Prince Harry watches a trampolining session during his visit to a ‘Fit and Fed’ initiative in London. File / Reuters
Britain’s Prince Harry, who himself has come in for criticism for using private jets, announced a new tourism initiative on Tuesday to transform global travel so it becomes more sustainable.
The “Travalyst” scheme is designed to improve conservation, environmental protection and expand local community economic development to help the travel industry become a force for good, Buckingham Palace said.
It has been backed by Booking.com, Ctrip, Skyscanner, TripAdvisor and Visa.
“Travel has the unparalleled power to open people’s minds to different cultures, new experiences and to have a profound appreciation for what our world has to offer,” said Harry, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson.
“As tourism inevitably grows, it is critically important to accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices worldwide; and to balance this growth with the needs of the environment and the local population.”
Harry, who is launching the initiative in Amsterdam, has faced media accusations of hypocrisy for taking private planes to attend recent engagements while voicing concerns about the environment.
The criticism prompted singer Elton John, who Harry visited with his wife Meghan at his home in the south of France for a vacation last month, to launch a defence of the couple against the “distorted and malicious account in the press.”
“To support Prince Harry’s commitment to the environment, we ensured their flight was carbon neutral, by making the appropriate contribution to Carbon Footprint,” John wrote on Twitter.
“I highly respect and applaud both Harry and Meghan’s commitment to charity and I’m calling on the press to cease these relentless and untrue assassinations on their character that are spuriously crafted on an almost daily basis.”
Last year, there were 1.4 billion international trips and travel and tourism generated $8.8 trillion to the global economy, Buckingham Palace said while consumers were becoming keen to ensure their travel was more sustainable and had less impact on the environment.
A survey of travellers for Booking.com found 71% thought travel companies should offer more sustainable travel choices and 68% said it was important the money they spent went back into local communities.
“Working with companies, consumers and communities, the partnership will initially explore and promote solutions that help drive sustainable practices and consumer choices in areas including; supporting local people, protecting wildlife, tackling climate change and environmental damage, and alleviating over-tourism,” the palace said.
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