From off-season travel to taking the train, hear how sustainability specialist Shannon Guihan will be accelerating her already ingrained sustainable travel practices in 2024.
As TTC Chief Sustainability Officer and Head of the TreadRight Foundation, she tell us what will lead the industry agenda next year, what TTC has in store, plus why we’re saying, “no to more stuff.”
“In 2024 I’m going to be building upon the way I would typically travel, and that is that I often look for trips that align with my business travel destinations. I enjoy combining business and leisure with my family and stay either a little bit longer, or quite a lot longer in some of the destinations I have the privilege to visit. This means that we, as a family, are putting less time in the air, and staying for longer.”
Bookmark for later: Insight investigates: Overtourism, and what you can do to help
“Another way that I have always traveled and will continue to do so is to visit destinations in the shoulder season. On top of the financial benefits for most communities, I feel that we also then get a little more truth to the destination.
“I think choosing the off season is going to be the reality for more and more travellers, with many doing it perhaps subconsciously already. The changing climate is resulting in changing seasonal patterns, and guests are starting to respond with their behaviour. Plus, new trends for places like Eastern Canada which are stunning destinations, just less well known.”
Getting on that train
“I am currently based in Europe with my family, so I have the great fortune of having train travel available to me. It’s both a sustainable way to get to your destination, and often a spectacular way to see the sights once you get there.”
Switzerland’s Glacier Express route is one such beautiful journey, through unforgettable scenes of ice-capped mountains, stone-built villages and lush meadows. You can ride a train along part of this route on: Country Roads of Bavaria, Switzerland & Austria
You may also be interested to read: 7 reasons why shoulder season is the best time to visit Switzerland
Mindful about with whom I travel
“It’s always been important for me to be very mindful about with the companies you choose to travel with. I think that’s true of airlines, and it’s certainly true of tour operators. For example, I look at the airline to make sure that they have sustainability commitments, and the appropriate tactics in place, such as investment in new technologies and sustainable aviation fuel and other reduction practices.”
Hear from another sustainability specialist: MAKE TRAVEL MATTER®: Why developing meaningful travel experiences has never been more important.
MAKE TRAVEL MATTER®
“Our MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences are a really wonderful way to identify pre vetted experiences, that we know really benefit a community through either environmental or social justice. I always try to ensure that I can partake in a MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience if I’m fortunate enough to be in an area where we have one (and our family of brands have a great many nowadays). That’s true of both my business trips and when with my family. We’ve proudly seen this industry leading TTC initiative grow and grow across our brands.
Insight Vacations now has a MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience on every one of its tours offering a unique chance to leave a positive impact on the places you visit.
For a taste of what these experiences offer: 5 MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences that will connect you to extraordinary people
What TTC will see happening in 2024
“Moving ahead, you’re going to see us really dive deep into our travel experiences and itineraries,” says sustainability specialist Shannon. “It’s a seamless integration of even greater sustainability performance into the guest experience. You often won’t notice, but you can trust that we are constantly evolving our approach. For example, we’re addressing the challenges of crowding, through greater offers on the shoulder season.”
“This is addition to the gradual reduction of the carbon footprint through investment in our own infrastructure and assets and technology, all the while (and this is really important) not passing that cost on to our guests.”
“This time last year, Insight Vacations and our sister brands at The Travel Corporation announced a reset of our Climate Action Plan and a commitment to reach net zero GHG emissions across the value chain by 2050. So, in 2024 we will be continuing our journey towards that goal.”
You can read all about it: Measure, Reduce, Restore and Evolve: Our journey to hitting Net Zero by 2050
The big industry trend for 2024 – Investment in carbon reduction
“Investments into carbon reductions is going to be the big trend across the board in 2024, there are more and more technological solutions coming online and investments are needed so that these solutions scale,” Shannon says.
“Some ways we have invested to date include ensuring that at our offices we are nearly at capacity in our ability to produce renewable energy. Looking ahead to next year we are heavily focused on our Scope 3 emissions, these are those produced by our partners and suppliers.
“There are several ways we can reduce our scope 3 footprint, such as by favoring electric and or biofuels, and by changing our routes such that we are on the road a little bit less and staying in places a little bit more. We can also greatly reduce these emissions by saying ‘no to more stuff’.”
Our continued journey to Net Zero by 2050 – saying “no to more stuff”
“From today (7 December), we will no longer buy branded merchandise as gifts for guests, our trade partners or internal team members and instead, will be making donations to nature-based solutions,” Gemma Myhill, Sustainability Officer for Insight Vacations explains. “Current stocks will be donated where possible and used up across our business throughout 2024 so as not to overwhelm charities or end up in landfill.
“Aligned with our commitment to achieving Net Zero GHG emissions by 2050, we realized that there’s 2500 tonnes of emissions that go into the branded merchandise that we give away every year. Which equates to 6.5 million car-driven miles worth of carbon emissions.
“Then we asked ourselves, do people really need more stuff? And the answer is no. We could actually remove these emissions completely from our ecosystem, no longer buy branded merchandise and instead donate the money we would have used to nature-based solutions.”
“The nature-based solution projects we have chosen to support are Project GreenWave’s Kelp Climate Fund and Rainforest Rescue’s Daintree Project,” Gemma tells us. “Both existing partners of our not-for-profit foundation, TreadRight, the ability to leverage these strong relationships is a testament to how much sustainability is engrained in our core.”
GreenWave trains and supports ocean farmers in the era of climate change. Donations will be made to their Kelp Climate Fund which enables Kelp farmers to play a climate-positive role with their ocean farms, including carbon and nitrogen removal and habitat restoration. Each donation will fund the planting of 40lbs of kelp, which will help capture carbon and restore marine ecosystems.
Each donation to Rainforest Rescue restores 1 square metre of Australia’s Daintree Rainforest, and will preserve biodiversity and remove carbon from the atmosphere through planting, maintenance and restoration programs.
Rainforest Rescue’s partnership with Traditional Owners, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji, is helping to broaden and deepen our understanding of the rainforest, and the plants and animals that make the Daintree, or Julaymba, so remarkable and worthy of our protection. This is the world’s longest continually evolving rainforest, protecting the Daintree provides ecosystem services which helps to support the Great Barrier Reef – the rainforest and the reef provide rain and clean water that is good for everyone. Rainforest Protection and Restoration is good Climate Action.