healthy and informed as they walk the Camino de Santiago.  

Clean Water in Zambia (Country Walkers tour: Zambia Safari: Exclusive Camps & Bush Walks). In Africa, currently 345 million people live without access to clean drinking water. Together with local partners in Zambia at Charity Begins Home, Country Walkers supports the “Commit to Clean Water” Fund, an initiative that seeks to transform rural communities by drilling wells into deep aquifers and pumping potable water to the surface.

Maintaining the Long Trail in Vermont (Country Walkers tour: Vermont: Fall Foliage). A highlight of the tour is walking along one of the most spectacular portions of the legendary 270-mile Long Trail, the nation’s first long-distance hiking trail. Country Walkers supports the Green Mountain Club, the stewards of this “footpath through the wilderness,” who also promote conservation of and education about Vermont’s mountains and rural land.

Advocacy for Small Businesses in Palermo (Country Walkers tour: Italy: Sicily). Country Walkers supports the nonprofit Addiopizzo movement, a grassroots coalition of over 850 shopkeepers aimed at squashing corruption in Sicily and educating locals about ethical business practices.

Conserving a Historic Chapel in Monterosso (Country Walkers tour: Italy: Portofino & Cinque Terre[KG2] ). In 2013, severe landslides destroyed the grounds of the historic Convento dei Cappuccini chapel and monastery. “Let’s Rebuild Monterosso’s Paradise” raises funds for the restoration, a cost far beyond the modest means of the town or diocese.

Cornwall Coastal Preservation (Country Walkers tour: England: The Cornwall Coast). The South West Coast Path Association advocates for improvements to more than 630 miles of this historic coastal trail system. As maintenance is costly, donations from Country Walkers on behalf of guests help maintain these paths that are heavily utilized on the tour.

Farming for the Future (Country Walkers tours: Portugal: Sintra, Óbidos & the Coast and Portugal: Porto to Lisbon). The Herdade do Freio do Meio farm applies principles of sustainability within the context of the Portuguese montado, a traditional pastoral agricultural system in which reducing reliance on fossil fuels and marketing regionally to provide fresh foods and minimize transport costs are key policies. The farm processes and sells many products on site, providing training and employment for locals.

Campobello Whale Rescue Team (Country Walkers tour: New Brunswick: Bay of Fundy & Campobello Island). Created by Mackie Green, the same captain who offers a whale watching excursion and boat transfers on the Country Walkers tour, the team is trained to dive and rescue whales trapped in fish netting. Donations support equipment and training.

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Country Walkers tour: England: The Cotswolds). Stretching over 790 square miles, the Cotswolds is the largest recognized Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England due to its breathtaking scenery and rolling hills. Country Walkers supports efforts to keep the area well-preserved on behalf of every Cotswolds guest.

For more information on The Travelers Fund and Country Walkers’ sustainable travel initiatives, visit www.countrywalkers.com/sustainable-travel/ or call 800-234-6900.

For more than 40 years, Country Walkers has provided active, experiential, and stunning travel experiences on five continents. Based in Williston, Vt., the company’s specialized adventures and insider access bring the beating heart of a destination to life with well-crafted itineraries for Guided Walking and Self-Guided Walking. All walking trips highlight local cuisine, authentic accommodations, and immersive cultural experiences. Country Walkers is recognized as one of the leading providers of Walking Adventures worldwide, having garnered countless awards including National Geographic Traveler’s “50 Tours of a Lifetime” and Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best” Awards.

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10 Tips from CREST on How to Visit Europe Responsibly

It’s important to continue to visit such popular, but fragile places as Venice, but you can choose to visit in off-season, visit less trafficked places, walk, bike or take mass transit instead of drive, choose lodging and tour companies that follow sustainable practices © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There has been much discussion of late of the negative impacts of over-tourism on communities and the environment. But the travel industry, which offers a lifeline to communities trying to preserve their heritage and environment by providing an economic foundation, is working aggressively to reduce these adverse effects. In addition to introducing sustainable practices in lodging and touring (getting rid of single-use plastic, promoting farm-to-table dining and local services, reducing impacts on water and energy supplies) and transportation (introducing technology to reduce carbon emissions, increase efficiencies), there are other things that travelers can do to travel responsibly: 

Investigate your destinations before you travel to see if there is a problem with overtourism.

Consider not visiting a destination suffering from overtourism during the height of its tourism season. Instead, try to travel in shoulder or off seasons when there are fewer visitors.

Or, travel to less popular destinations in Europe that offer many similar experiences and attractions to a bucket list destination. Resist the temptation to go only to the places you see on Instagram – destinations plagued by selfie-takers, who only remain for a few moments to get a photo, are suffering from the negative impacts of congestion but none of the positive impacts of stayover tourism.

Consider traveling with a responsible tour operator. Tour operators like Intrepid Travel and G Adventures have instituted measures to avoid contributing to overtourism, like organizing early entry when visiting popular attractions, taking travelers to less-visited sites within historic cities, and offering alternative hikes and treks that avoid crowded pathways and lead to less-visited sections of ancient sites.

Be responsible about the photos you take. Get permission to take photos of individuals and respect the physical environment when taking photos – do not go off trail/into restricted areas to take photos. Showing restraint in taking photos will allow you to really experience the destination and be respectful of those around you.

If available, use apps or other devices that can track and help to disperse crowds.

Travel on small cruises that are less overwhelming to a destination.

If using Airbnb or another home sharing site, check beforehand to see if they are legal and what the regulations are in that particular destination. Same for Uber, Lyft and other sharing economy car services – are they legal, and if so, are there rules that you should follow?

Try to use accommodations, transport and restaurants that are certified as socially and environmentally responsible and/or are locally owned. Go on the company’s website to check for this and look for certifications or messaging about sustainability. 

Use your dollars toward good. Tourists need to be mindful of creating a positive footprint on destinations, rather than a neutral one. Spend on locally owned restaurants, locally made handicrafts, locally owned hotels and donate to social and environmental projects.

Based in Washington, DC, the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) is dedicated to increasing the positive global impact of tourism. A unique nonprofit organization recognized for its unbiased, academically rigorous, practical research, CREST is also known for its “on the ground” fieldwork applying these findings and analyses. Originally, CREST’s work focused on the role of ecotourism projects in empowering communities and conserving fragile ecosystems through responsible tourism. Over time, it has evolved to examine how all tourism can be more responsibility planned, developed, and managed. CREST has become a leading expert on the full range of tourism models, from small-scale community-based and indigenous tourism to large coastal resort and cruise tourism. Furthermore, its work has also expanded to encompass country-wide responsible tourism master planning and public sector collaboration. In this era of climate change, responsible travel is no longer an option, it is an imperative. Given this reality, CREST remains committed to its original vision of transforming the way the world travels.

More information at www.responsibletravel.org.

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Wildland Adventures: 6 Tips to Responsibly Travel to Cherished Destinations Being Loved to Death

Venice is one of the world’s cherished places being loved to death by tourists. Rather than being part of the problem of overcrowding in Venice, Wildland Adventures recommends, take the ferry to the small fishing town of Rovinj, where you are welcomed by locals who take you around in a traditional Batana fishing boat. (c) Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

SEATTLE, WA – Certain places on our planet are getting loved to death. Why and what should responsible travelers do about it? 
 
Not long ago, international travel was the purview of the rich and worldly. Today, however, the middle class enthusiastically travels the globe with bucket lists that concentrate attention on the most popular places in the world (and rightly so). Unfortunately, the byproduct of this increase in travel means that If the original character of these places is not in jeopardy now, it soon will be.
 
Kurt Kutay is founder and president of Wildland Adventures, a travel company that for over 30 years has created opportunities for guests to experience destinations from the inside out. Utilizing the Wild Style of travel, Wildland trips build lasting intercultural, interpersonal and environmental bonds. By impressing sincerity, compassion and understanding at each step of the journey, the aim is to enhance rather than exploit the place and people we’ve come to visit. To this end, Kurt offers 6 Ways to Travel Responsibly in an Age of Over-Tourism.
 
1. Manage Your Expectations and Emotions
As with much of life, aligning expectations with reality is half of the road to happiness. Planning travel is no different in this regard, as you anticipate what you will experience. If we allow preconceived notions of the Taj Mahal or Machu Picchu – without crowds — drive our desire to travel halfway around the world to experience these iconic destinations first hand, we may indeed leave disappointed.
 
The proper research will help you to align expectations with reality. Ask many questions, but ask the right questions and don’t be afraid of the answers. Most importantly, stay open to the experience before you. It is unknown what lies ahead and that is the magic of travel. Be diligent in letting go of preconceived expectations, they are persistent. Refuse to let them as well as annoyances like crowds distract you from what drew you there in the first place. That’s when the true joy of discovery flows — no matter what it looks like.
 
2. Find a Local Connection
Hire a passionate, local guide help to deepen the travel experience while avoiding the ‘group think’ impact of large tour groups. A good local guide can help skirt the crowds at popular sites and even introduce less-known sites for a unique perspective.
 
For example, a good guide will take you to the Taj Mahal twice, once to get in line before it opens and later in the afternoon before it closes to experience variable lighting. Kutay remembers his last visit, “Instead of passing through the main gates twice, our local guide took us to the Mehatab Bagh (Moonlight Garden) across the Yamuna River, far from the tourist hordes, where we stood arm-in-arm, standing alone and moved to tears by the beautiful silhouette.”
 
3. Rethink Your Bucket List
Discover wonders of the world beyond UNESCO’s at-risk sites or the favorite ports of call of the cruise industry. Instead of the crowded hilltop towns of Tuscany, try the hills of the Istrian peninsula of Slovenia and Croatia. Rather than being part of the problem of overcrowding in Venice, take the ferry to the small fishing town of Rovinj, where you are welcomed by locals who take you around in a traditional Batana fishing boat.
 
4. Timing Is Everything — Spend Time at the Right Place
Plan your day at famous sites carefully and be sure to get the latest information as local conditions and regulations change constantly. The best plan is familiar the world over. In Croatia, plan to tour Dubrovnik before cruise ship passengers disembark, in Cambodia visit Siem Reap before tour buses disgorge, and in Peru arrive at Machu Picchu before the daily trains do. When you finally are where you’ve dreamt of being, follow slow travel principles and linger longer, but in fewer places.
 
5. Pay to Play
A great many worthwhile experiences cost more. Whether a part of a private and exclusive event or of a carefully managed ecotour that limits the number of visitors, the extra dollars spent help to protect fragile habitats and visitor experiences.
 
In Africa, this may look like tracking mountain gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda for which there are limited permits. To protect the experience in some locales for years to come, some safaris are very exclusive and conducted in a private nature reserve like Timbavati in Greater Kruger N.P. In Tanzania, the remote camps of Katavi and Mahale require bush flights to access some of the wildest places on the planet.
 
In South America, the fragile cultural patrimony of the Inca Trail in Peru and delicate balance of nature in the Galapagos Islands are carefully managed by limited permits and fees that control access and provide a source of revenue for critical conservation programs. Advance planning is required to enjoy the privilege of being among the few where limited numbers of permits are allotted.
 
6. Consider Where You Stay
Your choice of accommodations is one of the most important considerations in minimizing impact on the local environs while maximizing the benefits you bring to the local community. Many hotels, camps, ecolodges, yachts and expedition ships are rated for their level of sustainability. They are rated on energy sources, recycling, waste management, water conservation, food sourcing, and other sustainability-focused initiatives. In addition, many are actively involved in nature and wildlife conservation and in educating guests about ecosystems and biodiversity. These accommodations are deeply connected and committed to indigenous culture and the well-being of local communities. The highest rated ecolodges and camps are safeguarding the world’s cultural and natural heritage while delivering the most meaningful guest experiences.
 
Traveling Responsibly Isn’t About Staying Home

The Center for Responsible Tourism asserts that traveling responsibly “…is about managing travel and destinations in an environmentally and culturally responsible way and designing tourism programs and individual trips carefully to provide travelers with the experience they seek, while leaving a positive footprint on their destination.” Destinations are always changing and we have many choices to make when we travel, “but the important thing is to be mindful of our impact on the people and places that give us so much and help others to do the same…and to keep traveling,” says Kutay.
 
For more information on Wildland Adventures’ worldwide offerings, availability and reservations, call 1-800-345-4453 or email info@wildland.com. Visit http://www.wildland.com/.

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The Travel Corporation, TreadRight Foundation Pledge to ‘Make Travel Matter’

Brett Tollman, chief executive officer of The Travel Corporation, commits the company and its 42 brands, and the TreadRight Foundation to “Make Travel Matter” for the planet, people and wildlife © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

On one issue I take exception to the courageous climate activist, Greta Thunberg: travel – even airline travel – is not the enemy of the climate action crusade, travel is its best ally. She may have taken two weeks to sail the Atlantic to reach the United Nations Climate Action Summit, but the thousands of diplomats and heads of state she scolded and shamed into action, could not.

“What would happen if we stopped traveling, stopped flying? Would we save the planet or unleash a global conservation crisis? There would be global conservation crisis,” asserted Costas Christ, chairman of The TreadRight Foundation, a philanthropy created by The Travel Corporation’s 42 brands, to preserve and protect the planet, people and wildlife.

“What would happen if we stopped traveling, stopped flying? Would we save the planet or unleash a global conservation crisis? There would be global conservation crisis,” asserted Costas Christ, chairman of The TreadRight Foundation, a philanthropy created by The Travel Corporation’s 42 brands, to preserve and protect the planet, people and wildlife.
© Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Christ, who came out of the Wildlife Conservation Society, pointed to the three great forests on the planet – New Guinea, Amazon Basin, Central African rainforest including Gabon. But in the early 2000s, Gabon’s economy was dependent on mining and timber concessions.

The Wildlife Conservation Society went to Gabon’s president and said, “If you continue mining, cutting trees, the party is over in 50 years, but if put aside area for conservation, travelers will come, alleviate poverty and save the forest – your great grandchildren will be able to make their livelihood here.

“With stroke of Gabon President’s pen, he created 11 national parks, protecting 13 million acres – Travel Matters,” Christ said.  “Travel is the alternative to exploitation – preserve and protect instead of poach and encroach.”

 “If travelers did not go to the African continent, the future would be unrelenting poverty. Travel is hope, conservation.”

Colombia, where The Travel Corporation has introduced new travel programs, is one of the 30 places on the planet which are the “Noah’s Ark of Life,” a biodiversity hot spot harboring one out of 10 species.

 “If we are able to help Colombia protect its natural resources we will protect the second largest biodiverse place on the planet.”

“We make an impact when travel supports conservation, protects wildlife and alleviates poverty. Travel matters when it is planned, managed well, sustainable. Then magic happens – we deliver on our promise to make the world a better place.

It is significant that travel benefits the destinations, but travel also enriches individuals, in a mutually virtuous circle.

What is wanderlust and why do we seek out other places? Christ asks. Marco Polo understood. So did John Steinbeck, who, in his Pulitzer-Prize winning book, wrote:

A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike.

And all plans, safeguards, policies and coercion are fruitless.

We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.

Mark Twain, who actually was a travel writer, wrote in “The Innocents Abroad,” “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Costas Christ traveled to meet the Dalai Lama, who travels constantly, to ask ‘Why travel?.’ “He said, ‘in ancient Tibetan ‘gropa’ is the word for human being, but the literal meaning is ‘one who goes on migrations.’ We define the essence of being human to travel – to travel is to be human.

“We think of the word ‘progress’ as hitting goals, but to pro-gress is a kind of travel. In Middle English, “progress” means “to go on a seasonal journey” – so success is a journey, success is linked to travel.”

The TreadRight Foundation, a not-for-profit organization created 10 years ago as a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) family of  brands, takes a percentage of profit from 42 companies to make sure goes to projects that make a difference. TreadRight supports 55 projects in 280 communities in 26 countries in three basic categories: planet, people and wildlife.

TTC, a member of the World Travel & Tourism Council, is joining in a commitment for the industry – which accounts for one in 10 jobs around the world and accounts for 10% of the global economy, to become carbon neutral by 2050. TTC will also take steps to eliminate plastics through its supply chain, and reduce carbon emissions.

“We’re committed to be carbon neutral before 2050 and not through carbon offsets. Carbon is what’s destroying climate, not offsets,” Brett Tollman, Chief Executive, The Travel Corporation and Founder, The TreadRight Foundation. said at a reception marking TreadRight’s 10 years.

“We are at an unfortunate tipping point, where unless we careful, this industry will be the poster for all that’s bad,” he said. “We have the opportunity to make change, but we have to be courageous.”

But though travel  – particularly airline travel – does have a carbon cost (until the technologies improve), not traveling would be far worse for the quest of saving the planet and communities from the impacts of climate change and promoting a more just society.

Christ points to places devastated by climate catastrophe that have rebounded because of tourism, communities and cultures destroyed by war and conflict, like Bosnia and Croatia, rebuild and thrive because of the economic support of travel dollars.

For example, working with the Jordan tourism Board, TreadRight supports the Queen Noor Iraq Alamei, a cooperative that employs women as potters and artisans – giving women jobs outside the home but within the village. With TreadRight support, the cooperative built up a gift shop and opened an Air BnB.

New travel programs in Colombia help create a wildlife nursery and install solar panels, while another program in Sierra Nevada, through Trafalgar, creates an opportunity for visitors to be hosted by a family.

“Travel is an incredible gift. It has the ability to open our eyes to the unique cultures and spellbinding beauty of the natural world. But with this gift comes a responsibility – to protect the world as we know it. At TreadRight, our mission is clear; to have a positive impact on the people and communities we visit, to protect wildlife and marine life, and to care for the planet we call home.”

Craig Kielburger, the co-founder of WE charity, explained how Treadright’s family of travel companies is partnering with We.org, which builds schools, promotes sustainable agriculture, brings pure water to communities – to offer programs in which travelers can immerse themselves into that community.

The Travel Corporation and TreadRight Foundation are partnering with Craig Kielburger’s We charity to create Me to We voluntourism trips to places like Kenya © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

In partnership with ME to WE, travelers have the opportunity to visit three iconic destinations: India, the Ecuadorian Amazon and Kenya. In conjunction with TTC, guests can book ME to WE Immersive Volunteer Trip extensions on upcoming set departure dates or as a requested custom trip. Travelers  stay among local communities in comfortable lodges, owned and operated by ME to WE. All meals, ground transfers, transportation and local sightseeing excursions hosted by an expert facilitator are included.

You can run with the Masai, help build a school, see what it feels like to have to carry water barrels on your back; stay in a family’s home in Ecuador; in India, visit an elephant rescue preserve instead of riding on one.  (See TreadRight.org site, https://www.TreadRight.org/trips/).

Celine Cousteau, TreadRight ambassador, speaks of the difference between tourists financing the cruel treatment of elephants, versus visiting elephants in a rescue preserve © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“Travel is a privilege,” said Celine Cousteau, a documentary filmmaker and TreadRight Ambassador and storyteller. “Experience places and people, become a part of who they are. Travel fosters profound change. Travelers become storytellers. Traveling on an airplane has a carbon footprint, yes, but the value it brings more than compensates.  Travel is an opportunity to bring a thriving economy, conserve, preserve. Make a choice to do good and if travel, make it count.”

TTC’s ‘Make Travel Matter’ Pledge

TreadRight has made #maketravelmatter its mission and its theme and on this year’s World Tourism Day, made this pledge:

The Travel Corporation (TTC) has just announced its new Make Travel Matter Pledge, in celebration of World Tourism Day. Guided by The TreadRight Foundation, a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation’s family of award-winning  brands,  including  TrafalgarUniworldInsight Vacations, Luxury GoldContikiAfrican Travel, Inc.Lion World Travel, Brendan Vacations and Red Carnation Hotels the pledge serves as the next step in a long standing commitment to sustainable tourism and conscious travel.

“This World Tourism Day, Friday, September 27th, 2019, engaged citizens will examine the positive impact travel has on the globe and TreadRight is making its commitment public to Make Travel Matter,” the company stated.

Inspired by Palau’s First Lady, Debbie Remengesau who introduced the Palau Pledge, every one of TTC’s 10,000 team members and 42 companies worldwide are committing to make travel matter, with its new official pledge standing to help protect people, planet and wildlife. In celebration of World Tourism Day, all members of TTC’s family of brands will use the opportunity to stand up and personally commit to share TreadRight’s ethos as travelers, as travel providers and as members of the global travel industry.

Brett Tollman, chief executive officer of The Travel Corporation, commits the company and its 42 brands, and the TreadRight Foundation to “Make Travel Matter” for the planet, people and wildlife © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“Our Make Travel Matter Pledge is another step on our journey and an impactful one as it further solidifies our commitment to helping protect the destinations we work with, its communities and local wildlife,” Tollman said. “As responsible travelers, TreadRight’s ethos has become part of our company’s DNA and what we stand for, and we share our pledge with our guests as well as partners in hopes they will join us.”

MAKE TRAVEL MATTER PLEDGE

I will make my travel matter – for our planet, for people and for wildlife.

When I explore this planet, I will do my best to TreadRight.

I will refuse single use plastics when I can and recycle what I cannot avoid.

When possible, I will offset my travels.

When I meet new people, I will honor their home as I do my own and do so in the spirit of diversity and inclusion. I will purchase locally made items wherever possible and pay a fair price.

When I experience wildlife, I will do so in nature.

I will not ride animals that ought not be ridden, nor support animal cruelty in any way. 

Together, we will TreadRight upon the earth – and we will make our travel matter.

More information at TreadRight.org. #MakeTravelMatter

For more information about TTC, visit www.ttc.com.

TreadRight is not the only entity that facilitates authentic, transformative, responsible travel experiences – there is a whole travel industry subcategory, many represented by Center for Responsible Travel (responsibletravel.org),  Global Sustainable Tourism Council (gstcouncil.org), Earthcheck (earthcheck.org) and the Rainforest Alliance (https://www.rainforest-alliance.org).

See also:

NYT Travel Show: How to Be a Responsible Traveler… and Why

What I Learned From Traveling Around the World in 23 Days

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© 2019 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Devastating Hurricane Dorian Reminds of Vital Link Between Climate Action, Tourism & Sustainable Economy

Tourism creates jobs, provides a sustainable economy that preserves heritage and environment © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

On World Tourism Day 2019, Patricia Affonso-Dass, president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association offered this message:

The theme of this year’s World Tourism Day, “Tourism and Jobs: A better future for all”, is particularly relevant for the Caribbean because no other sector creates more jobs or more opportunities in a wider variety of professions and skills. 

In addition to the 2.5 million people employed directly, many more benefit indirectly from the industry’s contributions to Caribbean health, wealth, education and the environment. Our infrastructure, schools, hospitals, public services, and parks and recreation facilities are all helped by this dynamic and growing industry – already the world’s largest sector but also its fastest growing.

The 2017 hurricanes and Hurricane Dorian that devastated some of our destinations reinforced the indispensable role of tourism in our lives. They remind us that for each tourism employee unable to work because of the storms, many members of their families were also affected.

Initiatives such as “Tourism Jobs for Bahamians”, just launched by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) together with the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), are finding interim jobs for displaced industry professionals.

There will be more jobs as tourism recovers from the hurricanes and the industry resumes its healthy growth trend, and our task is to spread the benefits more equitably to a wider cross section of our people. We want to ensure women, youth, minorities, and the differently abled have open gateways to employment, ownership and leadership within the industry. There are over 1,000 different job and career paths in the industry, a fifth of which are at supervisory and management levels. Increasing diversity always strengthens companies and organizations, especially in tourism. Our visitors come from a wide range of backgrounds, so our people who welcome visitors to our shores should also reflect the full spectrum of our rich human diversity.

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, with the support of many of the region’s local associations and our members, is earnest about its mandate to develop our industry’s human resources. Well over 500 Caribbean nationals have received higher education scholarships through the CHTA Education Foundation. More than 1,000 chefs and several hundred bartenders have honed their skills through professional development opportunities that CHTA and the industry have provided through our Taste of the Caribbean initiative. 

Thousands of employees have benefited from industry-sponsored professional development training, including over 500 who attended “diversity in the workplace” courses over the past year. Earlier this year, CHTA launched its Young Leaders Initiative, in which dozens of young people are developing their leadership skills and their understanding of the industry and the opportunities it offers. 

This does not include the additional investments that independent hotels, resort brands, airlines, tour operators, attractions, taxi and transportation providers, vendors and other industry stakeholders, with their human resource professionals and employees, are making every day to deliver exceptional hospitality. 

Building upon a rich foundation, we have the responsibility to make more opportunities to develop our people and our industry, anticipating technological and consumer demand-driven changes which are now a constant. The recent collapse of the world’s oldest travel agency offers more lessons. While never losing sight of the fundamentals of hospitality, the dynamics of our industry demands our adaptability and responsiveness to change if we are not to face a similar fate.

Tourism can benefit every corner of our region and so on this World Tourism Day, we celebrate the importance of the industry and the employment and entrepreneurial opportunities it represents. We resolve individually and collectively, as businesses, governments and education and training institutions, to continue to invest in our people. 

In the Caribbean, “Tourism is Everyone’s Business”.

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is the Caribbean’s leading association representing the interests of national hotel and tourism associations. For more than 50 years, CHTA has been the backbone of the Caribbean hospitality industry. Working with some 1,000 hotel and allied members, and 33 National Hotel Associations, CHTA is shaping the Caribbean’s future and helping members to grow their businesses. Whether helping to navigate critical issues in sales and marketing, sustainability, legislative issues, emerging technologies, climate change, data and intelligence or, looking for avenues and ideas to better market and manage businesses, CHTA is helping members on issues which matter most.

For further information, visit www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com.

World Tourism Day, Sept 27, Calls Attention to Global Importance of Travel

Tourism to Inle Lake, Myanmar, provides an economic foundation to preserve traditional crafts as well as promote understanding © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

As the 74th United Nations General Assembly gets underway, it is appropriate to be reminded of one of the missions, though the United National World Tourism Organization, to promote international travel. Each year, on September 27, UNWTO commemorates World Tourism Day with celebrations led by UNWTO. Its purpose is to foster awareness among the global community of tourism’s social, cultural, political and economic value and the contribution the sector can make in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2019, in line with UNWTO’s overarching focus on skills, education and jobs throughout the year, World Tourism Day will be a celebration on the topic ‘Tourism and Jobs: a better future for all’.

This is from the UNWTO website:

Tourism’s role in job creation is often undervalued. This is despite the fact that tourism generates 10% of world jobs and is included in Sustainable Development Goal 8 for its potential to create decent work.

New policies are needed to maximize tourism’s potential to create more and better jobs, especially for women and youth. New policies are also needed to reflect and incorporate ongoing advances in technology.

Policies and actions should be geared towards addressing the current mismatch between tourism skills that are taught and those that tourism employers need.

This requires a holistic approach to the future of work in tourism, with heightened cooperation between all actors, including the public and private sectors.

The Future of Work

Creating and ensuring equitable employment is essential to increasing social inclusion, peace and security. The potential of every economic sector to provide decent jobs should be utilized to its fullest.

The emergence of new technologies has led to the development of new forms of work that are rapidly changing production processes worldwide. This both provides opportunities for, and puts pressure, on existing employment, welfare and education agendas.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), global unemployment remains high, reaching more than 190 million in 2018. All sectors and countries, therefore, need to create the conditions for more and better jobs. Embracing new technology can play a key role in achieving this goal.

Making the new wave of technological breakthroughs as inclusive as possible will require considerable investment in training and skills for life and work. Everyone should have a chance to develop their full potential so as to benefit from the new technological era.

To do this we need to examine the impact of technological change on socioeconomic growth, jobs and inequality. We also need to provide tools and skills to those who are looking for a job and as well as to those whose jobs are at risk of automation.

On the occasion of its centenary in 2019, the ILO released ‘Work for a Brighter Future: Report of the Global Commission on the future of Work’. This landmark report takes note of the forces transforming the world – technology, climate change, demography, globalization – to call for a human-centered agenda for the future of work.

By placing people and the work they do at the centre of economic and social policy and business practice, the path towards growth, equity and sustainability consists of three pillars of action:

Increase investment in people’s capabilities

Increase investment in the institutions of work

Increase investment in decent and sustainable work

Tourism is a leading people-to-people sector, with growth rates outpacing world economic growth and international trade. It is one of the main global export categories and with such a high impact on human workforce, it serves as a natural ally of ILO’s human-centered agenda for the future of work.

Tourism and Jobs

Tourism is a major source of employment because of its labour-intensive nature and the significant multiplier effect on employment in related sectors. It is estimated that one job in the core tourism sector creates about one-and-a-half additional or indirect jobs in the tourism-related economy. Overall tourism accounts for one in ten jobs worldwide.

The ILO estimates that ‘accommodation and restaurants’, together with ‘private sector services’, will create jobs at the fastest rate among all sectors in the economy over the next five years.

Tourism has proven to be a resilient economic activity. In each of the seven years following the global economic crisis of 2010, the number of worldwide international tourist arrivals grew at 4% or above.

Tourism is a contributor to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a target in Goals 8, 12 and 14. The sector’s contribution to job creation is specifically recognized in Goal 8, target 8.9. This states: “By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products”.

Tourism’s voice at the UN level is mirrored in other global development and policy fora. The 26th Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government concluded in November 2018 with a high-level political declaration on sustainable development in which tourism plays a key supporting role. The commitment includes UNWTO as the designated global partner and marks the first time the tourism sector has been featured in a top-level multilateral cooperation agenda.

More recently, the G20 Osaka Leaders’ Declaration from June 2019 singles out tourism’s contribution to global economic growth and inclusive and sustainable development: “Tourism accounts for a significant share of the world’s GDP and is expected to continue to be an important driver of global economic growth. We will work to maximize the sector’s contribution to the creation of quality jobs and entrepreneurship, especially for women and youth and in the creative industry; economic resilience and recovery; the preservation of natural resources through sustainable tourism planning and management; and the achievement of inclusive and sustainable development.”

However, despite representing 10% of the world’s jobs, tourism’s role in employment generation and entrepreneurship is often underestimated and undervalued in policy formulation and implementation.

mismatch between available qualifications and workplace reality is one of the major factors impacting tourism employment and talent development. The gap between education and skills/knowledge needs, and the resulting shortages of labour with ‘future-proof’ skills, continues to dent economies and harm job creation prospects. Moreover, tourism suffers from important challenges related to attracting and retaining talent and the improvement of working conditions.

Tourism Jobs and the Digital Revolution

Globalization, technological progress and demographic change are trends that, together, have redefined the tourism sector and how it functions. At the heart of our now hyper-connected, hyper-informed world is a digital-led revolution in markets, as well as in the demand for skills and the characteristics of tourism jobs. Recent years have seen the emergence of digital breakthroughs, including new platform tourism services (the so-called sharing or collaborative economy), big data and geo-localization.

Some of the main issues the tourism sector faces in adapting its workforce to the technological revolution are:

The need to review and update outdated legislation and regulation that supports employment, innovation, entrepreneurship and new business models

The low level of awareness and expertise of new technologies and technological trends

A lack of funding to invest in new technologies and training for the jobs needed for the present and future

The lack of cooperation and communication among relevant stakeholders

MSMEs Are Key to Decent Work in Tourism

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are now the major job creators in tourism. OECD/ILO research shows that around half of tourism employees work in enterprises of fewer than 10 people, while around three-quarters work in enterprises of fewer than 50 people.

Tourism MSMEs are also an important source of innovation and economic diversification, helping to shape socioeconomic development in destination countries worldwide.

However, access to finance, prohibiting business regulations and inadequate skills are major constraints faced by all MSMEs including those operating in the tourism sector.

The main challenge related to MSMEs, then, is to create an enabling environment that at once improves their economic prospects, overcomes barriers to decent jobs, and ensures that MSMEs’ economic activities are environmentally sustainable.

Promoting Jobs For All in Tourism – Youth, Women and Rural Communities

The tourism sector employs more women and young people than most other sectors.

Just under half (47%) of people working in tourism in European OECD countries are between 15 and 34 years of age, compared to a third (32%) of workers in the economy as a whole.

In OECD countries, women account for 60% of employment in the tourism sector. This is higher than the share of women employed in the services sector (47%) and in the economy as a whole (43%).

Women play a leading role in tourism entrepreneurship. UNWTO/UNWomen research shows that the global rate of women entrepreneurs in ‘hotels and restaurants’ (36%) is comparatively higher than in all sectors combined (22%).

Furthermore, tourism creates jobs in rural and remote areas, not only directly but also indirectly through the preservation and restoration of traditional activities. Often it is one of the few viable economic sectors in these areas.

The explicit mention of tourism in Goal 8, target 8.9 of the SDGs recognizes its transformational potential on livelihoods and prosperity in rural communities, both through providing access to decent employment and through reviving traditional local industries.

By providing opportunities for women, youth and rural communities in a variety of roles, tourism contributes to several SDG target areas surrounding empowerment of vulnerable groups and more equal and inclusive societies. More inclusion strengthens tourism’s power to unite people across cultures in a celebration of diversity, increasing overall social resilience.

Despite these benefits tourism provides, it must also address serious challenges surrounding employment for all of these groups.

One is a large gender pay gap. In tourism, women are on average paid 20-25% less than male workers for comparable skills. Women are often over-represented in non-standard forms of employment. Women also suffer segregation in terms of access to education and training.

Low-skilled women often find themselves in the most vulnerable jobs, at risk of poor working conditions, inequality of opportunity and treatment, violence, exploitation, stress and sexual harassment.

Temporary and part-time jobs are particularly common among women, young people, and the less-skilled who are employed in tourism. They can often lead to decent work deficits, including inadequate social security coverage, low wages and income inequality, and poor working conditions.  

The tourism sector’s variable demand cycle, with irregular working hours and unpredictable shifts, poses additional challenges for those (of any gender) trying to reconcile work and family responsibilities. At the same time, however, this flexibility may also provide opportunities to individuals wanting to combine a job in tourism with another occupation.

A Policy Framework for Decent Tourism Jobs

New policies are needed to maximize the potential of the tourism sector to create more and better jobs, while reducing the risk associated with an increasing skills mismatch.

There is a longstanding tradition of the tourism sector working in isolation from other key economic sectors. The way forward is for a more holistic approach to the future of work in tourism, with clear links to other sectors that are important for economic development.

The major ongoing changes and challenges around tourism employment require a new approach to skills development and education, policies for innovation and job creation.

Policies should:

Encourage the progress of innovation in tourism that fosters job creation and entrepreneurship, particularly among women, youth and rural communities, through;

Establishing tourism innovation centres, incentives and programmes to connect start-ups, leading companies, investors and governments;

Developing research on the changing demand for skills due to the digital revolution;

Creating initiatives that promote innovation and technological skills development in tourism;

Bring together educational institutions, the private sector, governments and technology partners to review educational programmes and help create the skill sets needed for future work opportunities, including soft skills;

Further bridge the gap between available qualifications and workplace skills needed, by supporting opportunities for appropriate industry experience, such as internships or scholarships, along with specialized education and training;

Include technology stakeholders in national tourism policy coordination structures and mechanisms, in order to ensure an holistic approach that accounts for innovation and job creation;

Include tourism as a key sector in both national and multilateral agenda for employment, education and skills creation, and overall economic development, highlighting tourism’s capacity to deliver on the objectives of creating more and better jobs.

Join the celebration: #WTD2019

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