SONOMA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA (April 22, 2022)—Sonoma County Tourism (SCT), as part of its continued commitment to fostering sustainable practices within its destination, is unveiling several stewardship initiatives in recognition of Earth Day.
“Commemorating Earth Day through the launch of these initiatives is just another step in building Sonoma County as a sustainable tourism destination,” said Claudia Vecchio, CEO, Sonoma County Tourism. “We’re thrilled to continue our partnership with Sonoma County Regional Parks and Leave No Trace as well as introduce new programs that help ensure Sonoma County is a pristine destination for generations to come.”
Leave No Trace Partnership Elevated
Sonoma County Tourism and Sonoma County Regional Parks announce today its joint Sonoma County Leave No Trace Coalition Toolkit. The toolkit, developed in collaboration with the national Leave No Trace organization, contains physical and digital assets for land managers and hospitality businesses to promote practices designed to prevent environmental impacts in parks, preserves, and other outdoor recreation locations. Additionally, Sonoma County Tourism and Sonoma County Regional Parks have released its Leave No Trace Five Year Stewardship Action Framework. The framework describes the imperatives of the initiative and outlines the activities required to achieve key priorities, along with a set of outcomes to monitor progress.
Sonoma County Tourism, which entered its partnership with Sonoma County Regional Parks and Leave No Trace early last year, is extending its license with Leave No Trace to the neighboring counties of Marin and Mendocino. This new three-county group will work with Leave No Trace to address coastal trash and litter – developing shared goals and a uniform message to apply along the Northern California coastline.
Rewards For Rubbish Launched
Sonoma County Tourism announced the launch of a litter collection program in cooperation with the Russian River Confluence. The program, titled “Rewards for Rubbish” incentivizes volunteers to collect litter in exchange for treats and prizes. Participating businesses issue volunteers supplies to collect litter. Volunteers then pick up trash, returning the filled bags to the business in exchange for a small reward. Sonoma County Tourism provides all materials and incentives. Businesses interested in joining the Rewards for Rubbish program are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adopt-A-Road County-wide Adoption
Sonoma County Tourism’s commitment to litter reduction extends to its adoption of five one mile stretches of road throughout Sonoma County. Its three-year agreement with Sonoma County Transportation and Public Works sees SCT hold a minimum of 10 roadside cleanups a year spanning all five supervisorial districts. An Earth Day roadside cleanup will be held at SCT’s adopted road in Penngrove.
Carbon Offset Calculator Now Available
To contribute to the vital work of global climate action, SCT is inviting visitors to help the destination reach carbon neutrality by offsetting carbon emissions from their Sonoma County experience. Sonoma County Tourism has partnered with Sustainable Travel International (STI) to integrate its new carbon calculator on sonomacounty.com. After determining the carbon emissions from their trip, visitors can easily acquire carbon offsets from Sustainable Travel International. Doing so provides visitors with a personalized certificate verifying the amount of CO2 offset, with their dollars going towards meaningful climate projects that meet the most rigorous standards for carbon offsetting.
Sonoma County Tourism’s involvement with Sustainable Travel International extends to an upcoming documentary series in association with Sublime magazine and Zinc Media Group. Filming this spring, Sonoma County will be featured in “Sustainable Travel: Where Next?” an immersive documentary series that investigates the real impact that tourism has on the destinations and communities people visit, showcasing stories of conservation, regeneration, and empowerment. The series will make its debut on World Tourism Day in September 2022.
As previously reported, Sonoma County Tourism recently joined the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC®). Membership with GSTC® provides Sonoma County Tourism with valuable resources as it moves through its destination master plan. Sonoma County is currently undergoing an extensive assessment from GSTC, the results of which will help Sonoma County on its path to become a certified sustainable destination.
Stewardship and Sustainability remain at the forefront of everything Sonoma County Tourism does. As the nation’s first Destination Stewardship Organization, located in the most sustainable wine region in the world, SCT strives to create and adopt best practices aimed at protecting and preserving our destination for generations to come. To learn more about SCT’s commitment to sustainability, visit sonomacounty.com/sustainable.
NEW YORK — The decades-long effort to protect the Galapagos Islands realized an important milestone on January 14, 2022 when Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso signed a decree to conserve more than 23,000 square miles of ocean around the Galápagos Islands and beyond.
The new Hermandad Marine Reserve expands the current Galapagos Marine Reserve by almost 50 percent and extends northwest to the Costa Rican maritime border. This swath of ocean will safeguard a migratory corridor known as the Cocos-Galápagos Swimway, which is used by sea turtles, sharks, whales, rays, and many other marine species.
Lindblad Expeditions has had an enduring connection to the islands, ever since Lars-Eric Lindblad brought the first citizen explorers to the archipelago and funded the very first Galapagos Park Rangers. Lindblad’s founder and Co-Chair of the Board, Sven Lindblad, who first visited the Galapagos Islands in 1967 as a 17-year-old, was honored to witness this historic moment alongside Gustavo Manrique, Ecuador’s Minister of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition; President Ivan Duque of Colombia; former President Bill Clinton; Dr. Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer in Residence, and other dignitaries.
Following the ceremony, Sven Lindblad noted, “This is a really valuable and important step for marine protection…And hopefully these extensions will only get larger and larger over time. It’s been a tremendous joy. People have come from all over the world to celebrate what Galapagos has done. These islands are a jewel of our planet.”
See Video of the Signing of the Marine Reserve Decree
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 Contiki, Trafalgar, Insight 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:
Measure – Measure the emissions from our business and trips.
Reduce – Build on reduction efforts and set ambitious reduction targets by mid-2022.
Remove – Through our TreadRight Foundation, invest in new technology and nature-based solutions to remove excess carbon from the atmosphere.
Offset – Purchase carbon credits to offset unavoidable emissions, including phasing in carbon neutral trips between 2022 – 2030.
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.
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 website, http://www.contiki.com
MIAMI– An unprecedented 2020 was challenging for the travel industry and also provided valuable insight into travel trends for the year ahead and beyond. Club Med, a pioneer of the all-inclusive resort concept, is innovating products to align with anticipated trends for 2021, some of which will have lasting impact far into the future. These include working remotely with extended stays (workation); a demand for sustainable/responsible travel; flexible booking options.
“As the leader in all-inclusive vacations, Club Med continues to innovate through this challenging time by offering our guests the best in flexibility and safety,” says Carolyne Doyon, CEO and President of Club Med North America. “We’re utilizing our thoughtful and strategic analysis of 2020 learnings and 2021 market trends to deliver on travelers’ evolving wants and needs.”
A projected return to travel
Americans have started seeing the “light at the end of the tunnel” when it comes to travel. A recent Skift Research study reported that beginning in September 2020, for the first time during the pandemic, more Americans planned to increase their travel spend over the next 12 months. The most popular destinations include beaches and coastal drive-to markets.
While domestic travel continues to be preferred by the majority of travelers, a recent study conducted by Club Med found that 56% of travelers are looking to travel by Spring/Summer 2021 with most looking forward to returning to Turks and Caicos (47%) and Mexico (31%). Club Med has also seen significant interest in travelers who are booking for the 2021 holiday season. Considered “revenge bookings,” the trend indicates a strong interest in families getting together after canceled plans this last holiday season, with advance bookings for holidays at a 17% increase versus 2019.
The pandemic spurred increased domestic travel with Americans looking for shorter escapes closer to home. Through data compiled from recent sales, Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Florida saw a substantial increase in bookings in 2020 from travelers in drive-market regions. From June to December 2020, the resort reported 40% of travelers were from Florida.
However, according toThe New York Times, while interest in domestic travel is likely to continue through 2021, interest ininternational travel has increased since the news of the vaccine. Club Med is well equipped to meet this demand for years to come through the consistent growth of their international portfolio, marking three to five new resort openings or renovations per year, including a new Alpine ski resort annually. Each resort is constructed with a low-density layout – which is defined by low-rise buildings that are spread out across 50+ acres and respectfully integrated in their surrounding natural environments – leaving plenty of space for guests to roam freely and comfortably.
Exemplifying their eco-friendly positioning,Club Med is set to open their eco-certified Seychelles (Indian Ocean) resort in March 2021. This will be its newest Exclusive Collection luxury resort, respectfully integrated along a preserved Marine National Park. In harmony with nature, the resort will offer nature conservation experiences, like marine conservation and turtle nesting. Club Med Québec Charlevoix is also opening in December 2021, with bookings already well underway. Located just outside Québec City in Le Massif de Charlevoix region, the all-inclusive resort is Club Med’s first four-season mountain property with unparalleled waterfront views of the Saint Lawrence River, amazing year-round outdoor activity options, full ski-in/ski-out access, and spacious accommodations. Club Med anticipates seeing a high level of bookings from Americans, as the resort is easy for them to get to and more cost-effective than a do-it-yourself ski vacation – for example, a 7-night do-it-yourself ski vacation for a family of 4 to Whistler would cost approx. $9,900; while at Club Med Québec Charlevoix, a similar vacation would cost $4,500.
Working remotely with extended stays
Travelers have shown an appetite for escaping the pandemic restrictions at home and extending their stays at all-inclusive resorts where they can work or study remotely while also relaxing. In June 2020 Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Florida reported a 9% increase in bookings for “short week” getaways – meaning a 4 to 5-night reservation during the week rather than the traditional long weekend getaway. According to the Skift Megatrends report, the pandemic and the rise of remote work will likely further blur the lines between business and leisure travel. A significant hike in the length of stay in vacation rentals highlights how travelers have been looking at other places to stay and work during the pandemic. Club Med is adapting to this trend by setting up Workation, a hybrid stay between working remotely and a vacation with the all-inclusive service à la Club Med. This remote work and learn option has been available at Club Med Sandpiper Bay since October 2020, delivering adults and children the tools they need to work remotely, including: premium wi-fi, dedicated workspaces (or free to roam and setup beachside!) and printer access. Club Med is looking to launch the concept in additional resorts soon.
Low-density resorts with safety protocols
Travelers will continue taking increased precautions to protect themselves from COVID-19 and expect the travel industry to provide them with peace of mind by offering increased safety precautions. Worldwide, Club Med’s Safe Togetherprogram has established a range of enhanced health and safety protocols that include protective face coverings for staff, hand sanitizer available throughout the resort, deep cleaning and frequent sanitizing of surfaces and facilities, social distancing, capped resort capacity, increased amount ofalready-existent single plated foods in main dining area buffets, and temperature checks on arrival and periodically during the stay. All Club Med properties in Florida, the Caribbean, and Mexico are POSI-Check certified, receivingrecognition from Cristal for the Prevention of the Spread of Infection.
Travelers will also continue seeking destinations surrounded by nature, offering a variety of safe outdoor experiences. All of Club Med’s global resorts, including those in Florida, the Caribbean, and Mexico, meet this demand as they are low in density, spread across 50 acres of land and wide stretches of beaches, creating a sense of privacy and freedom. Each resort features multiple low-rise buildings that are only three stories high, sitting just below the treetops. To further accommodate social distancing practices, dining tables and lounge chairs throughout the resorts are more spaced out with an increased amount of outdoor seating, and activities and entertainment are also predominantly outdoors.
Travel in 2021 will be more touchless than ever. A recent Booking.com study showed 64% of travelers agree that technology will be important in controlling health risks when traveling and 63% say that accommodations will need to use the latest technologies to make travelers feel safe. Club Med’s Easy Arrivalcontactless check-in/check-out prepares guests to fully enjoy vacations immediately. From signing up children for childcare services to booking ski equipment ahead of time at Club Med’s ski properties, everything will be ready for guests as soon as they arrive at the resort. The My Club Med app also allows guests to enjoy a seamless experience from the start of their trip to the end, with options to create a personalized itinerary, preview the daily activity schedules and, at select resorts, guests can book spa appointments and order room service. Coming soon, in order to abide by the CDC’s new requirements for entry into the United States, travelers will also be able to schedule their PCR/Antigen testing.
Skift predicts travelers will continue seeking outdoor and wellness-centric destinations. An unspoiled paradise hidden in the heart of a Dominican palm grove, Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda is the first and only resort in Michès, offering guests a sense of intimacy and personalization. Set upon 93 acres with a 2,000-foot stretch of untouched beach, the resort’s architecture seamlessly and respectfully blends into its surroundings, featuring four boutique villages with distinct concepts designed to deliver tailored experiences for various segments. This ‘resort within a resort’ concept includes:
· Explorer Cove, a dedicated section designed for families with activities and kids clubs nearby
· Caribbean Paradise, the alluring heart of the resort surrounded by lush tropical gardens and colorful décor designed for both families, couples and singles alike
· Emerald Jungle, designed for wellness seekers with a natural Zen pool, spa, wellness bar and treetop wellness canopy
· Archipelago, created exclusively for adults featuring floor-level oceanfront suites with private pools, outdoor showers and infinite views of the ocean just steps away
Sustainability The pandemic has made many people aware of impacts on the environment and local communities. A Booking.comstudy found that more than 69% of travelers expect the travel industry to offer more sustainable options. Avid globetrotters are quickly getting behind the ‘go green’ initiative in tourism decisions and Club Med is proudly supporting the cause. In 2018, Club Med launched its Bye-Bye Plastics program, and is on track to ban single-use plastic products from bars, restaurants and rooms by 2021.
Tourism has a growing impact on the environment, which is why Club Med has always devoted itself to sustainable practices. Club Med’s Happy to Careprogram features a range of sustainable commitments based on values and practices which reflect sustainable development.
Club Med’s newest Exclusive Collection resort, Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda, acts as the catalyst for Club Med’s environment-friendly positioning. Devoting its design, activities and elements to the surrounding region, the resort pays homage to the Dominican Republic’s ecological essence so guests who visit the resort can understand the natural beauty that first attracted many locals to the destination. The resort’s eco-chic concept is based on five core pillars: agriculture, immersion, waste management, energy and people.
Sustainability is at the heart of the resort with special programs and initiatives, including:
· No single-use plastics in the resort
· Locally sourced coffee and cacao products in the resort’s Coffee House, in partnership with local farmers
· Employee uniforms are created out of recycled plastic bottles (currently more than 200,000+ bottles have been recycled for this initiative)
· Programs have been implemented to provide more than 900 locals with language, vocational, and hospitality skill trainings
· Strict eco-friendly certifications from the best in the industry: BREEAM certification for the construction process, and Green Globe certification for the operations
· Solar panel project – an estimated 45,000 square feet of solar panels are being installed in the resort to generate renewable energy
· Programs to stimulate the local economy are underway via various farming development projects to increase the efficiency, quality and demand for local farmers
· In-resort plant nursery currently houses 30,000+ new plants, and more than 2,000 trees were preserved or re-planted during the construction process
· Family environmental workshops offer interactive, fun and educational sessions for parents and children to learn about the environment together and participate in hands-on gardening activities
Flexible travel options
According to the United States Tour Operators Association, the most frequently asked question by travelers who made new bookings this fall was regarding cancellation or refund policies. Flexible booking policies are anticipated to continue into 2021 and beyond. To ensure added flexibility and peace of mind for travelers, Club Med offers:
· Free Cancellation Policy: For new bookings made on or after May 18, 2020, guests can receive a full refund should they need to cancel their stay (up to 15 days prior to the anticipated travel date) for stays on or prior to December 16, 2021.
· Emergency Assistance Program: All guests traveling before December 31, 2022 will receive coverage for emergency medical expenses during their stay, including those related to COVID-19.
· PCR + Rapid Antigen Testing: As required for re-entry into the United States from international destinations, Club Med offers complimentary Rapid Antigen COVID-19 tests either on-site or off-site (dependent on the resort). PCR testing is also available at an additional cost.
Club Med, founded in 1950 by Gérard Blitz, is the pioneer of the all-inclusive concept, offering approximately 70 premium resorts in stunning locations around the world including North and South America, Caribbean, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Mediterranean. Each Club Med resort features authentic local style and comfortably upscale accommodations, superior sports programming and activities, enriching children’s programs, gourmet dining, and warm and friendly service by its world-renown staff with legendary hospitality skills, an all-encompassing energy and diverse backgrounds.
Club Med operates in more than 30 countries and continues to maintain its authentic Club Med spirit with an international staff of more than 23,000 employees from more than 110 different nationalities. Led by its pioneering spirit, Club Med continues to grow and adapt to each market with three to five new resort openings or renovations per year, including a new Alpine ski resort annually.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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 dasCataratas 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.
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 Pawlcynis 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 Cheruiyotwas 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.
CREST’s annual meta-analysis, The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics, will share key studies on COVID-19 and climate change and the lessons that may be applied from the former to meet the challenges of the latter. CREST’s World Tourism Day Webinar will share the report’s key findings and will bring together experts to discuss consumer, business, and destination trends in the context of recovery.
Distinguished speakers will explore the unprecedented opportunity to mitigate two existential threats, climate change and COVID-19, with one coordinated approach, truly making the world a safer, more equitable, and more resilient place for all.
The latest report, The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics 2020, a special edition on lessons from COVID-19 for tourism in a changing climate, comes at an unprecedented time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has highlighted the immense need and value of tourism, while fundamentally changing the way destinations, businesses, and travelers will plan, manage, and experience tourism. At the same time, climate change remains an existential threat that has real consequences for destinations and communities everywhere.
The report includes a special focus on the two major crises facing our world today: climate change and COVID-19. Sharing cutting-edge research and examples, the report describes how travelers, tourism businesses, and destinations are implementing workable, sustainable solutions to support our planet and its people. The report also provides an overview of what consumers, businesses, and destinations are experiencing during COVID-19 and offers sustainable solutions that can help the tourism industry on a road to responsible recovery.
“Crisis often breeds innovation, and destination communities and businesses must now take the time to reconsider the path forward,” said Gregory Miller, Executive Director of CREST. “As we look to the future of tourism, the same rigor and dedication that is needed to adapt to the pandemic must also be applied to neutralize the threat of climate change.”
Trends & Statistics 2020 updates CREST’s previous industry studies, released every year since 2013. This year’s report was prepared in collaboration with more than 30 leading organizations, researchers, and institutions, including the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
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
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
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 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.
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
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.
A new bill in Congress will, if passed, enable communities
across America to connect their trails, sidewalks and bikeways to the places
that people want to go – by bike or walking – within and between communities.
But our U.S. Representatives need to hear from us to make it happen.
The Connecting America’s Active Transportation System Act,
co-sponsored by Reps. Jared Huffman (Calif.-2), Daniel Lipinski (Ill.-3) and
Chris Pappas (N.H.-1), will provide $500 million in direct funding annually to
help communities and regions across the country build connected
active-transportation systems to ensure people can get where they want to go
safely by foot, bike or wheelchair.
This proposal, coupled with increases in funding for
Transportation Alternatives and the Recreational Trails Program, would
provide critical resources for communities to build safe, convenient and
accessible places for people to walk, bike and roll.
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s top policy priority is to
create this game-changing opportunity to build a trail and active
transportation system to serve the nation.
“Our research has found that wise investments in connecting
trails, sidewalks, bikeways and other active transportation systems are
creating returns of more than $34 billion in health,
environmental and economic benefits around the country,” said Kevin Mills,
Rails-to-Trails Vice President of Policy. “And that return could even be quadrupled as
more communities have the opportunity to connect their active transportation
“People across the country want to be able to safely walk
and bike where they need to go. The Connecting America’s Active Transportation
System Act is a major leap forward because it would reshape federal
transportation law to recognize that communities nationwide need safe,
connected trail and active-transportation networks.
“Urge your representative to sign on to the Connecting
America’s Active Transportation System Act.”