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Travalyst Coalition develops sustainability frameworks

The group aims to help people make travel choices that can better protect wildlife, communities and the environment

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Skyscanner's global brand director, Jo McClintock, chats with industry representatives. Credit: Travalyst

LONDON - Travalyst Coalition, a global partnership founded by the Duke of Sussex, Booking.com, Skyscanner, Tripadvisor, Trip.com and Visa, are developing sustainability frameworks to serve as a guide for sustainability practices across the travel and tourism industry.

Skyscanner global brand director, Ms Jo McClintock, said: "In many respects, the aims of Travalyst are now more important than ever; as the travel industry recovers in the wake of this crisis, it will be essential that sustainability and benefits for local communities are at the heart of the re-building effort."

The first three frameworks for accommodation, aviation and experiences are being developed building upon existing standards, with the goal of making them easier to understand for consumers and businesses, and to implement and scale across the broadest possible range of travel service providers.

An advisory group of leading industry and sustainability experts will provide guidance to ensure global scalability and relevance. These frameworks will serve as the foundation for an eventual scoring system that would be recognisable by anyone booking holidays and trips across all platforms.

The goal is to highlight travel providers with strong sustainability practices already in place and offer people an easy way to understand and identify more sustainable travel options that are kinder and less destructive to local communities, wildlife and environment. It will also highlight options that provide positive benefit.

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The Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, at the Travalyst summit in Februrary 2020. Credit: Travalyst

The aviation sustainability framework being developed by Skyscanner will focus is on bringing more transparency around carbon emissions for individual flights, whilst also exploring ways to highlight the overall sustainability practices of individual airlines.

For the experiences sector, from massive theme parks to individual tour operators, together with Tripadvisor, the ambition is to customise and weight the sustainability criteria accordingly, while still providing a consistent framework for evaluation and eventual scoring.

A recent Skyscanner survey of 8,346 people who visited the website between 10-12 April 2020 revealed that over half (52%) of Skyscanner travellers in Asia Pacific believe it will be safe to travel internationally later this year.

This belief rises to 79% for domestic travel and is supported by early intent in search and re-direct data for key holiday periods this year and early 2021, although the total volumes are low.

"One thing is certain, we as humans will still want to connect with one another - see family and friends who live in other places, and meet colleagues or business associates. Although it's not clear when the world will open again, we are certain that it will open again. When it does, we believe that travel for all reasons - including MICE - will thrive in the world post COVID-19," said Ms McClintock.

The advisory group is being led by Forum for the Future CEO, Dr Sally Uren.

Other members are:
1.    Dr Anna Spenceley, chair of IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist (TAPAS) Group, and board member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)
2.    Mr Darrell Wade, co-founder of Intrepid Travel, and executive chair of the Intrepid Group
3.    Mr Greg McDougall, founder and CEO of the Harbour Air Group
4.    Mr Jeremy Smith, co-founder of Travindy, and co-founder of Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency
5.    Mr Marten Dresen, founder and CEO of the Good Hotel Group
6.    Dr Xavier Font, professor of Sustainability Marketing at the University of Surrey, and head of Impact for Travindy.