How ‘tourism concerns’ pave the way for sustainable travel

As the world emerges from the pandemic, travelers, and thus the travel industry, are increasingly interested in ways to turn travel into a force for good.

Perhaps it is the fact that the entire world has passed a common crisis, or that climate change is nearing a point of no return, after which the repercussions will become irreparable; But, for whatever reason, people are looking to make more conscious choices when planning their trips.

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Environmental and social development goals suddenly seem more urgent and personal, and travelers are acutely aware of the effects that each of us (and tourism dollars) can have on the course of the future.

But, at least one organization, the US-based nonprofit 501c3 Tourism, has been ahead of the curve when it comes to spurring positive social, environmental and economic change for the travel industry and the communities it touches.

Sustainability is a multi-faceted principle and Tourism Cares is doing its part to ensure the long-term viability of the sector from its inception by supporting all kinds of sustainability efforts and finding solutions to specific challenges.

The organization was formed when the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) Travelers Preservation Corporation and the National Tourist Association of the National Tourist Association (NTA) were merged into a single foundation, the primary purpose of which was to provide tourism-related grants.

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The concept of environmental sustainability. (Image via iStock/Getty Images Plus/RomoloTavani)

Sometimes, necessary changes come in the wake of a disaster. In the aftermath of 9/11, the organization recognized for the first time the need for the travel industry to shift from a competitive approach to a collaborative one. In this spirit, the foundation’s signature program, then called Tourism Cares America (now the Meaningful Travel Summit) was launched in 2003.

At that first gathering, more than 300 travel professionals from across the United States gathered to volunteer to bring the best to beloved tourist destinations in need of help. “Giving has become a legacy of Tourism Cares, and it has sparked a collaboration we’ve never seen before in travel and join us together for purpose,” explained Jesica Flores, Chief Experience Officer, Tourism Cares.

“What started with revitalizing volunteer efforts has grown into participation and investment in social and environmental impact organizations that provide real and sustainable change, and many direct economic benefits to communities around the world,” she added.

Since 2003, Tourism Cares has donated over $1.2 million in grants and volunteer efforts to help grow and restore destinations around the world.

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The path that leads to a sustainable future. (Image via iStock/Getty Images Plus/smshoot)

The list of companies and organizations that make up the Tourism Cares community reads like “who’s who” in the travel industry, with members coming from all sectors. The list includes more than 160 groups and companies that reach millions of travelers each year.

When asked how Tourism Cares has succeeded in attracting participation and investment by many notable industry names, Flores said, “I think companies are beyond the marketing value of sustainability, and while many of our member companies want to be in good company, I believe Our membership truly believes that travel can change the world and we are ready to do the work.”

“Every organization is in a different place in how they can make a positive impact on the planet and communities,” Flores continued. “I think that’s the attractive thing about joining Tourism Cars, it’s a place for everyone. We really strive to build an inclusive community, and most importantly we don’t do the work for our members. We provide resources, education, and connections so they can build more sustainable practices in Their work. This is empowerment and drives long-term change.”

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Sustainability has become an important consideration for travelers. (Image via iStock/Getty Images Plus/VichienPetchmai)

She explained, “We hold two summits a year primarily, one in the spring and fall, with one always hosted in North America and the other globally. We typically focus on destinations that demonstrate sustainable tourism, or are groundbreaking and can set a strong example for our industry.”

When it comes to selecting a proposed project for funding, Flores said, “there is no ‘single’ way we choose meaningful Travel Summit projects.” She explained: “The projects and organizations we fund often suffer from a lack of resources and often do not have a strong connection to the mainstream travel market, so we help increase their visibility. The organizations we choose to fund are relevant to travel and tourism, and by supporting them, they strengthen the foundations of our industry.” .

For more information, visit Tourismcares.org.

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