Travalyst is an initiative set up by Prince Harry, which is setting out to transform the travel industry by reducing its negative impact on the planet (when it opens for business again). Emily Eastman reports
When Harry, Duke of Sussex, and wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, faced criticism over their use of private jets last year, Harry responded by launching Travalyst, an initiative to make international travel more sustainable.
Established in partnership with Booking.com, Skyscanner, TripAdvisor, Visa and Trip.com, Travalyst’s goal is to protect the environment from increasing global travel while enabling communities to benefit from tourism.
Now, the initiative is going further by developing new sustainability frameworks to help travellers find sustainable travel and tourism options. The frameworks will serve as a guide for scoring sustainability practices across the travel and tourism industry.
The first three frameworks cover accommodation, aviation and experiences, and are being developed based on existing standards.
The aim is to build the foundations of a scoring system that is recognisable to anyone booking holidays and trips across all platforms. In doing so, the system will highlight travel providers with strong sustainability practices and support those with lower scores by demonstrating what a good provider looks like and offering guidance on how to improve scores.
An independent advisory group comprising leading sustainability and travel experts is providing strategic guidance to the Travalyst coalition.
Booking.com is heading up the accommodation sustainability framework, which includes measuring sustainable practices in areas such as waste and water management, energy conservation and sourcing, and practices that affect the local community.
Gillian Tans, chairwoman of Booking.com, says: We know from our research that 82 per cent of our accommodation partners are interested in collaborating with us on the topic of sustainability and that 87 per cent of global travellers think that’s it’s important to consider sustainable properties when travelling.”
“Despite this tremendous interest on both sides, the majority of consumers still don’t know where to start. Even though 70 per cent say that they’d be more likely to book a stay that was eco-friendly, we also see that 72 per cent of travelers aren’t even aware of the existence of eco-labels.
“This represents a huge opportunity for us as part of Travalyst to help a wider range of accommodation providers showcase their sustainability efforts and in turn make it easier for travelers to find and ultimately book their properties.”
The aviation framework, which Skyscanner is developing, focuses on creating greater transparency around carbon emissions for individual flights and highlighting sustainability practices of different airlines.
The experiences framework, perhaps the most diverse, is being led by TripAdvisor. The aim here is to customise the sustainability criteria so that it works for each area.
Harry recently said in a speech: “We believe that travel is a good thing … It is the heart of human experience, of cultural connections, and of new friendships.
“It is a global powerhouse that employs hundreds of millions of people, keeping culture alive, protecting some of the world’s most precious spaces, and that introduces us to people, places, and wildlife that we’ve only ever seen on a screen. It is these experiences that we remember and cherish.”
But, he warned: “If we do not act, and in large part get ahead of this inevitable surge, this massive increase will mean we see more of the world’s beautiful destinations closed or destroyed, more communities becoming overwhelmed, more beaches shut because of pollution, and animals and wildlife driven from their natural habitat.
“Based on our research, there is an increasing desire for these types of trips – and we want to make them a reality for everyone, but we can’t do it without your help. … I want to help create a platform where all of us concerned about these issues can work together, where competitors can unite and incentivise a positive systemic change.”
Although the initiative comes at a time of a worldwide travel ban in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of people globally taking international trips has more than doubled since 2000, and could double again if life goes back to normal after the outbreak.