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The Duke of Sussex is turning his environmental activism to the industry of travel, with the launch of Travalyst, a new global partnership aiming to encourage sustainable travel practices across the industry.
Launching Tuesday in Amsterdam, the partnership brings together some of the biggest names (and indeed, rivals) in travel, with TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Ctrip, Skyscanner, and Visa all joining as founding partners. The hope is that more companies and non-government groups will join as the partnership develops.
Prince Harry, who has recently been vocal about his commitment to the environment as a focus of his public and private life, is spearheading the initiative. He is said to have reached out to these industry players — which collectively have operations in nearly every nation and reach hundreds of millions of consumers — to maximize the reach of the program. The coalition will have a three-pronged approach, addressing industry practices, consumer choices, as well as community-facing initiatives on topics including protecting wildlife, tackling climate change and environmental damage, and alleviating overtourism.
While key actions and steps have yet to be announced, a TripAdvisor spokesperson said a focus of the initiative will be to make sustainable travel options easier for consumers to identify and book — as well as more rewarding for travel companies to offer. That’s likely to be partly motivated by consumer demand; 71% of travelers told Booking.com that they believe companies should offer more sustainable travel choices. However, given the collective scale of these companies, that action also has the potential for meaningful impact. For example, an already-existing “eco” feature on Skyscanner — which flags itineraries and flights that emit less carbon — was used by 10 million travelers in the past 12 months.
That said, sustainability is always a hard thing to quantify. With so many possible externalities of any given trip — from carbon cost to ecosystem harm to effect on the local community — who decides what travel option is “sustainable” after all? While many of these companies have pursued their own sustainability initiatives in the past (such as TripAdvisor’s animal welfare policy), defining and implementing sustainability across an industry with so many sectors will certainly not be easy.
“As tourism inevitably grows, it is critically important to accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices worldwide; and to balance this growth with the needs of the environment and the local population,” the Duke said. “Bringing companies, consumers and communities together is our best chance to protect destinations and ecosystems for future generations.”
At the very least, Prince Harry has succeeded in getting some of the industry’s biggest names to work together.