NEW YORK -- The eco-minded Prince Harry is embarking on a massive travel sustainability initiative in partnership with key travel providers. They aim to improve the practices of the industry amid an ever-increasing number of travelers.
The Duke of Sussex picked Amsterdam, a city hit hard by over-tourism, to announce Travalyst at a news conference Tuesday with his partners, Booking.com; TripAdvisor; Visa; China's largest travel company, Ctrip; and the Ctrip-owned fare aggregator Skyscanner.
The long-term initiative is focused on tackling the travel industry's impact on climate change, improving wildlife conservation, and protecting the environment in top tourist spots around the world. It aims to increase the amount of tourism dollars that go to local communities, and find answers to over-tourism.
"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," the duke said in a statement shared with The Associated Press ahead of the formal announcement.
"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. Bringing companies, consumers and communities together is our best chance to protect destinations and ecosystems for future generations," he added.
Harry drew criticism this summer when he and his family took a private jet to go on vacation, despite the flight's carbon impact on the planet. They had flown to the home of singer Elton John, who said the aircraft offered them needed privacy and protection, and was carbon-neutral because it was offset by a contribution to Carbon Footprint.
"I spend 99% of my life traveling the world by commercial" aircraft, Harry said Tuesday. He said he would take a private jet only when circumstances called for it, and would offset the carbon footprint.
Among issues the coalition will focus on is improving on-the-ground travel and tourism entrepreneurship in local communities.
Last year, the number of international trips taken globally reached 1.4 billion, a number reached two years faster than originally projected by the United Nations' tourism agency, the World Tourism Organization. According to the World Bank, the number of trips taken annually by people around the globe has more than doubled since 2000.
Gathering service providers into one coalition is a feat unto itself in a competitive industry with piles of profit on the table. Other areas explored will include cleaner aviation fuel, more travel experiences focused on sustainability, and educating tourists on the footprints they make and the waste they leave behind.