Story by Rod Charles
Vacay.ca Deputy Editor
As responsible tourists we must ask ourselves important questions.
Will my trip hurt the environment or local wildlife? Will my journey support local vendors? Does the region encourage human trafficking, suppress human rights or create conditions that put children at risk?
One organization that is asking questions like these and working for change is The Travel Corporation, a 4th generation family-owned business with Canadian operations in Toronto. Operating in 70 countries and serving over two million customers, The Travel Corporation is in a unique position to give back to local communities and educate tourists about ethical and sustainable travel. Working in conjunction with over 30 guided travel brands including Trafalgar, Contiki Holidays and Insight Vacations, The Travel Corporation has made responsible travel their business.
One way they are accomplishing this is through The TreadRight Foundation. Created as a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation and their brands, TreadRight is a global not-for-profit dedicated to sustainable travel and the environment.
“We’ve had opportunities to partner with a number of truly inspiring sustainability leaders through The TreadRight Foundation’s near decade of 40-plus project partnerships, from Céline and the Kielburgers, to Petra Nemcova, Princess Tatiana of Greece, Terri Irwin, and many more. Each one of them has played an important role in helping to guide TreadRight and TTC as we continue on our sustainability journey and we’re grateful for that guidance and collaboration,” says Shannon Guihan, Program Director of The TreadRight Foundation. “Giving back is important because we recognize that each of us needs to do our part. That’s one of the ideas TreadRight has been built on.”
Here are some of our favourite TreadRight Foundation initiatives.
PEOPLE WHO ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE
The Kielburger Family – ME to WE: Let’s give credit to the Kielberger family who continue to make Canada proud with the ME to WE movement. On World Tourism Day, The Travel Corporation in collaboration with the TreadRight Foundation joined forces with ME To We. The results have been fabulous. Guests can book ME to WE Immersive Volunteer Trip extensions in India, the Ecuadorian Amazon or Kenya.
“What makes ME to WE Trips unique is that travellers have the opportunity to contribute to sustainable development work, which has a 20 year history impact and we are so pleased to be partnering with The Travel Corporation,” said Craig Kielburger, co-founder of ME to WE in a press release.
Learn more about Me To We On Vacay.ca: Kielburgers boost volunteer travel
Céline Cousteau: I had the pleasure of meeting Céline Cousteau, a filmmaker and director as well as founder and executive director of CauseCentric Productions. Her remarkable efforts have not only made a difference in protecting the worlds oceans and natural wonders but have helped to educate millions of people about important issues facing our world.
Cousteau has made it her business to collaborate with nonprofit organizations and partners on humanitarian or environmental initiatives. TreadRight welcomed Céline as one of their ambassadors in 2015.
Read about Céline Cousteau On Vacay.ca: Pearls of wisdom from Céline Cousteau
PROTECTION OF WILDLIFE
Wilderness Foundation – Africa: Until 1970 rhino populations worldwide were relatively stable with minimal poaching incidents, but not anymore. That’s why The Wilderness Foundation – Africa supports conservation agencies and organized private game reserves. The organization also works to encourage politicians and decision-makers to end the illegal trade in rhino horn and other wildlife products.
Wildlife SOS – India: It’s not just rhino’s who need our help. Home to almost 60% of Earth’s remaining elephant population, India is key to this species’ survival. According to their website, elephants are killed at a rate of 100 animals a day at the hands of humans from illegal poaching of their ivory tusks, habitat loss and enslavement. Another factor are tourists who are knowingly or unknowingly complicit by engaging in the practice of elephant riding.
Wildlife SOS – India aims to halt the abuse of wild and captive animals within the country and is a strong advocate for ending the practice of elephant “joy” riding.
PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST
The Storyboot School: The Kielburger Family isn’t the only Canadian connection in the TreadRight Foundation bullpen. The Manitobah Mukluks Storyboot Project, in their first first North American initiative, helps revive a traditional art by creating partnerships with elders and artisans who fashion mukluks and moccasins the traditional way.
By way of a TreadRight Heritage Initiative grant, educational and work space at The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto is made available. An Aboriginal artisan provides weekly Storyboot school sessions that serve to teach the heritage art of mukluk-making to local Indigenous students and visitors. The finished work is displayed and sold in the museum’s gift shop.
Happy Hearts Fund: Realizing the importance of supporting people on the ground, The Happy Hearts Fund is designed to rebuild safe, resilient schools in areas impacted by natural disasters. The Happy Hearts Fund is active in ten countries and has rebuilt 130 schools that were damaged or destroyed by natural disasters. In partnership with the Happy Hearts Fund and the Philam foundation, the Travel Corporation generously contributed US $40,000 towards the re-building of the Alang Alang school.
MORE ABOUT THE TRAVEL CORPORATION
The TreadRight Foundation Website: https://www.treadright.org/
In Other News: Recently The Travel Corporation announced its Diamond Sponsorship of the UN International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017, in partnership with the UNWTO. This is a perfect fit since the United Nations 70th General Assembly designated 2017 as the UN International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.