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U.S. Travel Establishes New Sustainability Coalition

By Kathy Gibbons

The future of the travel industry depends on becoming increasingly more sustainable. 

That’s according to Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president, public affairs and policy, for the U.S. Travel Association.

“The industry’s existence depends on it and a whole-of-industry approach will be required to enable travelers to move through the travel ecosystem in a climate-conscious way,” Barnes says.

It’s with that imperative in mind that the association recently announced the launch of its new Sustainable Travel Coalition. Its purpose is to align the travel, transportation, and technology sectors in developing and advancing strategies to enable a more sustainable future for the U.S. travel industry.

“The Sustainable Travel Coalition will serve as an advisory body to inform U.S. Travel and the travel industry on sustainability issues, opportunities, and concerns within member organizations and destinations,” Barnes explains. 

A dedicated Policy Committee will help drive the broader coalition’s efforts to enable progress and collaboration. Nearly 60 member organizations initially signed on to participate, and members will meet in person and/or virtually three times a year. 

“Membership includes representatives of the expansive travel industry of all sizes—from airlines and hotels to airports, attractions, and destinations across the country,” Barnes says.

The group’s long-term goals include:

– Spotlighting industry progress by showcasing innovative technologies and calling attention to actions and leadership of travel professionals when it comes to sustainability efforts

– Amplifying industry goals and commitments to conservation, best practices, waste and emission reductions, and long- and short-term investments

– Highlighting why sustainability matters and its importance as a core to the future of the travel industry

– Identifying and promoting proactive policies to help the industry achieve its goals

– Defending against policies that would slow progress toward sustainability goals or penalize the industry without progress

Barnes says several coalition goals are already being implemented in the legislative process. Among them: a tax credit for the production and use of sustainable aviation fuels; an enhanced tax credit to increase availability of electric vehicle charging stations; an enhanced tax deduction to increase energy efficiency upgrades in commercial buildings; federal investments to protect and restore natural attractions including recreational waterways, shorelines, and national parks; and other clean energy incentives.

“When it comes to the issue of sustainability, the travel industry is reaching a critical inflection point—one that will have a lasting impact on the decades ahead,” Barnes says. “As organizations across global industries prioritize lessening their environmental impact, travel not only articulates the hard work our industry has committed to do, but we must be a leader.”