TORONTO — The Travel Corporation’s brands are celebrating 10 years of The TreadRight Foundation, the not-for-profit organization that has invested $6 million supporting over 50 projects in 24 countries, and counting.
The Foundation brings its vision of sustainability to life through the support of people, wildlife and how important it is to ‘tread light and tread right’, says Brett Tollman, TTC’s Chief Executive Office and Eco Warrior.
“We are not simply united as a family of brands, we are also united by our shared drive to help make the world a better place. It’s a philosophy that we’ve worked hard to ensure is woven throughout all that we do,” says Tollman.
“From supporting and empowering the local communities we visit, to raising awareness around some of the world’s most at risk wildlife populations, and contributing to the overall health of the planet, TreadRight has been instrumental in powering TTC’s continuing sustainability journey.”
At the event celebration last night at the WE Global Learning Centre in Toronto, The TreadRight Foundation announced two new projects, the first partnering with ME to WE in Ecuador to support a water project in that country, and another to help provide handicraft training at a facility at the Iraq al-Amir Women’s Cooperative.
Other examples of projects supported by The TreadRight Foundation since its inception 10 years ago include:
- A partnership with Wildlife Conservation Society to help Big Cats, a program dedicated to help all seven species listed as threatened, near threatened or endangered on the IUNC Red List.
- Help for the Manitobah Mukluks’ Storyboot School project that aims to revive the traditional art by creating partnerships with elders who fashion mukluks and moccasins the traditional way.
- TreadRight, The Travel Corporation & Adventure World’s partnership with Happy Hearts Fund.
- TreadRight’s signing of an Elephant-Friendly Tourism pledge with World Animal Protection.
- The Heritage Initiative launched with the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, supporting artisan projects in Peru, Italy and Greece.
- TreadRight’s partnership with Contiki & the Sea Turtle Conservancy on Contiki Storytellers – Costa Rica, and becoming a Founding Sponsor of National Geographic Travelers World Legacy Awards.
Tollman says TTC has also integrated sustainability and conservation into normal business operations around the company. For example, moves have been made to halt tourism activities that could be harmful to animals, such as running with the bulls, shark diving and elephant rides.
Closer to home, client documents can now be ordered in electronic format to save paper, while a drive against single-use plastic is aggressively underway.
Many of TTC’s brands such as Contiki, Lion World Travel, Insight Vacations and Trafalgar have incorporated some of these sustainability initiatives into their tour offerings. Travellers can add ME to WE voluntourism trips into their itineraries in Kenya, Ecuador or India. And over 100 culturally immersive experiences are built right into the itineraries as excursions and activities.
“We don’t believe in asking travellers or travel agents to donate – if they want to that’s of their own volition – it’s important for us to take a percentage of our profits and put it into helping sustain, protect and preserve people, the planet and wildlife through different projects,” says Tollman. “The more we can grow our business, the more we can donate back, so obviously you have to do well to do good.”
TTC advises travel agents to educate themselves on ME to WE and everything TTC offers – read the websites, watch the video and look at the itineraries – so they can understand the experiences available to their clients.
“It is recognized that TTC brands are some the most innovative and immersive experiences that are available today,” says Tollman. “We believe that we are one of the most trade-friendly companies out there. It’s what Trafalgar calls their ‘agent first approach’.”
Tollman adds: “I’ve signed a personal letter of guarantee that we never have, or never will steal a client from an agency partner.”
Meanwhile the TTC brands continue to invest in supporting agents by investing in their booking websites, online training programs, the consultative sales process, and their biggest sales team ever.