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The Travel Corporation brings TreadRight Foundation into the spotlight

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  •   03-23-2015  9:18 am
The Travel Corporation brings TreadRight Foundation into the spotlight

"Travelling is a privilege. Having access to a place gives us understanding and education, and with that comes with a responsibility.”

These words, spoken by Céline Cousteau, environmentalist, filmmaker and granddaughter of Jacques Yves Cousteau, were at the heart of a presentation and dinner hosted by The Travel Corporation and their non-profit organization, TreadRight Foundation on Mar. 19.

Travel trade partners sat captivated as Cousteau, TreadRight’s official ambassador, shared her views on the many ways in which our industry can change the fate of the world through travel.

“Travel is life changing experience,” she told the assembled, representing airlines, tour operators and agencies alike, “and life changing experiences have a domino effect that leads people to want more meaningful forms of travel.”

TreadRight, a not-for-profit organization established by The Travel Corporation and its family of brands, encourages the sustainable development of tourism through conservation and by supporting projects that benefit the environment, heritage and community.

Although it has been established since 2008 and has more than 35 sustainable tourism projects in 27 countries, the organization has kept quiet about much of its work, working instead to develop a solid foundation of travel partners, experts and community leaders.

“We’ve been focused on doing things the right way,” Jeff Element, president, The Travel Corporation, told PAXnews.com, explaining that the foundation’s efforts up until this point have been about ensuring the integrity of its projects as opposed to gaining public attention.

Now into its seventh year, TreadRight recently became ready to start spreading the word about the importance of sustainable and ethical travel. According to Shannon Guihan, program director for TreadRight, what it needed was someone with a face and a name to carry the message, which is where Cousteau comes in.

                            Céline Cousteau, during a sit-down with PAXnews.com

“We’ve not been brilliant at bringing our message to the consumer. So, we decided we needed somebody who can tell stories,” Guihan said of Cousteau’s role in the organization.

The power of telling stories was central to the message TreadRight and Cousteau delivered at the event, with Cousteau putting an emphasis on the potential effects that social media and storytelling can have on conservation within travel.

“Sharing [experiences] is taking on a much bigger role in travel,” she said in an interview with PAXnews.com.  “It increases sensitivity of travellers to other people, other places, cultures, and other environments. This ability to travel - either vicariously through others via social media, or to do it ourselves – increases the respect that we have for other places.”

In addition to providing an inside look on TreadRight’s past conservation projects, done in collaboration with TravCorp brands such as Contiki, Uniworld, Insight Vacations and Trafalgar (to name a few), Cousteau spoke about two relatively new endeavors: The Treadright Heritage Initiative, and the TreadRight Wildlife Initiative, introduced in 2014.

Along with their new projects, TreadRight Foundation will continue to encourage the importance of responsible tourism and its ability provide meaningful, positive and everlasting experiences to travellers. 

According to Cousteau, such experiences can begin with travel agencies.

“I think the travel industry has a potential for huge influence,” Cousteau told PAXnews.com. “Travel agents and tour operators influence how people choose to travel, what they choose to eat, companies they choose to support. It’s a lot of power. “

 

TreadRight’s initiatives:

The Heritage Initiative looks to support people and communities that rely on small enterprises and other heritage-based work through a series of grants, providing artisans with the funding to grow their small businesses.

The Wildlife Initiative is dedicated to combating the illegal poaching and trafficking of wildlife, in particular the illegal trade surrounding rhino horns, a practice that has seen 95 per cent of the world rhino population decimated within the last four decades.

For more information, visit http://www.treadright.org/

Photo: Nicole McCallum, director of marketing for Trafalgar; Marie Anne MacRae, global VP, strategic partnerships, The Travel Corporation;  Shannon Guihan, program director, TreadRight; Brad Ford, president, Contiki Canada; Celine Cousteau, TreadRight ambassador, Lucille Sive, president, Lion World; Jeff Element, president, The Travel Corporation Canada; Michelle Palma, national accounts manager, Uniworld; and Carla Brake, VP of sales, Insight.

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