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USTOA Advocates Path Toward Greater Sustainability and Responsibility in Travel

Published Nov 30, 2022 12:00AM


USTOA ADVOCATES PATH TOWARD GREATER  
SUSTAINABILITY AND RESPONSIBILITY IN TRAVEL  
 
Survey Reveals that Two Thirds of Active Members are Confident 
 in Actions Taken to Address Sustainability Issues 

 

NEW YORK (November 30, 2022) – An economic impact study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) found that two thirds (63%) of the tour operator members of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) are confident that their organization is taking sufficient actions to address sustainability issues to remain competitive in the industry.    

According to the study, more than half (53%) of USTOA Active Members have a formal, documented sustainability strategy.  Roughly three-quarters of tour operator members stated that their “corporate values and culture” (77%) and “responding positively to global crises” (71%) were the main factors driving adoption of sustainability strategy.  

“Historically, USTOA has commissioned PwC to measure our industry’s economic impact as a critical tool in our government advocacy efforts,” said Terry Dale, president & CEO of USTOA.  “This year, as we close out USTOA’s 50th anniversary, it was equally important for the survey to address the areas of sustainability, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion, which are key pillars in USTOA’s strategic direction for the next 50 years.  There is incredible value in learning where our members are in their journey to better support them.” 

When asked what areas of sustainability their organization is planning to focus on most over the next 12 months, close to two thirds (61%) of Active Members reported aligning sustainability goals with supply chain and partners. Similarly, 61% of operator members said itinerary planning to support local communities will be a priority.  More than half (53%) of Active Members plan to focus on reducing/offsetting carbon emissions.  

DEI Policies 

Three fourths of Active Members report that their organization has policies covering gender and race and ethnicity, while more than two thirds (69%) have LGBTQ+ policies in place. More than half of USTOA operator companies have policies relating to age (57%), faith (55%) and seen or unseen disabilities (55%).  Roughly one third of Active Members report that their organization has internal, mostly employee-led networks and groups dedicated to gender (31%), race and ethnicity (29%) and LGBTQ+ (31%) groups.   

USTOA also asked its tour operator members to report the areas in which their organization have made commitments:    

  • Close to two thirds (61%) have made gender equality commitments 
  • More than half (55%) have made demographic diversity commitments.   
  • Active Members who have made carbon-neutral commitments is 18%, while 16% have made commitments to ESG reporting and independently audited and 12% of operators have made net-zero commitments.  

“Our member commitment to DEI principles is encouraging,” said Dale. “As part of larger ESG (environment, social, and governance) policy, there is room for growth and USTOA is dedicated to helping our members learn how to make change in the coming years.” 

50 Years Forward 

This year USTOA celebrated its 50th anniversary by making a “50 Years Forward” commitment to advocate for and proactively guide travelers, members, and industry colleagues on a path toward greater sustainability and responsibility.  

USTOA partnered with Innovation Norway to launch its first Sustainability is Responsibility (SIR) summit in Bodø, Norway, in May of 2022. Delegates came together to share innovative approaches and best practices and to plant the seeds for future, mutually beneficial collaborations. SIR 2.0 will take place as part of the Tourism Cares Meaningful Travel Summit in Norway from April 19-22, 2023.   

In July, USTOA announced its first USTOA Future Lights of the Tour Industry recipients, up-and-coming leaders who are being recognized as champions of sustainability and DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) initiatives within their companies. 

Looking ahead to 2023, Dale announced that USTOA is actively hiring a Global Social Impact Manager to support the development and implementation of USTOA’s corporate social responsibility and DEI.  The position is projected to start in January 2023.  In addition, USTOA is creating a sustainability community, a member-based, peer-led sustainability committee in collaboration with Tourism Cares.  

The PwC research was released at USTOA’s Annual Conference & Marketplace, held at the JW Marriott Austin in Austin, TX from November 28-December 2, 2022.  The survey was conducted between August 18 and October 3, 2022, with a 92% participation rate. 

For more information on USTOA, visit www.ustoa.com.   

About USTOA:   

Representing $16 billion in revenue, the member companies of U.S. Tour Operators Association provide tours, packages and custom arrangements that allow six million travelers annually unparalleled access, insider knowledge, peace-of-mind, value, and freedom to enjoy destinations and experiences across the entire globe. Each member company has met the travel industry’s highest standards, including participation in the USTOA’s Travelers Assistance Program, which protects consumer payments up to $1 million if the company goes out of business.  As a voice for the tour operator industry for 50 years, USTOA also provides education and assistance for consumers and travel agents. 

 

Contact: 

Gina Dolecki/Alice Phillips  

Redpoint 

212-229-0119 

dolecki@redpointmarketingpr.com /phillips@redpointmarketingpr.com     

 

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