Travalyst: A new alliance of industry leaders for sustainable tourism
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, is the talk of the town these days, and no, not just because he is a beloved member of the British Royal family, but because of his new initiative looking to be a driving force for sustainable tourism: Travalyst.
This past Tuesday in Amsterdam, Prince Harry along with some big names in the travel industry, Booking, Skyscanner, TripAdvisor, Visa and C-Trip, gathered together in ADAM Tower amongst an intimate group of local entrepreneurs and professionals, including our very own Founder and CEO, Ally Dragozet (pictured front row).
The commitment of such heavy hitters in the global tourism industry comes in the face of desperation to alleviate the negative impacts that tourism is having on local communities and the environment. Currently, with more people on the move than ever before (1.8 billion international arrivals predicted by 2030, UNWTO), destinations like Amsterdam are fighting over-tourism with figures only predicted to rise. The marine environment is continuing to feel the pressure of tourism in areas with coral reefs and rare biodiversity that are in danger of reaching a tipping point for survival. Not to mention the fact that we’re just beginning to comprehend the impact that our flights are having with gigantic quantities of CO2 being produced by just one long-haul return flight, almost 1 metric ton from London-NYC! If there has ever been a time to drastically change the face of the tourism industry, it’s now.
During the launch of Travalyst, Prince Harry stole the show with his heartfelt story of a local boy in the Caribbean that he met while taking part in a coral reef replanting project commissioned by his grandmother, the Queen of England.
When meeting with the young boy, Prince Harry was taken aback by the blunt honesty of his remark, “Because of your country, my country’s coral reef is dying”. Years later, this sad truth became more clear to him that the root of this was unsustainable tourism. While many of us don’t realize it at the time, our actions while traveling and our environmental footprint does have direct repercussions for locals in terms of their livelihoods and the overall beauty of their homes. This raises the question, when we travel, how can we act and feel more connected to the place that we visit? There are many ways and it is our hope that the Travalyst alliance will help make this the norm.
While applaud this new initiative which brings together important influential partners in the tourism industry, Sea Going Green also looks forward to hearing more about how Travalyst will take shape and how the founding partners will use their platforms to encourage more tourists to choose “green” options when planning their trips.
As a sustainable tourism consultancy, our wish list for what we’d like to see Travalyst do is 1. encourage tourism operators to adopt practices that incorporate sustainability into their operations (perhaps via a standard certification). 2. go beyond offsetting CO2 emissions from flights by also targeting domestic (or regional) tourism to lessen the necessity of flying to a destination. 3. communicate responsible tourism behavior that is destination-specific to mitigate harm caused to the natural environment.
Traveling is a privilege and we must understand that when we visit a destination, we also heighten its fragility. Therefore, sustainable travel is the only way forward if we want to continue to visit the most beautiful places on earth.