Sustainable tourism entails respect for nature, as well as for host communities and their values; it combines positive socio-economic benefits for local populations with an enriching experience for travellers.
Every year, hundreds of millions of travellers visit foreign countries. Consequently, even the most modest gestures are important, because the multiplier effect is enormous. We should be aware that water and energy, abundant and inexpensive in developed countries, are often rare and costly in other countries. Small gestures aimed at saving resources and limiting waste, for example, are a good start. But there are more than environmental issues at stake. Visiting heritage sites, and taking an interest in local customs, handicrafts and cuisine, are also part of becoming a responsible tourist.
To find out more, consult our Responsible tourist, sustainable tourism section.
Sustainable tourism isn’t a product, but rather an approach that seeks to maximize the benefits of tourism in local communities and limit negative outcomes. For Transat, this means implementing an ongoing improvement program which involves adopting best practices in sustainable tourism.
Yes, since the principles of sustainable tourism, based on three key pillars — the environment, communities and local culture, and the economy — are applicable to all forms of tourism (including mass tourism), and all destinations.
It was defined at the First World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children as follows: “The commercial sexual exploitation of children is a fundamental violation of children’s rights. It comprises sexual abuse by the adult and remuneration in cash or kind to the child or a third person or persons. The child is treated as a sexual object and as a commercial object. The commercial sexual exploitation of children constitutes a form of coercion and violence against children, and amounts to forced labour and a contemporary form of slavery.”
Unfortunately, the sexual exploitation of minors is not as marginal a practice as commonly believed. It exists at almost all destinations, but the problem is most acute in developing countries. According to some estimates, approximately 10% of tourists travel in part for sex, and between 40 and 50% of individuals sexually exploited for commercial purposes are children. The first thing to do is to be aware of the problem and to talk about it, in order to sustain efforts to eradicate it.
The sexual exploitation of children is obviously illegal, and a number of governments now have extraterritorial laws allowing legal action to be taken against abusers for acts committed in foreign countries. Transat has informed its employees, customers and partners of the fight against the sexual exploitation of children.
To find out more, visit our Fighting the sexual exploitation of children section.
Emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), especially CO2, are a factor in climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has estimated that aviation is responsible for approximately 2% of global CO2 emissions. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), meanwhile, stated in the 2007 Davos Declaration that, overall, tourism may account for 5% of emissions. And experts now seem to accept that emissions related to air transport, because they occur at high altitudes, have a more severe impact than that which would normally correspond to their relative mass of 2%.
In the travel industry, particularly when it comes to medium- and long-distance travel, there are no real alternatives to air transport. Tourism is one of the most important industries in the world, and it depends in large measure on air transport—as do more than 200 million jobs around the globe. For many countries, a drop in the influx of tourists would be a recipe for economic disaster. In fact, if tourism were a country, it would have the second-largest economy in the world, behind that of the United States.
It is also important to understand that the primary sources of GHGs have nothing to do with the travel industry. Deforestation alone (which often results from the pressures of agricultural development) is responsible for 24% of GHG emissions, according to the Rainforest Alliance, which also maintains that agriculture is the main threat to biodiversity, ahead of global warming.
Production of fossil fuels—let alone their use—is an enormous source of GHGs. And, of course, ground transport, including automobiles, is responsible for a huge proportion of GHGs. The difference is that in these areas, there are alternatives, as well as effective measures to combat the problem.
Many travel companies, through their websites, make it possible for travellers to purchase carbon credits, which in principle allow them to “eliminate” the GHGs emitted as a result of their trips, through investments in a variety of projects. This kind of measure can be effective provided that two main conditions are met:
Currently, some countries around the world tax airline passengers in the name of environmental protection. One such country is the United Kingdom, which charges fees of £80 and £40 (depending on seat class) to all visitors. Unfortunately, the money collected is generally not reinvested in environmental programs; it simply goes to general government funds. We find this situation deplorable; among other things, it can potentially render travellers’ carbon credit purchases redundant.
In addition, as of 2012, air carriers serving EU countries will be required to purchase quotas corresponding to their GHG emissions, under the European Emissions Trading Scheme. The cost of these purchases, which will become just one more operating expense for airlines, will eventually be passed on to passengers, making any personal purchase of carbon credits illogical.
In this context, Transat believes that we should all place priority on reducing GHG emissions. We therefore promote a number of measures, including the following:
To sum up, the issue of GHGs is a complex one. Everybody can do their part to reduce their contribution to global warming, first of all by making sure that all of their energy consumption is justified. And travellers who wish to offset their GHG emissions can do so by dealing with credible organizations that promote effective projects.
Yes. Transat has set up a community support program that allows it to fund projects, in its 60 travel destinations, aimed at protecting and enhancing natural and cultural heritage; helping communities benefit economically from tourism; and softening the environmental impact of tourism.
To find out more about the projects we support, consult our Community support section.
To find out how the program works, consult the Sustainable tourism program of the Our philanthropy policy section.
The following are just some of the many interesting sites on the topic:
World Tourism Organization
Tour Operators Initiative
United Nations Environment Programme
Global Code of Ethics for Tourism