In an exclusive interview today, Leilani Latimer, Sabre's Director of Sustainability Initiatives, asserted that the global travel business must work together to identify and implement a clear, transparent and verifiable certification system for sustainable tourism. Furthermore she emphasised that any system that relied solely on self certificaion would not be good enough. -¬---The value to the general public of a system that is not based on outside certification is nil-¬~ She said.
Sabre is giving a high priority to sustainability, seeing it as a systemic facet of their operation. In their own business a recent staff community sustainability promotion found 2600 employees manning 149 events in 27 countries. Sabre now have a robust fuel efficiency consulting division, and offer offset programmes amongst many other sustainability initiatives. The organisation believes that, due to their sophisticated management and monitoring systems, they are in a unique position to identify and manage carbon footprints. A recent instance of Sabre-¬™s capability is a method of providing enhanced detail with emissions reports to take into consideration other aspects of sustainability.
Sabre, through Travelocity, also manages Travelocity/travelforgood, embracing travel as an agent for positive change. The site offers -¬---Change Ambassadors-¬~ grants, volunteers stories, podcasts, responsible travel tips and offsets and partners with Earthwatch, GlobalAware and the American Hiking Society amongst others.
In an effort to make sustainable tourism choices simpler and the consumers choice easier, top industry heavyweights, including Sabre have recently joined together in the Sustainable Tourism Criteria Initiative.The co-ordinating committee includes: UNEP, UN-WTO, CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity), IUCN, ICMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites, Rainforest Alliance, CAST (Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism), Conservation International, The International Ecotourism Society, IHRA, Federation of Tour Operators, Conde Nast Traveler, Ecotourism Kenya, Choice Hotels International, Hyatt, Instiduto de Hospitalidade, EcoTrans, VISIT, Expedia, Tourism Concern and Sabre Holdings.
Latimer envisages a certification system that gives individual weight to different areas of sustainability so that clients can make choices according to their individual preferences. Tourism facilities could be graded on their sustainable management systems, preservation of cultural and environmental heritage and biodiversity, fair trade and local involvement and energy and emissions management separately.
Said Latimer -¬---The travel industry has a great history of reacting positively to change. For example, millions of trees and dollars that have been saved by etickets. I-¬™m sure that, in our quest for efficiency and sustainability, the industry will come together for the greater good.-¬~
Even for a company with 9,000 employees in 45 countries and revenues of over $2,8bn, described as the -¬---World-¬™s leading travel marketing distribution provider-¬~ Sabre takes sustainability seriously.
The Corporate headquarters office in Southlake, Texas, which houses almost one-third of the 9,000 employees, was awarded the silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) by the U.S. Green Building Council after it was constructed in 2002. Recycling, Volunteerism and employee involvement is all actively pursued.
Key is the status of the sustainability department. Latimer, Head of Global Sustainability, is an 18-year Sabre employee, a marketing professional and ex-head of Global Sales. Serious about marketing, serious about business, serious about sustainability.
Monday, August 18, 2008