The Travel Corporation (TTC) has released its second annual global Impact Report, which transparently tracks the progress of the group’s five-year sustainability strategy, How We Tread Right (HWTR), initially launched in September 2020.
While TTC’s sustainable journey began many moons ago, 2020 saw the group formalise its 5-year How We Tread Right (HWTR) strategy, which includes 11 goals designed to advance a shared mission to Make Travel Matter for the group’s brands and collectively achieve net zero GHG emissions by 2050.
Sharing the global travel giant’s advancement over the last twelve months, TTC’s comprehensive Impact Report was illustrated in more colour to the Australian media at Re-Bar in Sydney, which appropriately is the world’s most sustainable and first permanent no-waste bar, built entirely from upcycled materials.
Put simply, TTC’s How We Tread Right strategy for universal good outlines initiatives to strengthen efforts that address climate action, sustainable food production, responsible consumption, diversity, equity and inclusion, and animal welfare, all of which take direction from The UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The evening featured an insightful panel discussing the latest sustainable traveller sentiment, emceed by trends expert Anna Thairs with Travel Corporation leaders David Hosking – Chief Executive Officer, The Travel Corporation Australia; Toni Ambler – Managing Director Oceania TTC Tour Brands; Neil Rodgers – Managing Director, Adventure World; Alice Ager – Managing Director, Uniworld and Ben Hall, Chief Executive Officer, AAT Kings Group.
The good news? Sustainability is more important than ever to Australian travellers, with half surveyed agreeing they are more informed about sustainable travel compared to five years ago and two in five people (40%) revealing that their values have changed in the past five years as sustainability and climate change issues have come to the forefront.
Australians want to travel more sustainably but still see cost as a barrier
A third of Aussies (33%) surveyed said they’ll travel in the next 12 months and will seek out the most sustainable option. Moreover, if sustainable travel isn’t possible, over a third of Australians (34%) would consider exploring more local options, and almost 20% (19%) would simply travel less or not at all.
Bringing some context to the research, Toni Ambler, Managing Director of TTC Tour Brands, Contiki, Trafalgar, Costsaver, Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold, said, “With a cost-of-living crisis, it’s no surprise that 53% of us say value for money is the most important factor when planning a holiday, but 69% believe sustainable travel comes at an additional cost.
“Doing the right thing doesn’t have to cost more; we have worked hard to integrate sustainable practices and experiences at no additional cost to our guests.
“Our Impact Report highlights that we now include at least one MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience on 62% of itineraries across our Brands – this represents 571 immersive experiences designed to benefit a destination or community, educate our clients, and support the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development.”
We want to book with tour operators that focus on sustainability
One of the most significant achievements since TTC’s launch of HWTR is the replacement of their goal to become carbon neutral by 2030 with the more ambitious goal of reaching net zero GHG emissions by 2050, designed to address TTC’s impact on climate.
In 2022, TTC became the first global tour operator to have near-term, long-term and net zero targets validated by the Science Based Targets initiative and simultaneously launched an industry-leading Carbon Fund designed to enable investment in green technologies selected for their ability to decarbonise the business.
This, in addition to the nature-based solutions TTC supports through its philanthropic not-for-profit, The TreadRight Foundation.
The research found that digital natives, Gen Z (born during the late 1990s and early 2000s), were the most concerned generation when it comes to offsetting carbon emissions, with over half (54%) agreeing that working towards net zero by cutting greenhouse gas is one of the most important sustainable practices travel operators can make.
Ambler shared, “Contiki caters to many younger travellers and has been carbon neutral since January 2022. We did this by purchasing verified carbon credits from our partner, South Pole. However, the process of validating our net zero targets forced us to identify the fact that offsets do not address the fact that we are an asset-heavy tour operator with ambitious decarbonisation goals.
“These goals require significant investment into the business, thus the shift from the purchase of carbon credits to investing in our own decarbonisation through our Carbon Fund. It’s a very exciting time for us.”
Aussies want to reduce food waste while travelling
Food always comes high on the agenda when planning a holiday, and almost half of Australians (48%) say they want to visit hotels, operators and restaurants that aim to reduce food waste.
TTC’s Impact Report reveals Uniworld has achieved a reduction in food waste by 34% across six ships by introducing the Leanpath food waste technologies in 2022, with a rollout to be completed across the remaining fleet in 2023.
Moreover, TTC reported it has been steadily increasing the use of local and organic products across its properties and ships to reduce impact, support local producers and create delicious authentic cuisine.
As an added benefit, TTC says this approach aligns with Australian traveller interests, with 58% agreeing that they look for a foodie adventure that supports local operators and producers when booking a sustainable holiday.
We also want to support local tourism, trade, and wildlife
It seems increasingly important that we book a trip with a purpose – 65% of Australians say that local tourism, trade, and foundations are one of the most important sustainable practices a tour operator can support.
Ben Hall, CEO of AAT Kings, said, “Australia-wide AAT Kings offers MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences across 50% of itineraries. Guests experience these firsthand through our partners, like Maraku Arts, a not-for-profit craft corporation owned and operated by the local Anangu people, where over 900 Aboriginal artists share their passion through art, craft, and organic experiences.”
What’s more, over 64% of Australians say they would like an experience where they can view or interact with local wildlife and nature when it comes to booking a sustainable holiday.
All wildlife experiences included on TTC brand itineraries are free from animal cruelty, with a full audit completed every two years to confirm adherence to TTC’s Animal Welfare Policy.
Keeping wildlife protected in the wild is a core ethos of Adventure World’s Conservation Collection: a series of intimate small-group journeys which was released in 2022 and features behind-the-scenes wildlife experiences and encounters.
Where to for TTC from here?
Impressively, the group now has 10 Sustainability Leaders across its brand portfolio, led by Shannon Guihan, TTC’s Chief Sustainability Officer and Head of The TreadRight Foundation.
Commenting in the latest Impact Report, Guihan said, “In the long-term, sustainability should be baked into the organisation, and to achieve that, our approach is to build key elements of sustainability into existing roles, recognising that business as usual, has forever evolved, and the true costs and benefits of our business must be woven into our organisation’s decision-making and operations.
While we progress to that goal, we need the right team members with the right resources to make that change happen and at TTC, we have them.”
David Hosking, Chief Executive Officer, The Travel Corporation (Australia) and Director of TreadRight, concluded, “It is encouraging to see increasingly positive consumer sentiment around sustainable travel, but this is not what drives TTC’s efforts.
“Reducing the environmental impact of our business, as articulated in our HWTR strategy, is at the core of all that we do. It is too great a risk not to address these issues in a meaningful, timely and transparent manner. Our investment in a Carbon Fund to support achieving near-term, long-term and net zero validated targets is, I believe, a critical step forward in our sustainability journey.”
To read and download The Travel Corporation’s Sustainability Impact Report 2022 – How We Tread Right, head here.
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