“START WHERE YOU ARE”

Virtuoso Sustainability Summit 2018

According to Virtuoso, when it comes to sustainability, there is a common language among all in the industry: “Keep it simple and make sure the consumers ‘get it’.” This is done by supporting the culture, the local economy, and protecting the planet.

THE WAY IN WHICH WE CAN GET OUR TRAVELLERS AND OUR GUESTS AND OUR CLIENTS TO START AND REALLY THINK ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY IS FOR THEM TO START WHERE THEY ARE…

In 2017, key business owners, travel advisors and global influencers came together at the first Virtuoso Sustainability Summit – a think tank launched to coincide with the UNWTO Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

The idea of the summits was spawned ten years ago, when National Geographic Sustainability expert Costas Christ and Jessica Hall Upchurch, now Virtuoso’s Sustainability Ambassador discussed carbon offsetting and recycling, and the conversation led to a broader topic of sustainability. According to Christ, “In 1950, it was the first year they kept track of international tourist arrivals. There were 25-million people who took an ‘international holiday’ in 1950. Fast forward to 2017 – 1.2 billion. By 2030, we are probably going to hit either just below two billion international travellers, or we are going to hit it. All of us know that travel can be a force for good. We also know that unplanned and unmanaged, it can be a destructive force. It can harm communities, it can endanger habitat and wildlife. So, at the heart of Virtuoso’s strategy to advance sustainable tourism, is to harness this ‘thing’, which is a little bit of a beast … harness it and make it a force for good. Ensure that travel delivers on its promise to make the world a better place.”

This year, Ms Upchurch says Virtuoso is starting with a very simple message: ‘start where you are’: “We feel at Virtuoso that the way in which we can get our travellers and our guests and our clients to start and really think about sustainability is for them to start where they are… To start with very simple, basic ideas that can turn into something that is transformational. Some are starting very simply by turning the lights off and reusing towels. Others are far beyond that – they are into education and engaging in cultures, waste reduction, energy management and production, recycling… there are so many different ways. But the key is to just start where you are. That helps build the future of the travel industry and what we can do together.”

This year’s Virtuoso sustainability goals are: to make sustainability a greater factor in consumer choice, make it easier to do good, and to cultivate more passionate sustainability stewards through their advisor network.


Photo:  The Upchurch family at Vermejo Ranch with Rutherford Seydel and Laura Turner Seydel.