The travel industry is leading the way with sustainability initiatives and commitments. From signing the Glasgow Declaration to committing to carbon neutrality goals and reforestation initiatives, nearly every travel company has a sustainability plan in place.
And that’s something to celebrate this Earth Day.
The hotels, tour operators, cruise lines, destinations and others in this list are ones who’ve made commitments, impacts and pledges this year. From January to April, so many companies from airlines to cruise lines to destinations have added to their sustainability commitments and pledges to create real, lasting change in the industry.
Hotels & Resorts
The UNESCO Sustainable Travel Pledge, created in collaboration with Expedia Group, welcomed several new signatories earlier this year, including Melia Hotels International, THB Hotels, Universal Hotels, Helios Hotels and Accor Hotels’ Mantra brands, bringing the total of properties participating in the pledge to over 6,000.
Back in January, Outrigger’s Hawaii properties were recognized by Hawaii’s Green Business Program for their energy efficiency and sustainable business practices, which include reduction of waste and water consumption, as well as encouraging guests to practice more sustainable travel methods.
Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach became the first in Hawaii to commit to carbon neutrality in February, reaching at least two-thirds of its carbon neutrality goals this year. It is also working with the Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation initiative to plant 100,000 trees in the resort’s own Legacy Forest.
Additionally, Club Med launched several new resort-focused commitments this year, with the Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda starting an initiative to compost its beach’s seaweed to provide locally made compost for local farmers. The resort will also be investing in solar panels this year, while Club Med Québec is sourcing the majority of its food products from local area farms.
Car Rental & Rail
Car rental and rail services are also going green this year. Amtrak just launched two new locomotives, which will replace 75 of its 1990s locomotives by 2024. These new ACL-42 locomotives dramatically reduce both particulate matter emissions and nitrous oxide emissions, reducing a train trip’s emissions.
Rocky Mountaineer, which offers luxury train trips in the U.S. and Canada, is working to reduce waste and emissions. One part of this includes diverting 90 of its waste from landfills by 2023.
Rental car company Hertz announced its new partnership with Swedish electric car manufacturer Polestar in April, expected to purchase 65,000 electric cars for its fleets, which the first expected to be available to rent in North America this fall.
Cruise lines are making big waves in sustainability, too. Costa’s newest ship, the Costa Toscana, operates completely on liquified natural gas, or LNG, as part of its sustainability mission. The ship, then, produces lower emissions than a comparable ship running on regular ship fuel.
MSC’s World Europa, set to debut later this year, is also expected to run on LNG as well as hybrid power, while its partnership with Cruise Baltic will bring the use of shore power to every port in the Baltic Sea region by 2024; MSC’s ports in Southampton, England and Rostock-Warnemünde, Germany have just installed shore power this year, too.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest terminal out of PortMiami was awarded gold-level LEED certification in February, complete with manatee protection plans and pollution discharge reduction plans.
Hurtigruten announced in late March that it would be the first cruise line to launch the world’s first zero emission cruise ship by 2030; it is partnering with SINTEF to make it happen.
Carnival Cruise Line has installed over 200 bio-digesters onboard its fleet to reduce food waste that would otherwise be legally dumped into the ocean. Fourteen of these bio-digesters on one cruise ship can digest 142,000 pounds of food each week, leaving behind a much smaller product.
Explore Worldwide is the one of the first tour operators to publish its carbon emissions data for all of its trips, as well as emissions produced from its other operations. Travelers can easily see their impact for each tour, while the operator expects to begin reducing its emissions using the data collected.
Contiki reached a large milestone in its sustainability efforts in early April, announcing it had reached carbon neutrality this year through carbon offsetting measures. It also launched new sustainable travel kits and merchandise for fans of the brand.
Etihad Airways launched its new “Sustainability50” airbus earlier in the year, which produces less emissions than the average airbus.
Additionally, Singapore Airlines has started a one-year trial program of SAF, or sustainable aviation fuel, which blends waste animal fats and cooking oil into normal aviation fuel. United Airlines is taking a different stance this year, choosing to commercialize and invest in repurposing carbon dioxide to make a SAF.
Southwest Airlines joined the Vision 2045 initiative, which includes sustaining a carbon neutral growth plan into the future.
Delta Airlines launched new eco-friendly onboard items in January, offering recycled, reusable and biodegradable products instead of single-use plastic items. It expects to save 4.9 million pounds of single-use plastics each year.
Lastly, but certainly not the least, destinations across the globe are working to create more sustainable places for residents and travelers, and to communicate that with travelers. Some are even funding sustainability initiatives through tourist taxes.
Earlier this year, the German National Tourist Office launched a microsite for travelers to learn about the country’s sustainable offerings, from eco-friendly hotels to destinations and attractions.
Ecuador extended the Galapagos Archipelago’s marine reserve by 45 percent in January, expanding the reserve into the oceans of Panama, Costa Rica and Colombia in an effort to preserve the biodiverse region of the sea.
St. Kitts and Nevis announced it would ban single-use plastics on the island in February, though there is not a specific date of when this ban will begin.
Bonaire launched its first-ever destination pledge today, April 22, asking travelers to take “The Bonaire Bond” to behave responsibly to protect the island’s beautiful natural wonders. The island itself is investing in Reef Renewal Bonaire for every traveler who signs The Bonaire Bond pledge, adopting one coral tree, which nurture about 100 baby corals each, for every signatory.
Closer to home, Healdsburg, California is positioning itself as a sustainable travel destination. Besides offering eco-friendly accommodations and attractions, it’s also reduced its water consumption by half and now operates on nearly 100 percent renewable energy.