Today in Amsterdam HRH the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, officially launched Travalyst– a new global initiative aiming to change the impact of travel.
The project is in collaboration with leaders in the travel industry (Booking.com, Ctrip, Skyscanner, TripAdvisor and Visa) in order to be a “catalyst for change” in protecting tourist destinations and their local communities.
After two years of planning, Travalyst is the first major project under the Duke and Duchess of Sussex new charitable foundation, Sussex Royal- which is launching in 2020.
Currently, there are no concrete plans, with the companies saying further announcements would be expected within the next 18 months.
However, their website does outline key aspects that represent “sustainable travel” to them, these include the importance of carbon offsets, eliminating single-use plastics, conserving natural resources and protecting plant and animal life. (https://www.travalyst.org/)
Since 2000, the numbers of those taking international trips have more than doubled. Therefore, increases in the impact of these trips have been seen on not only the local communities but the environment.
Prince Harry gave the example of Nepal, where the government recently removed 11 tonnes of waste from Mount Everest.
HRH also outlined issues of tourism in Thailand, stating: “Maya Bay in Thailand, which was made famous by the film “The Beach”, has been so besieged that its reefs have died, its bio-luminescent waters have filled with trash, and its beach will be closed to tourists until at least 2021.”
The Duke of Sussex went on to discuss how “we have the opportunity to address this tourism paradox and turn one of the world’s biggest problems into one of its greatest solutions.”
Although, the initiative will not encourage people to travel less but instead try to promote more sustainable and conscious methods of travel.
The speech outlined how tourism was a source of opportunity for communities to strengthen their economies, with tourism accounting for 10% of global GDP.
The aim is for the companies within the initiative to commit to using their global influence to encourage systemic change.
Travalyst wants to place the communities themselves at the centre of their efforts, working with them to provide these changes.
Prince Harry closed the speech saying: “By promoting and incentivising sustainable decision-making, by helping us as consumers stay better informed, and by empowering communities, Travalyst will strive to change both the travel industry and the world for the better— and for the long term.”
A recent report conducted by Booking.com showed how there is a great demand for more sustainable travel. 71% of global travellers thought travel companies should offer more sustainable travel options.
Prince Harry himself has faced criticism over sustainable travel, after claims he flew using private jets four times in 11 days over the summer.
However, he said he did fly commercially for the event in Amsterdam on Tuesday.
The Duke of Sussex was asked, at the launch, on his recent use of private jets in which he responded saying: “I spend 99% of my life travelling the world by commercial.”
He added: “Occasionally there needs to be an opportunity based on a unique circumstance to ensure that my family are safe – it’s generally as simple as that.”
Many have questioned the hypocrisy of the couple over this use of private jets, following their support for environmental causes.
While Prince Harry went on to say he has always used carbon offsetting schemes, whereby money is invested in environmental projects, and he will continue to promote doing so.
“In my mind it’s the right thing to do and we need to make it cool,” he said.