This Fall, Travel + Social Good (T+SG) will hold their annual summit in New York City, November 16th -17th. Launched in 2013, the aim of the non-profit organization is to help halt global problems through business and leisure travel. T+SG does this, in part, by informing and educating the tourism industry. That information ultimately trickles down to travelers, who learn about sustainable tourism and ways to improve - or not worsen - the environments and economies of the places they visit.
T+SG estimates that there are 1 billion travellers per year. For every $100 spent during travel, Travel + Social Good’s executive director, Kelley Louise says, “less than $10 benefits the local community.” There is a “tourism leakage,” Louise says, and people aren’t investing in communities as much as they might think.
In 2015, the United Nations published 17 Global Goals to alleviate some of the world’s most urgent issues, like poverty and hunger, by 2030. These Goals include “responsible consumption,” and T+SG asserts the tourism “industry possesses the power to impact every issue our global community faces,” according to their website. There is great potential, the company says, “to harness the power of the travel industry, and transform it into a force for good.”
The theme of this year’s Travel + Social Good Summit is “Transparency.” Over 150 guests have been invited, for what Louise calls, an interactive conference where “innovators” can come together to “develop concrete and actionable solutions” where people can simultaneously travel and do some social good.
Tourists can “unwittingly hurt” the countries and communities they travel to, Kelley says. She shares, for example, that the coral jewelry sold to tourists in the Caribbean has been “100% removed from the ocean, and is harmful to the land and sea.” When asked about the traveller who prefers to buy locally so a family can eat the same day, versus preserving the ocean for future generations, Kelley has a response. T+SG aims to equip travellers with the tools to be conscious of the impact of their decisions. She says T+SG intends for people to start “integrating sustainability into your lifestyle… on a day-to-day basis.”
This year’s Travel Social Good Summit uses the UN’s Global Goals “as inspiration for the issues the travel industry can help to solve,” and hopes to spark “radical change throughout the tourism sector… through business practices and consumer behavior.” Previous Summits have lead to programs being implemented such as the Ritz-Carlton’s Impact Experience, which allows “opportunities for our guests to contribute to the local community,” according to the hotel’s website.
In addition to their annual Summit, T+SG’s other initiatives include Hubs (local chapters) and Media Network (content creation) that further their mission “to help build the travel industry of the future, where all travel will have a positive economic, environmental, cultural and social impact for traveler, place and resident.”
For more information, please visit http://www.travelsocialgood.org/
Alexandrea is a journalist and producer living in NY. A graduate of UC Berkeley and Columbia University, she splits her time between California and New York. She's an avid reader and is penning her first non-fiction book.