From the Aegean Sea to Machu Picchu, Transat demonstrates its commitment to local communities
- Over the past three years, the tour operator has supported 12 projects in 8 countries, representing financial commitments of close to half a million dollars.
- The 2009 crop of projects is of high calibre, and includes a promising collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance to take action in the Maya Riviera region of Mexico.
- Initiatives include protecting coastal marine environments in Turkey, establishing a long-distance hiking trail in Morocco, and developing the coffee, tea and cocoa route in Peru.
Montreal, December 8, 2009
Transat, one of the largest integrated tourism companies in the world and Canada’s holiday travel leader, today announced its support for four new sustainable tourism initiatives in as many of its destination countries, namely Mexico, Peru, Morocco and Turkey. From the Maya Riviera to Machu Picchu, from the Saffron Region to the Aegean Sea, Transat’s financial support program for projects in travel destinations continues to broaden its international reach in favour of more sustainable tourism. Since the program was founded in 2007, Transat has supported 12 projects in 8 countries (the others are Canada, France, Cuba and Tunisia) and committed nearly $475,000 (€300,000).
“With three years of experience, we now realize that the projects being promoted by the organizations and communities that we support are generating benefits that extend far beyond the short-term results they may aim for,” said Lina De Cesare, Chair of Transat’s Sustainable Tourism Executive Committee. “These projects are nurturing a vision of tourism that entails respect for host communities and the environment, which, sooner or later, is bound to positively influence local stakeholders and tourism industry.”
Selected following an international call for projects issued in its 60 destination countries, the four projects chosen by Transat this year aim to enhance the tourism potential of regions and communities from a perspective of sustainability, and/or mitigate some social and environmental impacts of tourism.
Transat will collaborate with the international conservation organization Rainforest Alliance, which, in coordination with the Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative (MARTI)—which itself has the support of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Tour Operators’ Initiative (TOI), of which Transat is a member— will provide a comprehensive training program in sustainable tourism as well as technical support to hotel operators in the Maya Riviera region of Mexico. The program will address both the environmental and social issues specific to responsible hotel operations.
“The project proposed by Rainforest Alliance for the Maya Riviera is perfectly in keeping with the spirit of the awareness-raising efforts we are engaged in with our hotel partners,” Ms. De Cesare added.
Mexico ranks among Transat’s top destination countries and every year, some 250,000 of the tour operator’s customers from Canada and France travel to the Maya Riviera, a major tourist destination.
Transat is supporting a project in Peru put forward by the Canadian organization Carrefour de solidarité internationale, which, in collaboration with local tourism co-op Coclatours, is planning to develop an alternative route to the existing highway from Cusco to Machu Picchu, and giving local communities and tea, coffee and cocoa farmers a stake in its management. Restoration of two 16th-century haciendas, training of farmers in sustainable rural tourism practices, and awareness-raising among tourism industry stakeholders and visitors are part of the plan.
Transat is also backing the Franco-Moroccan association Migrations et Développement, which is implementing a solidarity tourism development project in the region of Taliouine, in southwest Morocco, known as the country’s Saffron Region, in co-operation with village associations. The multi-tiered project calls for creation of a long-distance hiking trail, production of a topographic map and guide, construction of guesthouses, training for guides and families who will host tourists, and creation of an arts & crafts centre for local pottery makers.
Lastly, Transat is joining forces with the Turkish Marine Environment Protection Association (TURMEPA) in the roll-out of a wide-ranging environmental education campaign to raise awareness among key regional tourism players about protection of marine environments near the communities of Göcek and Fethiye, located in one of Turkey’s 14 Specially Protected Areas.
“We are very proud to be working with these organizations, all of which are taking action in the field in favour of more sustainable tourism. Our support, which is both financial and moral, is another way for us to give concrete expression to our willingness to make a difference in our destination countries,” Ms. De Cesare concluded.
The amounts granted to this year’s projects total $145,000 (€91,000) and vary from $30,000 (€19,000) to $50,000 (€35,000), the latter being the maximum amount that can be awarded per project under the program.
In 2007 and 2008, Transat supported sustainable tourism projects in partnership with WWF-Canada in Cuba; the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve Network (Ontario Nature), Seigneurie des Aulnaies, les Amis du marais de Saint-Antoine-de-Tilly and Coopérative l’Échappée Bleue, all in Canada; Association De Navigatio in France; and the Association de développement durable in Médenine, Tunisia. Descriptions of each project are available at www.transat.com/en/social.responsibility.
Transat A.T. Inc. is an integrated international tour operator with more than 60 destination countries and that distributes products in over 50 countries. A holiday travel specialist, Transat operates mainly in Canada and Europe, as well as in the Caribbean, Mexico and the Mediterranean Basin. Montreal-based Transat is also active in air transportation, destination services, accommodation and distribution. (TSX: TRZ.B, TRZ.A)