Sustainable travel continues to be an ongoing opportunity in the industry and with travelers, with many sensitive to the impact travel can have on local environments, economies and the individuals that call these destinations home. In 2019, Expedia Group partnered with UNESCO and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to launch the first chapter of the UNESCO Sustainable Travel Pledge. Since then, The UNESCO Pledge has quickly expanded, with major chains such as Accor and Iberostar signing on, creating unique connections across the travel industry to create a travel ecosystem which supports sustainable tourism. The UNESCO Pledge now has 4,200 hotels committed to concrete, transparent and achievable action.
With the world gathering at COP26 in Glasgow, travel businesses are taking further responsibility towards sustainable travel. A trio of organizations is now joining The UNESCO Pledge:
- Atout France: the French Tourism Development Agency, has joined demonstrating its commitment to protecting the environment, local cultures and the communities that depend on travel to thrive. So that as travelers explore France, they do so responsibly and sustainably so that generations to come will also have the same opportunity.
- Consell de Formentera: The local government of the island of Formentera will focus on attracting quality visitors who respect the environment and generate a return for the society of Formentera. It will also focus on promoting sustainability with new and positive experiences in destination such as the protection of posidonia, the promotion of sustainable mobility and reducing the impact of negative environmental and cultural impacts of travel and tourist visits, such as the elimination of plastic bags.
- VisitScotland: Scotland’s national tourism organization aims to deliver sustainable and inclusive economic growth throughout the country. VisitScotland works closely with the tourism industry and a wide range of stakeholders to influence the growth of Scotland’s visitor economy through our activities domestically and internationally. Responsible tourism is a key focus for the organization. VisitScotland is committed to protecting the natural assets which are vital to Scotland’s iconic identity through our marketing, advice, partnerships and activity. Scotland’s UNESCO Trail was launched in October, which was designed specifically to support ambitions to make Scotland a world-leading responsible tourism destination.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Expedia Group have also signed a further MOU extending their strategic partnership to a third year, with promoting sustainable tourism and The UNESCO Pledge as one of the key pillars of cooperation. Nearly 600 hotels in Thailand are currently signed on to The UNESCO Pledge.
“We are committed to giving travelers clear information on sustainable travel options and working with our partners across the travel industry to promote sustainability in the areas where it will really make a difference,” said Aditi Mohapatra, VP, global social impact & sustainability, Expedia Group. “It’s really exciting to see The UNESCO Pledge gather pace with hotel groups, destination marketing organizations and Governments alike who all want to be involved in this important mission. Today, we make it easier for hotels to join The UNESCO Pledge through the launch of the Expedia Group and UNESCO global site.”
The unique combined credibility of UNESCO and Expedia Group provides travelers with visibility into travel companies committed to sustainability and the ultimate goals of preserving culture and heritage, as well as minimizing the negative effects that travel can have on destinations. Partners participate in direct, hands-on reporting to UNESCO and work together to share existing efforts and devise plans to support ongoing improvement in their local communities. With the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) online education and training will be offered to strengthen commitments.
“Since its inception, our collaboration with the Expedia Group has brought together a growing number of committed hotel companies and like-minded organizations to prioritize sustainability and environmental protection, as well as encourage economic and community development and responsible tourism.” said Ernesto Ottone R., assistant director-general for culture, UNESCO. “The success of the UNESCO Sustainable Travel Pledge underscores the need to provide incentives to rebalance the relationship between tourism and our environment while strengthening the resiliency of our communities by promoting culture and creativity.”