TOP IMAGE: The Treadright Xigera Safari Lodge © Courtesy of The Travel Corporation
For two years, people around the world put their highly anticipated travel plans on hold. Communities worldwide dependent on the tourism industry suffered as a result. During that time, many discussions took place within the sector about the need to re-evaluate operating practices so that when travel did return, the industry could build back better. COVID-19, it seemed, had jumpstarted the long-delayed conversation by travel and tourism to design with sustainability in mind. Now that travel has returned with pent-up demand, it’s time to understand what these promises look like in practice and ensure the conversation has moved beyond rhetoric.
The Travel Corporation (TTC), a group of 41 award-winning travel brands operating in 70 countries, is uniquely positioned to enable positive impact at scale, and is determined to inform travelers how they are succeeding and where they’ve faced challenges. In May, TTC released its first Impact Report (impact.treadright.org/progress), making it the largest privately owned travel company to do so. The report outlines progress against the 11 goals of TTC’s five-year sustainability strategy How We Tread Right, launched in 2020 to address the most pressing issues faced by the industry and the planet: climate, food, waste, travel experiences, DEI, and wildlife. Then came TTC’s five-point Climate Action Plan in 2021 to address the company’s emissions.
This year, TTC announced its goal to achieve near zero emissions by 2050, through a formal commitment to science-based targets. These targets are currently under review by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), an independent body that developed the first global science-based net-zero standard to ensure businesses play their part in reducing emissions in line with keeping the global temperature below a warming of 1.5°C by mid-century.
What Do Carbon Reductions for a Travel Business Look Like?
While it varies on the type of business, TTC has an impressive and complex range including brands such as Trafalgar, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Contiki and Red Carnation Hotels. The group owns 500+ vehicles, 13 Uniworld ships, 18 Red Carnation Hotels, five accommodations, 30+ offices and one winery. In practical terms, emissions reduction means changing the way the business operates. Here are some ways they have already started.
TTC has eight solar projects on its various properties, and since September 2020 has sourced 28 percent of global energy needs from renewable sources and switched nine additional properties to 100 percent. Contiki’s head office in London and accommodations Schöneck in Austria and Château in France all run on 100 percent renewable energy, as do seven Red Carnation Hotels in London. The newly opened Xigera Safari Lodge gets 95 percent of its power from a state-of-the-art solar energy center.
Food is a big part of the travel experience as well as our respective footprints. Food waste is one of the top three contributors to climate change, so food waste reductions are critical. So too is prioritizing local and organic food products, enabling us to reduce emissions associated with transportation while supporting systems of sustainable food production within our favorite destinations.
In 2021, TTC introduced food waste management systems Winnow and Leanpath at 13 hotels and ships and reduced food waste by 39 percent at Red Carnation Hotels since September 2020.
Through its not-for-profit foundation TreadRight, TTC is investing in carbon removal solutions, which play a critical role in mitigating climate change. Two such solutions, showing very promising results in their pilot stages, provide long-term, potential permanent carbon removal solutions while creating co-benefits through GreenWave’s sustainable food production approach and Project Vesta’s ocean de-acidification.
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