AMSTERDAM—Green Destinations, organizer of the annual Sustainable Top 100 Destination Awards, bookdifferent.com, the leading platform for sustainable accommodations, and Fair Voyage, an innovative sustainable tour operator platform, have launched the Good Travel Alliance to increase visibility for sustainable destinations and make sustainable travel easier for consumers. As purpose-driven organizations, each with a fundamental sustainability mission, the three founding partners of the Good Travel Alliance share the principles of independent third party checks and science-based research to verify sustainability, stay clear of conflicts of interest and provide trustworthy choices for consumers. By using technology as a force for good, connecting databases and collaborating on awareness building, the Good Travel Alliance strives to make sustainable travel easy by providing transparent, online bookable sustainable travel choices for consumers.
Sustainable travel remains a niche in the tourism industry. Travelers are demanding more sustainable travel choices, destinations all around the world want to become more sustainable, accommodations want to go green and local travel service providers want to operate more sustainable travel experiences. Yet, consumers struggle to identify truly sustainable choices amongst a proliferation of labels and CSR messages, destinations struggle to find the balance between financial and socio-environmental sustainability, and responsible local travel service providers struggle to compete against lower-priced offers that are equally branded “sustainable”.
To solve this paradox, three purpose-driven organizations have taken the lead to establish sustainable travel role models—Green Destinations for destinations, bookdifferent.com for accommodations, and Fair Voyage for tour packages. To strengthen their collaboration on information sharing and awareness building, the three travel impact organizations have now formalized their partnership and launched the Good Travel Alliance. The partners announced their alliance on March 4 in Berlin.
“We were looking forward to providing a stage for this announcement as part of our dedicated sustainability track at ITB this year,” comments Rika Jean-François, CSR Commissioner of ITB Berlin. “Only by collaborating radically, we can make sustainability a reality, and the representatives of the Good Travel Alliance are leading by example. I look forward to much progress being reported at ITB 2021.”
The partnership is based on three principles. By only promoting third party checked destinations, accommodations and tour operators as sustainable, the Good Travel Alliance partners want to solve the greenwashing paradox and offer reliable sustainable travel information and choices to consumers. By aggregating bookable sustainable choices and making sustainability standards transparent, the partners want to make sustainable travel easy for consumers. And by promoting sustainable destinations, the Good Travel Alliance strives to drive sustainable revenues to local communities and help travelers experience authentic culture and biodiversity whilst making a real difference for people and the planet.
Good Travel Guide: Promoting Sustainable Destinations
Green Destinations is a leading sustainability certification for destinations and one of currently only three bodies accredited by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), testifying its rigorous and holistic sustainability checks verified through independent on-site audits. Green Destinations is also the organizer of the annual Sustainable Top 100 Destination Awards at ITB to recognize the world’s leading cultural, environmental and community-based tourism initiatives.
“This year we have started to develop the Good Travel Guide to increase visibility of sustainable destinations and their sustainable travel offer,” says Founder Albert Salman. “With this Guide, we want to inform travelers about sustainable travel choices and help them plan and book a sustainable vacation. Destinations will only be truly sustainable when this will be possible, so the alliance will try to make this work together with destinations and tourism boards.”
Helping Travelers Book Sustainable Accommodations
bookdifferent.com is a hotel booking site and a social enterprise that makes it easy for travelers to book sustainable accommodations, having aggregated the world’s largest database of eco-certified accommodations. When booking a hotel through bookdifferent.com, travelers can rest assured they are choosing the greenest option available and that their accommodation is taking the right steps towards a responsible development. By only collaborating with ecolabels that comply with three rigorous criteria, the company helps shed light on the greenwashing mystery, striving for transparency in the tourism sector.
“It is important that we share information transparently and collaborate on awareness building,” emphasizes Founder Lonneke de Kort. “Tracking and making sense of the sustainability data jungle requires an integrated initiative across the sustainable travel ecosystem. By connecting our databases, we can accelerate our impact.”
Helping Travelers Book Sustainable Experiences with Locals
Fair Voyage is a social enterprise that exclusively promotes independently verified sustainable tour operators on its platform. Travelers can compare, customize and book fair multi-day trips directly with local destination experts. The company uses strict sustainability criteria in assessing whether tour operators can promote their offers via Fair Voyage.
“Sustainable tourism can be a force for good,” believes Founder Alexandra Pastollnigg. “I’m particularly excited about the potential of ecotourism as a sustainable funding source for biodiversity restoration and positive climate action, and developing such sustainable travel offers in collaboration with our new alliance partners.”
Collaborating Openly & Reporting Progress Regularly
Green Destinations, bookdifferent.com and Fair Voyage believe in the importance of radical cross-channel collaboration for sustainability. The Good Travel Alliance does not see itself as competing but complementary to other sustainable travel initiatives and remains open for new alliance partners to join forces. The founding partners plan to announce more details in the coming weeks and share regular progress reporting throughout the year.