Travel firms’ ethical tourism credentials scrutinised in consumer report

Worldwide: UK-based alternative consumer organisation Ethical Consumer has published the first report of its kind assessing the ethical tourism and environmental credentials of travel booking platforms around the world.

Focusing on 29 companies through which travellers book their own accommodation and / or transport, the report was created to provide “trustworthy” information for consumers and encourage people to reconsider how they travel in the future, including choosing more sustainable alternatives to flying by plane.

Each company on the list began with a score of 14. Points could be deducted for failing to abide by ethical standards in a range of categories [e.g. setting precise targets to reduce environmental footprint, engagement in tax avoidance schemes etc], but points could also be added for those implementing environmentally positive practices such as retaining a not-for-profit, B Corps or charity status.

Coming out on top of the ranking were Bristol-based glamping company Canopy & Stars, which was commended for its B Corp Status and commitment to carbon management and reporting, and Italian ethical holiday rental website Fairbnb.coop, a marketplace for “authentic, fair and conscious tourism”. Fairbnb.coop also promises to donate 50 per cent of its 15 per cent commission fee to social projects selected by local residents.

Hostel accommodation charity YHA and online hostel guide Independent Hostels UK were also recommended alongside Canopy & Stars and Fairbnb.coop as recommended sites for travellers looking to book using ethical and sustainable practices.

However, global brands such as Expedia, TripAdvisor and Airbnb fared less well, ranking in the bottom ten of the ethical practices list.

Airbnb ranked worst for excessive pay after a CEO remuneration package of $120 million was reportedly handed out in 2020, mainly in the form of stocks.

Meanwhile, travel agency TUI was placed at the bottom of the overall list as it was deducted points for providing deportation flights to take migrants away from the UK. The report went on to allege that TUI is still selling tickets to parks that keep orcas in captivity, drawing criticism from animal rights campaigners.

Ruth Strange, a lead researcher on the project, told The Guardian: “Companies talk about sustainability but it’s hard for people who don’t know how to analyse them to know how much action is being taken.”

Expressing her shock that only three companies on the list were judged to be taking reasonable steps to tackle their carbon footprints, Strange urged global booking brands to take the issue of ethical tourism more seriously and called on holidaymakers to “think differently and influence friends and family to make changes” in the way they book travel from now on.

Click here to read more from the Ethical Consumer report.

 

Emanuele dal Carlo, a co-founder of Fairbnb.coop, will be joining a ShortTermRentalz RockSTRz webinar on “The new era of smarter, sustainable, responsible tourism” on Tuesday 27 September [4pm BST]. To learn more about sustainable and ethical tourism, sign up for the session for free at this link.