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Responsible Travel: Is it Possible?

Responsible Travel: Is it Possible?

A long time ago, my sister-in-law asked me what my first love was. You know, the thing you first discover as a child and slowly build an obsession around? Sometimes it’s a sport, sometimes it’s an animal (not going to lie, I totally had a Northern Getaway tee with a giant wolf on it during my wolf-phase), sometimes it’s a craft or hobby. In true Gemini fashion I responded with two first loves. Singing and running.

While I still love these two activities and enjoy them on the regular, I’ve added a new “first love” because I think this one was also developed at a young age.

Travel.

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Being a military brat meant we moved a lot, and during our time in the UK I vaguely remember being shuttled around the European continent every weekend to explore alongside my parents. Since then I’ve always loved travel. I even love planes, plane food, foreign airports, the slow, annoying process at security … Because it means I’m GOING somewhere NEW! How exciting is that!?

I have always loved the sense of adventure any stage of travel brings, and being able to save more income to travel played a large role in recently relocating to a small town. Now that I’m building savings to travel, the universe played a great hand in introducing me to something else that was right up my alley. Responsible travel.

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Because while I love how travel is an opportunity to discover new cultures and expand my global knowledge and open-mindedness, since starting on my sustainable style journey, I have started to pay more attention to the repercussions of travel. The carbon footprint of all those planes crossing the sky. All of the disposables that are big cost savers for trains, boats, and planes. The wildlife and local communities that are affected. Of course, tourism can provide a great boost to growing economies but what about after the tourists leave? According to a recent study, global tourism is responsible for approx. 8% of greenhouse gas emissions, and it is an industry that is growing as global wealth continues to rise.

So – back to the universe. At the end of last year, I was invited to a dinner hosted by The Travel Corporation (TTC). You may be familiar with some of their brands like Contiki, Luxury Gold , and Trafalgar among many others. It was here that I learned about The Treadright Foundation; a non-for-profit that was established by, and works in partnership with The Travel Corporation to encourage sustainability and oversee the group’s corporate social responsibility across all brands. The Travel Corporation has about 30 brands. That’s a lot to manage but a whole lot of impact.

For starters, TTC has an EDocs program – when guests opt to receive all of their travel documents electronically, a tree is planted in their name. In 2018, they became the first global tour operator to commit to the elimination of single-use plastics. They are on track to eliminate unnecessary single-use plastics by 2022 in all of their travel experiences.

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I was blown away by Treadright’s tangible impact on the planet, wildlife, and people that it supports. If you’re into sustainable travel that is thoughtful, meaningful, and respectful of the people and places it affects, you’re going to want to know more about Treadright. Or just keep reading for more facts that I found out while speaking with Treadright’s Program Director, Shannon Guihan.

I found out that Treadright is entirely funded by The Travel Corporation, which is still a family owned and operated business. Once The Travel Corporation grew to a level of abundant success, the founder and CEO of The Travel Corporation, Brett Tollman, wanted to ensure that the success of his company reached the partners and communities with whom The Travel Corporation operates. Treadright originally started as the Travel Corporation Conservation Foundation.

To me, this is great news: that a company would redirect some of its profits to initiate and maintain a separate, sustainable arm that holds them accountable as well as takes actionable, tangible steps to help the people, planet, and wildlife it affects. It is heartwarming to me, that a business would take on such a globally-scaled and long-term endeavour when most provide one-off contributions or projects only when budget allows.

The Travel Corporation is still family owned and operated, which also makes me happy because it means they don’t have to answer to public shareholders whose only priority is the bottom line (typically).

This kind of long-term initiative tells me that this company takes its commitment to the planet, people and wildlife seriously. I’m not being paid to write this – I did get a delicious complimentary meal back in December, but it’s the openness of the people at The Travel Corporation that made me actually want to find out more and share this with you.

So what exactly does Treadright do to support culture and communities and generate awareness for wildlife and conservation initiatives?

Treadright has over 50 projects that span their three pillars of commitment: Planet, Wildlife, People. Treadright works with expert partners all across the globe like Tourism Cares, the Wildlife Conservation Society, Wildlife SOS, We Day, and plenty more to contribute to, or initiate projects that focus on their three pillars of commitment.

Some of these projects are affiliated with trip itineraries so you can engage, help and develop your own understanding and awareness of responsible travel.

Here are some of my favourite projects that Treadright has going on right now:

Laboratoria Giuditta Brozzetti

The Laboratorio Giuditta Brozzetti is one of the few remaining traditional frame hand weaving workshops in Italy. The art of hand weaving textiles on antique wooden looms has been passed down over four generations to create traditional Italian textiles.

The Laboratorio Giuditta Brozzetti has established educational tools, and built e-commerce capabilities to provide a stable source of income with funds for the Treadright grants program. This has a direct impact on the community that surrounds it.

This project is featured on three of The Travel Corporation’s Itineraries.

Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco

“Officially established in 1996, the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco (CTTC) employs more than 500 individuals from the Cusco, Peru region. The centre encourages the continuation of the 10,000-year-old Andean textile tradition, and provides support to those working in this heritage industry.” (quote source)

With funds from Treadright grants, the CTTC was able to complete the construction of a traditional weaver’s home which welcomes visitors, provides education and awareness about traditional weaving techniques and promotes the sale of the textiles.

This project is featured on three of The Travel Corporation’s itineraries.

WildAid

Did you know that “an estimated 100 million sharks are killed every year with fins from up to 73 million used for shark fin soup?” (quote source) WildAid works to reduce the demand for many wildlife products and protect wildlife in their native habitat.

This requires significant investment year over year, and Treadright is helping to fund WildAid’s “Conservation Through Communication” campaign. According to media reports, So far WildAid’s campaign to reduce the demand for shark fin soup in China has yielded a 50-70% reduction in consumption over the past 8 years.

So – in trying to answer my own question. Do these initiatives make responsible travel possible? They certainly don’t cancel out the carbon footprint of global travel, but it makes me happy that there are corporations in leadership positions who are acknowledging their commitment to the planet, its people and wildlife. For more information about Treadright, click here. You can also find them on Insta here.

I was introduced to Treadright via a complimentary meal but wrote this blog post sans-compensation because I was really impressed by what Treadright and TTC is doing and really wanted to share. Thank you TTC and Treadright for being so open with me!

As always, thank you for reading, xx

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