Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, announced a new global travel initiative on Monday aimed at implementing sustainable tourism practices. The initial focus will be on conservation efforts, environmental protection, and expanding the positive economic reach of travel to local communities.
Travalyst, as the new initiative is called, was cofounded by Prince Harry, Booking.com, Chinese travel booking site Ctrip, flight search and booking site Skyscanner, TripAdvisor, and Visa.
“Sometimes when we appreciate the world’s beauty, we heighten its fragility. It’s a paradox, but in our enthusiasm, we can put great strain on the natural wonders we travel to see, as well as the communities that call these places home,” the Duke of Sussex said in a speech in Amsterdam on Tuesday. “As tourism inevitably increases in the years ahead, its dangers will increase accordingly.”
Last year, the number of international trips taken globally each year reached 1.4 billion, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). That number is expected to reach 1.8 billion by 2030, which would mean it will have doubled in fewer than 20 years.
According to Travalyst, consumer trend data indicates that while the number of international travelers is growing rapidly, so too is the demand for travel that has a more positive impact.
Citing a survey of its users, Booking.com reported that 71 percent of global travelers think travel companies should offer more sustainable travel choices, and 68 percent said it was important that the money they spent on travel went back into local communities.
The global sustainable tourism market is predicted to grow by $340 billion over the next four years, according to market research firm TechNavio. Thus, Travalyst aims to help companies meet that demand while also using this new platform to inform consumers about important sustainable travel practices and the positive impact they can have.
“We have the opportunity to address this tourism paradox and turn one of the world’s biggest problems into one of its greatest solutions,” Prince Harry said in his speech.
He noted that tourism can strengthen local economies and improve the quality of life for many people. Tourism accounts for 10 percent of global GDP and for about one in ten jobs worldwide, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
Said the Duke of Sussex, “I believe we can—and we must—find new ways to minimize the dangers and maximize the opportunities of tourism.”
So, how is Travalyst going to do that? Well, the precise details on that are still few; Travalyst stated there will be more coming soon. For now, the plan is to get more partners onboard to start developing technology solutions and strategic initiatives that would help scale the global supply of sustainable travel options to meet the growing mass-market demand from consumers.
The goal is to ultimately increase awareness and practices that support local communities, protect wildlife, address climate change and travel’s impact on the environment, and help alleviate the growing problem of over-tourism.
The founding partners’ intention is to spark a movement of like-minded companies, nongovernmental organizations, and change makers.
Prince Harry began approaching potential partners for this coalition two years ago, and he will actively helm the endeavor.
Travalyst will be the first initiative to fall under the Sussex Royal charitable foundation of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after they spun off from the joint trust established by his brother, Prince William, and duchess Kate Middleton.
You can learn more about what Travalyst is up to by visiting the website.
The Associated Press contributed reporting.
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Michelle Baran Michelle Baran is the senior travel news editor at AFAR where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, pandemic coverage, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined AFAR in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.