More than 150 industry travel and tourism executives gathered in Edinburgh on Wednesday for a global sustainability initiative launched by Prince Harry.
Travalyst – a digital partnership led by by the Duke of Sussex and featuring heavyweight industry supporters – had its UK launch at the EICC after the venue impressed on its own sustainability measures.
Prince Harry, who journeyed from London by train to Edinburgh on Tuesday, made two short speeches at the conference, which has been backed by Booking.com, Skyscanner, Visa and Trip Advisor. The prince – who insisted everyone just call him ‘Harry’ – warned about the destructive effective of tourism on the environment and said the new venture will be about ‘transforming the future of tourism and travel for everyone’.
Travalyst – effectively a start-up organisation working under Harry’s Sussex Royal Foundation – will be a resource to help consumers make informed choices about how they travel, empowering them with knowledge about sustainability.
Harry said: “I want to help create a platform where all of us concerned about these issues can work together, where competitors can unite and incentivise a positive systemic change. There’s a reason why this hasn’t been tried before, but with our partners we have the best shot.
“Travalyst’s founding partners — Booking.com, Skyscanner, Tripadvisor, Trip.com and Visa — have joined forces to lead and mobilise the tourism industry and will be a catalyst for positive change.
We have made a great start since launching in Amsterdam, but we will not reach our goal of a more sustainable industry without on-the-ground experience and expertise, and this is why we’re here today.”
He added: “We want to hear truths and perspectives from across the industry. We know that we do not need to reinvent the wheel – a lot of great work has already been done, but our research, again, shows that many of these endeavours have failed to scale or reach the consciousness of consumers.”
Marshall Dallas, Chief Executive of the EICC, where the ‘Travalyst Scotland Summit’ was held, with the support of VisitScotland, said it was testament to the venue’s own sustainability credentials that it was selected for the UK launch of Harry’s eco-tourism venture.
He said: “We’re delighted to host today – it sits really well with our key themes of sustainability, primarily. We have for some time been operating this business under a triple bottom line approach which gives equal precedence to profitability, clearly as we’re a business and we need to make a profit, sustainability and our social outreach. But it’s a fabulous event, Travalyst, and led by Prince Harry, so we’re delighted to welcome him here this morning.”
He added: “Certainly our sustainability credentials are pretty well known, so yes, definitely [helped towards the EICC being chosen as hosts]. That was I think part of the criteria and I think it’s really interesting they hosted it in Edinburgh. Edinburgh has got a really ambitious target in terms of becoming net zero in terms of carbon emissions by 2035, 10 years ahead of anybody else in Scotland. I guess there are a lot of synergies with what they are trying to achieve with Edinburgh and indeed Scotland.”