Earth Day programs take root across travel

Travel companies detailed plans for environmental commitments during Earth Day.

In honor of Earth Day, travel companies this week announced a number of initiatives to battle climate change and promote more sustainable practices amongst themselves, their guests and their partners.

Among the highlights, a new five-step Climate Action Plan from the Travel Corp., whose brands include Red Carnation Hotels, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Contiki, Trafalgar, Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold.

The goals include achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 and sourcing 50% of electricity from renewable sources across the organization by 2025. 

Travel Corp.'s Contiki brand for young adults is set to take the lead, with a commitment to be carbon neutral by Jan. 1. Among the steps it will take are investing in carbon credits from South Pole, the cost of which will be covered by Contiki.

Travel Corp. and its TreadRight Foundation also said they would be investing $100,000 in two nature-based, carbon-removal solutions, Project Vesta and GreenWave.

TreadRight has also launched an Impact Hub that shows the progress being made at Travel Corp. brands against the groups' previously established 11 sustainability goals. It also provides tips on how travelers can help.

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"Our TTC Climate Action Plan is not marked by one quick fix, because there isn't one," said company CEO Brett Tollman. "It is marked with the need to act now, to learn and adapt as technology and innovation support our need to transition to a low-carbon business.

"There is much debate as to the right approach when it comes to decarbonizing travel and tourism, and our position is that this must be a process that begins now and commits to evolving as the solutions continue to improve and become available to us."

The Globus Family of Brands 

The Globus Family of Brands has launched the  Lighthouse Project. The company said its mission is to "nurture a culture of care and sustainability" among guests and partners by investing in, and raising awareness of, more than 50 projects, causes and experiences that give back to destinations.

The project, the company said, is focused on three categories: the planet, people and places.

To encourage education, awareness and support, the Lighthouse Project will place a spotlight on one organization per month, providing guests with give-back opportunities. In honor of Earth Day, the first organization to enjoy the limelight is The Ocean Cleanup.

Credit: TW illustration by Jenn Martins
The pandemic's green shoots

Even as it sidelined travel, the Covid crisis also sharpened the industry's focus on sustainability.

"Every year, millions of tons of plastic bottles and other disposable products enter our beautiful oceans, mostly by way of rivers, impacting our ecosystems, our communities, and our health," said Nisbet. "The Globus family of brands is proud to partner with The Ocean Cleanup, a global nonprofit spearheading the largest plastic cleanup in history to rid our oceans and rivers of harmful pollution."

Through May, Globus, Cosmos, Monograms and Avalon Waterways will encourage guests to support The Ocean Cleanup through a monetary donation or by purchasing sunglasses made from recycled plastics culled from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Fuel initiatives

Carnival Cruise Line on Thursday published a video that explains the environmental benefits of using liquefied natural gas to power its newest ship, the Mardi Gras.

Intrepid Travel

Intrepid Travel, long a leader in sustainable tourism, this week announced a plan to further reduce carbon emissions across its operations and trips.

Among the changes: eliminating flights under 90 minutes, where feasible, on its top itineraries by next year.

The company said that over the past year it has also introduced more than 40 low-carbon alternative tours, including closer-to-home adventures and walking and cycling trips in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia. And it is switching out carbon-intensive inclusions for more sustainable activities on a number of its tours.

"While reducing our carbon footprint has been a priority of our company for years, decarbonization is becoming increasingly central in our product design now. As an industry, we must look beyond offsetting, advocacy and administrative green practices to focus on where we can have the most positive impact: our trips," said James Thornton, CEO of Intrepid Travel.

Exodus Travel

Likewise, Exodus Travel announced an expansion of itineraries that use train travel rather than flights on its escorted tours in Europe.

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The company said North Americans can access the trips by flying into London. With the expanded train offerings, Exodus said, a third of all of its trips can now be booked without any additional flights required from the U.K.

Exodus also recently partnered with Rewilding Europe to establish the Nature & Carbon Corridors project and rewild 100 square meters of the Italian Apennines for every passenger. This project aims to rewild 5,000 hectares of the Italian Apennines over the course of five years to promote recovery of regional biodiversity.

Lindblad Expeditions

Lindblad Expeditions will celebrate Earth Day by honoring what it calls "the Restorers," individuals and organizations "who do the hard work of Earth restoration 365 days a year." The company said its goal is to showcase and amplify the voices of those who are committed to climate action, food sustainability and ocean conservation. Lindblad will spotlight them on a special Earth Day landing page and feature them and their work on Lindblad's social channels. Lindblad is also taking nominations of other people and groups that should be spotlighted on its Earth Day Wall of Fame website.

Donation programs from Preferred, Hurtigruten, Hopper

Preferred Hotel Group, which operates Preferred Hotels & Resorts and the Beyond Green sustainable hotel network, unveiled I Prefer Points for Good.

The initiative allows members of Preferred's I Prefer loyalty platform to donate their points at cash value to the Ocean Heroes Network, a nonprofit that equips young people with the tools and training needed to become ocean health advocates.

The I Prefer Points for Good program will run between April 22 and April 30, with members able to donate points in increments of $5, $10 or $20 directly to the Ocean Heroes Network.

Hurtigruten Expeditions said it will donate 1% of the total cost of every Alaskan cruise sold this week in honor of Earth Week. The line also launched an Earth Week sale that runs through April 26 of up to 40% off Alaska and Norwegian cruises through 2023. The funds will be given to the Alaska Wilderness League to help protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, located in Alaska's northeast corner, and other wildlife reserves.

Beginning on Earth Day, the booking and price-predicting app Hopper will donate funds for tree-planting with every flight, rental car or hotel booking it receives.

Hopper expects to facilitate the planting of more than 6 million trees this year in Madagascar, Mozambique, Indonesia, Kenya, Haiti and Nepal in partnership with the nonprofit Eden Reforestation Projects.

Hopper said it will plant up to four trees per booking, guided by the EPA's carbon sequestration calendar. The app says it is the first to offer free CO2 emissions offsets to customers.

Airlines

Alaska Airlines committed Wednesday to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.

Airplane in the sky sunset [Credit: StudioByTheSea/Shutterstock.com]

The pledge goes well beyond the commitments that U.S. government and the airline industry globally have made to reduce emissions by 50% of 2005 levels by 2050.

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The carrier laid out a roadmap to achieve the target through fleet modernization, operating efficiency, expanding the market of sustainable aviation fuel, supporting the development of shorthaul electric aircraft and working with science and technology partners to identify high-quality carbon offsetting technologies.

"Air travel connects us to our friends and families, helps us understand one another and helps communities across the globe grow and thrive," Alaska CEO Ben Minicucci said. "But we know that to live our purpose, creating an airline people love, we must operate every day in a way that cares for both people and our planet."

UPDATED: This report was updated on April 22 to include Lindblad Expeditions.

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