The Travel Corporation, which owns and operates 40 travel brands — including guided vacation companies, hotels and transportation providers — has announced a five-step Climate Action Plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and continue existing efforts to achieve its corporate sustainability goals.
The plan, announced on Earth Day as President Joe Biden pledged to halve U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in the same timeframe, will see privately-held The Travel Corporation not only implement the five steps of its new plan but also launch a new online “impact hub” at Impact.TreadRight.org where consumers can track the effort’s progress. In addition, the firm and its nonprofit, Treadright Foundation, will invest $100,000 in two ”nature-based” carbon removal solutions, Project Vesta and GreenWave.
While Cypress, California-based The Travel Corporation first launched its sustainability strategy in 2014, a formal effort to address its carbon emissions began in 2019, said Chief Executive Brett Tollman.
“At the time, the U.S. had pulled out of the landmark Paris Agreement, and we felt we needed to chart our own course to reducing our emissions and take leadership within the industry,” he said. “I applaud Joe Biden’s re-entry to the Paris agreement.
“This will hopefully accelerate innovations in clean energy, electric vehicles, carbon capture and removal, and other areas where investments are greatly needed to support the transition to a low-carbon economy,” Tollman added.
The new Climate Action Plan directly addresses the first two goals of The Travel Corporation’s sustainability strategy, which focus on the company’s carbon footprint: sourcing 50% of electricity used across the organization from renewables by 2025 and then becoming carbon-neutral by 2030. Climate change, or global warming, is thought by the vast majority of scientists to be tied to increases in emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
The travel and transportation industries are often cited as major producers of these emissions. “De-carbonization of air travel is a critical next step towards a low-carbon future, and there are technological advancements in the sector that we applaud and eagerly follow,” said Tollman. “Our Climate Action Plan prioritizes emissions reductions and removal.”
The measures impact The Travel Corporation’s 20-plus offices, 18 Red Carnation Hotels, 13 Uniworld ships, six accommodations facilities, over 500 vehicles and more than 1,500 itineraries operated globally by 40 guided vacation brands such as Contiki, Trafalgar and Insight Vacations.
As part of these efforts, the company has installed solar panels at the Encino, California, headquarters of Uniworld; implemented a 400-kilowatt Tesla plant that supplies 95% of energy at the Xigera Safari Lodge in Botswana; and switched to 100% renewable electricity at resorts Chateau de Cruix in France, Haus Schöneck in Austria and Ashford Castle in Ireland.
By Jan. 1, 2022, The Travel Corporation will have carbon-neutral offices and business travel, via carbon offset partner South Pole, and its Contiki division will be completely carbon-neutral, too.
As to any possible expense or impact on prices because of the measures, Tollman said the impact is worth it. “Our efforts to integrate sustainability into our business are not new, they have been evolving since the launch of our Foundation,” he said. “This has not resulted in higher costs, but certainly greater value.”
Despite pushback on environmental policies and measures in some quarters of U.S. society, Tollman’s unconcerned about any impact on bookings. “Regardless of political ideologies, we welcome travelers from all over the world,” he said. “That’s why our sustainability goals impact the way we operate — so it’s not up to the traveler to agree or disagree with our practices, it’s just the way we do business.”