IPWD23 Header Sustainability

Moving Toward a Greener Future

By: Mark Chesnut, Contributing Writer

The U.S. Travel Association spearheads a powerful sustainability initiative

Travelers are more concerned than ever about sustainable travel, and suppliers are making impressive progress toward more responsible tourism. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Journey to Clean, an initiative by the U.S. Travel Association that champions industry actions and unites industry leaders to advance sustainability-focused strategies.

This effort ties in perfectlySTC Logo with U.S. Travel’s Sustainable Travel Coalition, which launched last year and now has more than 70 members. Journey to Clean aims to promote end-to-end sustainability by taking a “whole-of-industry” approach, addressing challenges and opportunities in every part of the travel and tourism industry — including booking, traveling, hotels and resorts, destinations, attractions, meetings and events.

Member organizations, meanwhile, have made great strides to further the goal of environmentally friendly travel. A few examples:

Planning and Booking
  • American Express is providing $10 million to partners and programs that target climate change and pollution from 2021 through 2025. The company has also maintained carbon neutral operations powered by 100% renewable electricity since 2018.  
Traveling: Airlines
  • American Airlines has joined other carriers to commit to net-zero carbon emissions by 2025. The airline used over two million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel in 2022.
Traveling: Airports
  • Los Angeles World Airports has created a Boldly Moving Toward Zero sustainability action plan, which has three major goals by 2045: to use zero potable water for non-potable demands, to use 100% renewable energy and to achieve zero carbon emissions from operations.
Traveling: Trains, Rental Cars and Cruises
  • Amtrak has set a goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045, with an interim target to reduce emissions 40% by 2030. 
  • The Hertz Corporation maintains a diverse fleet of electric vehicles at a range of price points and has added charging capacity to its locations. In addition, the company is supporting new public charging infrastructure through partnerships with energy companies.
  • Carnival Corporation’s Holland America Cruise Line is the first cruise line certified sustainable for Alaska seafood by Responsible Fisheries Management. The company has also reduced single-use plastic items by 50% and reduced food waste by 24% per person.
Lodging and Resorts
  • Hilton Hotels & Resorts has set a goal to cut waste, including food waste, 50% by 2030 and to reduce water use intensity 50% by 2030. In addition, the company is implementing 20 context-based water stewardship pilots in areas of top water risk. 
  • New Orleans & Company, the city’s tourism organization, initiated the Love Your City Initiative to engage the community with sustainability initiatives, including the Zero Waste challenge, which promotes recycling, composting and eliminating plastics across local businesses. 
Meetings and Events
  • Disney Parks & Resorts is working to achieve zero waste to landfill for its wholly owned and operated parks, resorts and cruise line by 2030. An impressive 58% of the company’s total operational waste was diverted from landfill and incineration in fiscal 2022.

IPW 2023 host city San Antonio is a great example of how destinations and event facilities can make a difference when it comes to sustainability. The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center works with the city of San Antonio on a variety of initiatives to strengthen its commitment to sustainable practices. Through CPS Energy, for example, the city offers event planners the option to purchase renewable energy. The city’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, meanwhile, aims to reduce carbon emissions by 100% by 2050.

76% of executives want to increase sustainable corporate travel choices, even if it costs more, according to the U.S. Travel Association.