Visa helps launch new initiative to promote sustainable travel for all
Innovative initiative advocates for greener, more inclusive travel as global tourism hits record high
By Douglas Sabo, VP, Head of Sustainability
By 2030, 1.8 billion people — about 20 percent of the global population — are predicted to be tourists travelling the globe. On Tuesday, September 3, His Royal Highness, the Duke of Sussex announced Travalyst, a global, ambitious initiative aimed to source sustainable solutions as the demand for global travel increases. Under the leadership of the Duke of Sussex, Visa is proud to join fellow founding partners Booking.com, Ctrip, Skyscanner and TripAdvisor as part of the movement to transform the future of travel and tourism toward sustainable impact.
The goal of this new initiative is to pave a new way to travel. By working with companies, consumers and communities, the initiative initially will explore and promote solutions that help drive sustainable practices and consumer choices in areas including supporting local communities, protecting wildlife, tackling climate change, protecting natural resources, and alleviating over-tourism.
Why is this important? Tourism already is very concentrated and can create a burden on local communities and resources. Tourism also creates an opportunity for a more sustainable approach to travel for destinations, cultures, businesses and consumers. According to Visa data, 94 of the top 100 most internationally-visited destinations in 2018 were also in the top 100 in each of the past four years, with these top 100 places consistently accounting for two-thirds of all international travel. This is not sustainable — for those destinations and for the people and natural resources present there.
Today, there is a growing awareness among consumers about the impact of travel. A recent Visa survey of international travelers found that 68% think about their impact on the local community when planning a trip outside the U.S., and 77% agree that travelers have more of an impact today than five years ago. However, consumers often share that they do not know how to best adjust their choices to address their impact.
Why is Visa involved? Visa has long been engaged in the travel and tourism industry, promoting seamless and frictionless travel experiences all over the world as the best way to pay and be paid. We also recognize that travel and tourism — like broader consumer activities — needs to adopt a greater focus on sustainability in order to preserve communities and places for visitors long into the future.
Joining this initiative aligns with Visa’s business imperatives and our growing focus on helping inspire and empower sustainable living, including our recent role as a founding partner of Brands for Good and our 25-country study on Healthy and Sustainable Living among consumers. At Visa, we are committed to being a force for good — enabling sustainable and inclusive growth for everyone, everywhere. This partnership builds upon our company’s long commitment to environmental stewardship, including our commitment to 100% renewable electricity use by 2020 and our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint. We recognize that we are both a proponent of and a participant in the transition to sustainable travel, which is why partnerships such as Travalyst, our work with the World Travel & Tourism Council and internal initiatives are priorities for Visa to ensure we continue to advance our goals of operating responsibly and sustainably.
Through this initiative, we will explore how we can use the power of Visa’s network and reach to work with partners to identify scalable solutions across the travel and tourism industry. The intention of this initiative is to not only foster collaboration among Visa and fellow partners but also to welcome collaboration with like-minded companies, organizations, NGOs and changemakers to help mainstream sustainable travel. Our aim is to help more people, businesses and organizations to be part of the future of sustainable tourism — a market predicted to grow by $340 billion, or 10 percent, within the next four years (TechNavio).
Through Travalyst, Visa and the other founding partners hope to equip consumers with the tools they need to make sustainable, positive choices. Travalyst hopes that this partnership serves as a catalyst in the movement towards travel that protects people, places and wildlife for the generations to come.
Interested individuals and organizations can learn more about supporting this work by visiting www.travalyst.org.
 Visa International Travel (VISIT) platform, which is a proprietary platform that combines VisaNet data with publicly-available cross-border arrival statistics to provide a view into high-frequency cross-border travel flows.
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