UNESCO and Expedia Group join forces in sustainable tourism pledge

A traveler visits the pagoda at Wat Chalong in Phuket Thailand. Getty / MongkokChuewong

UNESCO and Expedia Group join forces in sustainable tourism pledge

UNESCO and Expedia Group have signed a global agreement to promote sustainable tourism and heritage conservation through an industry-first Sustainable Tourism Pledge whose pilot phase will be launched in Thailand this year before going global. It is the first collaboration between UNESCO and a global online travel agency.

The Sustainable Tourism Pledge requires tourism industry members to introduce concrete measures to eliminate single-use plastic and promote local culture. During its pilot phase in Thailand, it will be implemented in collaboration with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), before expanding globally.

Businesses will be invited to take the Pledge via a dedicated website developed by UNESCO. They will share what they are already doing to support sustainable tourism and heritage conservation and what they plan to do in the next 12 months, providing quantifiable information on their initiatives.

These commitments will be shared in a web-based database accessible to the public. Participating businesses will receive a ‘We signed the UNESCO Sustainable Tourism Pledge’ emblem, and will be required to renew their commitment every year and report on progress achieved.

The Pledge is designed to inspire and provide incentives to local tourism businesses in key destinations, such as coastal areas and World Heritage sites, to support sustainable tourism and safeguard heritage in line with the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals.

“The reality is that everyone needs to play their part in protecting the planet and in protecting culture, and with 1.4 billion tourists crossing international borders last year alone, tourism has an impact,” said Ernesto Ottone R., UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture. “The Sustainable Tourism Pledge aims to turn words into action. This collaboration with Expedia Group and the pilot initiative for Thai tourism is about taking those steps to minimize waste in the tourism sector and promote the role of culture for sustainable development. This is good for the planet and for communities.”

“The Pledge demonstrates our joint commitment to promoting sustainable tourism and enhancing environmental consciousness across the travel industry", said Mr. Ang Choo Pin, Senior Director for Government and Corporate Affairs, Asia at Expedia Group. “In particular, we will collaborate closely with the hospitality sector to enhance environmental and sustainable tourism consciousness and practices across Thailand.”

Main photo: A traveller visits the pagoda at Wat Chalong in Phuket Thailand. Getty / MongkokChuewong