Sustainable Travel Ireland announces free sustainability training and membership for tourism industry

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The company, which provides training in sustainable and responsible tourism, has waived its membership fees in support of the tourism industry during Covid-19, reports Clodagh Dooley

Sustainable Travel Ireland, the country’s leading and longest-running sustainability training company for the tourism industry, has announced that it is waiving membership fees for the hard-hit tourism industry in this time of Covid-19.

Globally, tourism accounted for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions from 2009 to 2013, making the sector a bigger polluter than the construction industry. In this era of climate change, it’s vital that the industry is positively transformed in order to make it clean, and to maintain its positive contribution to the Irish economy.  

Meanwhile, tourists are demanding more environmentally friendly and sustainable products, so the tourism industry has an opportunity to embrace this trend. Recently, the Nielsen consumer behaviour study found 46% of people say they want green accommodation and 67% say they would pay more for it. 

Sustainable Travel Ireland’s mission is to transform the Irish tourism industry into a regenerative business sector that respects and protects the environment, but also supports local communities and makes better places for people to live and work in. Which is why the company has announced that it is waiving its membership fees.

Speaking about Sustainable Travel Ireland’s announcement, Director Rob Rankin, says, “It seems really fitting that we are announcing the suspension of membership fees hot on the heels of the Burren EcoTourism Network in Co Clare being named Best Tourism Project in the Lonely Planet Best in Tourism list for 2021. This shows that Lonely Planet is also hugely cognisant that truly excellent tourism products and destinations are sustainable ones.”  

Rob says the world has approximately one decade to restrict global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, or face the risk of floods, droughts and extreme heat worsening significantly. “So the tourism industry, like every other, must change its ways, because, plain and simple, it’s the right thing to do.

“But there is also a real opportunity here. There is huge demand from consumers for a cleaner, greener tourism product, and one that positively contributes to local communities. Ireland could be a true leader in this field and develop a tourism product that is unrivalled and brings in huge revenue.

“And while Covid-19 has decimated the tourism business, the pandemic has also forced us all to reassess our business models and the impact they are having on the planet. We must rebuild the tourism industry, as it’s crucial to Ireland’s economy, but we must do it in a way that is sustainable.”   

Rob continues, “I am devastated that so many tourism businesses are closed or on pause now, including my own sister company Vagabond Tours. But the downtime is an invaluable opportunity to implement the sustainability changes that are vital to long-term viability and success. And that’s why we want to offer tourism businesses free sustainability training, to get them moving on this vital and rewarding journey to sustainability.”

Some of the main benefits of free membership include:

  • Access to free and low-cost sustainability training.
  • Access to a tourism-specific group carbon-offset scheme, which offers significant discounts due to bulk purchasing of certified offsets.   
  • Invitations to free webinars and discounted tickets for  paid series of webinars and annual conferences (20%).
  • Ability to progress to Certified Member to bronze, silver and gold level as per the relevant criteria. This requires an independent audit. 
  • Relevant Global Sustainable Tourism Council-recognised criteria to use to work towards certification. Sustainable Travel Ireland is the only Irish company offering these internationally renowned GSTC-recognised criteria. The GSTC is a UN-mandated organisation. 

Signing up to free membership is extremely simple. Businesses just need to register at: sustainabletravelireland.ie/free-membership/

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Clodagh Dooley

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