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The U.S. Travel Association today announced the creation of a new Sustainable Travel Coalition, which is designed to align the travel, transportation and technology sectors in developing and advancing strategies for a more sustainable future for the U.S. travel industry.
Nearly 60 industry leaders have joined the coalition thus far, including executives from convention and visitor bureaus, hotels, airports, industry associations and more. The long list of members includes:
- Julie Coker, president and CEO, San Diego Tourism
- Brad Dean, CEO, Discover Puerto Rico
- Mike Dominguez, president and CEO, Associated Luxury Hotels International
- Marina Elsener, director, sustainability, Accor
- Jean Hand, vice president, global ESG, Hilton
- Carrie Johnson, program manager, PCMA
- Cherie Wilson, vice president, government affairs — sustainability, Delta Air Lines
- Brian Beall, vice president, government affairs, Cruise Lines International Association
- Erin Cooke, director of sustainability, San Francisco International Airport
The members will serve as an advisory board that informs U.S. Travel on sustainability issues and opportunities. A dedicated policy committee will also be created to focus on driving the coalition's broader goals and policy change.
The full coalition will meet virtually three times per year, while the policy committee will host bi-monthly virtual meetings, as well as an in-person gathering once per year. This year's face-to-face meeting will coincide with U.S. Travel's Future of Travel Mobility Conference, which will be held in Washington, D.C., on September 20.
"Seeing the world and saving the world should not be mutually exclusive," said Tori Emerson Barnes, U.S. Travel's executive vice president of public affairs and policy. "As technology advances and consumers demand more sustainable travel options, the work of this coalition will ensure that the U.S. travel industry can meet the needs of an evolving market while also protecting our planet's natural resources."
Long-term goals of the Sustainable Travel Coalition include:
- Spotlighting industry progress by showcasing innovative technologies and calling attention to the ongoing actions and leadership of travel professionals in the sustainability space;
- Amplifying industry goals and commitments to conservation, best practices, waste and emission reductions and both long- and short-term investments;
- Highlighting why sustainability matters and the importance of it as a core to the travel industry's future;
- Identifying and promoting proactive policies that help the industry achieve its goals; and
- Defending against harmful policies that slow progress toward sustainability goals or penalize the industry.
Calling for Congressional Action
On July 25, the Sustainable Travel Association issued a letter to Congress, urging the government to take action on a number of initiatives that protect environmental resources and promote more eco-friendly travel options. More than 100 industry organizations co-signed the letter, which pushes for new tax incentives and more energy efficiency infrastructure.
"Travel businesses and organizations of all sizes — from airlines and hotels to airports and attractions — are already taking steps to reduce waste, lower emissions, protect natural environments and switch to more sustainable sourcing. However, to accelerate and enable greater investment in this area, we need greater support at the federal level," reads the letter.
Specifically, the co-signers pressed Congress to take action on the following initiatives:
- A tax credit for the production and use of sustainable aviation fuel, such as those proposed in the
Sustainable Skies Act (H.R. 3440/S. 2263);
- An enhanced tax credit to increase the availability of electric vehicle charging stations;
- An enhanced tax deduction to increase energy efficiency upgrades to commercial buildings;
- Federal investments to protect and restore natural attractions, including recreational waterways, shorelines
and national parks; and
- Other clean-energy incentives for investment in renewable energy deployment, green hydrogen, carbon
capture and storage, direct air capture and other innovative technologies to lower the carbon intensity of
transportation fuels and the power grid.