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Starting a Travel Business with a Conscience

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Starting your own travel business with The Holiday Franchise Company is full of wonderful benefits. You can be your own boss; have limitless earning opportunities; and discover the world with brilliant trade only prices. But what about making a difference and giving something back?

From my first time stepping foot overseas on a beach break to Spain as a child, to backpacking across Kazakhstan in my thirties, I am continually captivated by the amazing and varied landscapes, wildlife, history, culture, and people of our planet. The more I see, the more I am driven to explore further.

In recent years however, I have become increasingly concerned about the negative footprint my travels are leaving. Pre-lockdown tourism accounted for a staggering 8% of all global carbon emissions making it a significant contributor to climate change. I am not alone in this concern with 83% of global travellers citing sustainable travel as ‘vital’ and with 69% committed to reducing their carbon footprint.

Sometimes of course, travel and the revenue it generates can bring about positive change too. Tourist profits have provided incentive for governments to focus on conservation, such as the case in India. The introduction of better managed safari tourism has played a huge role in pulling tigers back from the brink of extinction. Where once the greatest gains would be from poaching, local people now find better and sustainable income from international travellers coming to view these majestic animals in the wild.

Large travel companies are starting to take stock and in 2021 Booking.com listed sustainability as an ‘absolute business priority’. Booking.com, Skyscanner and Tripadvisor along with several other large OTAs – with backing of Prince Harry – recently launched Travlyst, a global initiative to reduce the negative environmental impacts of travel. International brands such as Marriott and Hilton are pledging to cut plastic waste and sustainability-focused hotel chains – such as Six Senses – are thriving. 

So how can you make your travel business more sustainable and kinder to the planet we all love to explore so much?  For a start, why not include one of these incredible properties in your client itineraries?

  • Nihi Sumba, Indonesia

Its previous guestlist includes a plethora of high-profile celebrities and, undeniably luxurious, it is easy to see why Nihi Sumba won the accolade of ‘World’s Best Hotel’ two years running. It is how this property gives back to the island of Sumba however that makes it so special.

Nihi Sumba’s founder, Chris Burch, also created the non-profit Sumba Foundation, to which a proportion of all the hotel’s profits are donated. The charity’s visitor centre operates an after-school club for local children where they are taught the importance of sustainability alongside skills to improve their prospects. Hotel guests are invited to visit during their stay to assist in English classes and learn about the charity’s work. The foundation also opened a medical clinic to support remote Sumbanese villages and is responsible for irradicating malaria almost completely on the island. Nihi Sumba’s success story is heartening proof that a single hotel and its guests can make a huge impact.

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  • Wa Ale Resort, Myanmar

The stunning Wa Ale Resort in the remote Southern archipelago of Myanmar sustains and protects the beautiful Lampi Marine National Park – in the heart of which the property is located – as well as transforming the lives of the surrounding communities. 

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  • Soneva Fushi, Maldives

Soneva Fushi in the Maldives recycles 90% of its waste in its on-site Eco Centre recycling plant. It is the first hotel in the Maldives to do this, with the resort also assisting neighbouring islands in reducing their plastic consumption too.

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  • Fogo Island Inn, Canada

It is not just beach resorts that are making waves. The unique and amazing Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland, Canada is community focused with 100% of the operating surpluses reinvested to help local people prosper.  

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  • Six Senses Con Dao, Vietnam

Hotels can also do wonders in protecting endangered species.  The brilliant Six Senses Con Dao in Vietnam has hatched over 7,800 critically endangered turtles with its own ‘Let’s Get Cracking’ incubation centre.

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  • Mashipi Lodge, Ecuador

Not just a luxury lodge, Mashipi is also a research station that plays a vial role in the protection of the rainforest. They have an incredibly impressive conservation and research program. Through their work they’ve even discovered completely new species – unknown to science, and which are found nowhere else on earth!

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  • The Brando, French Polynesia

Marlon Brando’s private island, luxury retreat is also home to one of the world’s most innovate air conditioning systems, which is powered by cool sea water sourced from the nearby depths. This has drastically reduced energy demands. In addition to these all-building materials are local or certified origin, renewable, or recycled. They have also created an eco-station to help improve sustainability and protect the environment on the Tetiaroa atoll.

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  • Bisate Lodge, Rwanda

This wonderful lodge is a luxurious hideaway perfect to see Great Apes in the wild.  Guests who travel here are treated as Philanthropists rather than tourists and the lodge has a number of highly impressive sustainability initiatives which include Great ape research, reforesting 103 acres of land and an active involvement in improving the local community

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Another idea is using the trips we book for our clients to support sustainable causes. Alicia, who runs Luxeco Holidays, was an early sustainability trailblazer in our network.  She offers top tips for being an ethical traveller, advice on carbon offsetting flights and has launched her very own initiative, The Purple Envelope Fund:

If I am fortunate enough to book someone’s holiday, I wanted to give something back and, little-by-little, help others. The money doesn’t come out of the client’s pockets, but they are welcome to contribute if they like. I chose 3 causes that are important to me, and clients can choose which one they would like their trip donation to go to.

Luxeco Holidays Logo Testimonial

As a business, I feel we have a responsibility to encourage others to travel with a conscience and lead by example when it comes to kind actions. During my travels, I have come across people that live so humbly, yet are so generous, happy, and kind. They would give you the shirt off their back without a second thought. I think the world needs more of that. 

Many of our other franchisees are keen to do more, something The Holiday Franchise Company 100% encourages and supports.  This month we have partnered with two leading non-profit organisations who will help us and our franchisee team to meet our sustainability targets.

Firstly, The Travel Foundation is a leading charity that works in partnership with businesses and governments to ensure tourism brings greater benefits for local people and the environment. 

The Travel Foundation Logo

Our second partnership is with Trees4Travel. This is a brilliant initiative where travellers and agents can carbon offset flights by planting trees. All you need to do is enter the details of your flight and their amazing widget tells you the number of trees needed. Click, donate, and they are planted!

Trees for Travel Graphic

We firmly believe these initiatives are a fantastic step for The Holiday Franchise Company and our franchisees in becoming more sustainable. This is just the start however, and we are committed to developing an ever more sustainable approach to travel.

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