No one can deny that we are living in a world where our precious natural resources are being slowly eliminated. Many of these resources are indeed the lifeblood of our industry—the Amazon and other rain forests, the majestic glaciers of Alaska, the snow capped peaks of Mt. Kilimanjaro and the dying Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. As travel professionals, we need to be good stewards of the environment and we need to pass our stewardship along to our clients.
What is the real cost of an airline ticket? Certainly the base fare, taxes, security fees and fuel surcharges will show up on their credit card statement. But what about the cost to the environment? Is there a hidden cost to travel? What is the cost of the energy expenditure necessary to fuel an airplane, heat a hotel or power a cruise ship?
Companies like NativeEnergy are providing consumers, and more recently travel agencies and tour operators, with a way of “offsetting” the environmental costs of doing business. Richard Edwards, a partner in NativeEnergy who, along with his partner Megan Epler Wood, the founder of The International Ecotourism Society, are directing the company’s outreach to the travel industry, and Edwards says that travel agencies have a very important role in influencing client decisions about travel and the environment.
Edwards knows travel: he has been recognized by Condé Nast Traveler as one of their Top Travel Specialists for sustainable tourism in Central America through his adventure travel company, GreenSpot. NativeEnergy provided the carbon offsets associated with the landmark climate crisis documentary An Inconvenient Truth (book and movie). Dozens of companies have now lined up behind NativeEnergy, a premier player in the carbon offset and travel field. A list of affiliates includes Ben and Jerry’s, Cliff Bars, Aveda, Backroads, O.A.R.S. and others. NativeEnergy uses carbon offsets to help build wind energy projects on Native American and Native Alaskan land and family farmer-owned renewable energy projects, a method of mutual benefit for the environment and local people.
So where does the travel agency fit into the picture? NativeEnergy is now providing agencies with the ability to work as an affiliate to offer travelers the option of offsetting the cost of their business and leisure travel. Using an online calculator provided by NativeEnergy, your clients can calculate their “energy footprint” and donate a small percentage of the cost of their travel to a NativeEnergy project. Partnering with NativeEnergy shows your clients that you are taking a leadership role in the effort to slow global warming and preserve the environment that sustains us all.
Agencies interested in learning more about NativeEnergy and their travel agency partnership program should contact Richard Edwards by email at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the company’s website at www.NativeEnergy.com/TravelOffsets.