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Travalyst coalition announces development of new sustainability frameworks

Built in collaboration with partners including Booking.com, the draft framework has been designed to help travellers find sustainable travel and tourism options across accommodation, aviation and experiences providers

The Travalyst coalition, a global partnership founded by The Duke of Sussex together with Booking.com, Skyscanner, Tripadvisor, Trip.com and Visa, has announced the development of draft sustainability frameworks to serve as a guide for scoring sustainability practices across the travel and tourism industry.

Scalable sustainability frameworks for the entire travel industry

The first three frameworks for accommodation, aviation and experiences build upon existing standards, with the goal of making them easier to understand for consumers and businesses, and simple to implement and scale across the broadest possible range of travel service providers. 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 - while highlighting options that provide a positive benefit. The implementation of these frameworks will also act as fuel for further industry-wide adoption through ongoing outreach, feedback and improvement. This process has been underpinned by strategic guidance from a newly appointed independent advisory group of leading sustainability and travel experts, including:

  • Dr Sally Uren OBE, Chief Executive of Forum for the Future and Chair of the Travalyst Independent Advisory Group
  • Dr Anna Spenceley, Chair of IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist (TAPAS) Group, Board Member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)
  • Darrell Wade, Co-founder of Intrepid Travel and Executive Chair of the Intrepid Group
  • Greg McDougall, Founder and CEO of the Harbour Air Group
  • Jeremy Smith, Co-founder, Travindy and Co-founder Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency
  • Marten Dresen, Founder and CEO of the Good Hotel Group
  • Dr Xavier Font, Professor of Sustainability Marketing at the University of Surrey, and Head of Impact for Travindy

Established by Travalyst’s founding partners, the advisory group will provide the independent and critical analysis that is essential to ensure broad adoption and success of proposed initiatives and activities.

“I am excited to work in partnership with both the Travalyst Advisory Group and the initiative’s partners to help ensure that Travalyst delivers on its ambition to transform the future of travel and the tourism industry,” says Dr Sally Uren OBE. “We have the opportunity to respond to the climate challenge in a way that simultaneously drives socio-economic development, but taking it means wholesale systems change is our only option. Travalyst is hugely ambitious and the Independent Advisory Group will help the project maintain and deliver transformational change that will benefit both people and planet.”

On-going industry and destination collaboration

Building upon the standards, initiatives and frameworks already in existence for specific destinations and types of travel businesses, the ambition of the Travalyst frameworks is to bring these existing models together through a universal system that is applicable for all travel service providers in the industry. For the accommodation sustainability framework, led by Booking.com, this means exploring ways of measuring sustainable practices that have the most impact, for example through waste and water management, energy conservation and sourcing, as well as practices that affect the local community and environment - making sure that they can be applied to all types of accommodation and not just traditional hotels. The draft accommodation framework will embrace and recognise existing schemes, such as eco-certifications, as an established standard of excellence that ultimately helps ensure recognition within the new system being proposed.

We know from our research that 82% of our accommodation partners are interested in collaborating with us on the topic of sustainability and that 87% of global travellers think that's it's important to consider sustainable properties when travelling

"We know from our research that 82% of our accommodation partners are interested in collaborating with us on the topic of sustainability and that 87% of global travellers think that's it's important to consider sustainable properties when travelling," says Gillian Tans, Chairwoman of Booking.com. "Despite this tremendous interest on both sides, the majority of consumers still don't know where to start. Even though 70% say that they'd be more likely to book a stay that was eco-friendly, we also see that 72% of travellers 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 travellers to find and ultimately book their properties.”

The aviation sustainability framework being developed by Skyscanner will focus on bringing more transparency around carbon emissions for individual flights while exploring ways to highlight the overall sustainability practices of individual airlines. For the vastly diverse experiences sector, including everything from massive theme parks to individual tour operators, together with Tripadvisor, the ambition is to customise and weight sustainability criteria accordingly, while providing a consistent framework for evaluation and eventual scoring.

These first three frameworks are now going through the first stages of industry validation, including roundtables to collect feedback from key stakeholders. Pilot activity, including data collection and verification with travel service providers, is set to begin over the coming months with the ambition to start testing how to present potential preliminary scoring to customers on the founding partners’ platforms later this year.

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Takeaway
  • Travalyst has announced the development of draft sustainability frameworks to serve as a guide for scoring sustainability practices across the travel and tourism industry
  • The first three frameworks for accommodation, aviation and experiences build upon existing standards, with the goal of making them easier to understand and simple to implement and scale across various travel service providers
  • An advisory group, chaired by Dr Sally Uren OBE, will provide independent and critical analysis to ensure broad adoption and success of proposed initiatives and activities
  • The accommodation sustainability framework, led by Booking.com, will explore ways of measuring sustainable practices that have the most impact, making sure that they can be applied to all types of accommodation and not just traditional hotels