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WHY ‘GOING GREEN’ PAYS OFF: Sustainable Practices Drive Destination Choice For A Majority Of Travelers, New Research Unveils

DATELINE, CA – May 12, 2016 – A majority of travelers in the United States spend more money per trip, travel more frequently and stay longer when destinations offer sustainable practices, according to a report released today by Sustainable Travel International and Mandala Research.

The 2016 Role of Sustainability in Travel & Tourism report revealed compelling results, most notably that 60 percent of U.S. travelers (105.3 million) have taken a “sustainable” trip in the last three years and that these travelers are extremely valuable to the tourism industry. These travelers spend more (on average $600 per trip), stay longer (seven days compared to four days) and bring higher benefits to local communities including job creation, giving-back and volunteering.

Visit California, a non-profit organization that works in partnership with the state’s travel industry to develop marketing campaigns that drive tourism to the state, was a lead sponsor of the study. “The findings show that tourists, especially California tourists, value and intentionally seek sustainable tourism options,” said Visit California President & CEO Caroline Beteta. “A sustainable mindset is woven into the California brand, and travelers who come here will find California’s travel industry is leading the way in sustainable practices.”

This inaugural report on sustainable travel included responses from 2,292 leisure travelers. They answered nearly 40 questions related to their understanding of sustainable travel, perceptions, what motivates them to book travel and much more.

According to Laura Mandala, Managing Director of Mandala Research, “We looked at the key components of sustainability, specifically, environmental, social, cultural, economic and governance. The study reveals that while experiential travel by Millennials is driving a new sustainable travel mindset, the majority of the general leisure market is also emphatically behind that change.”

Sustainable Travel International Founder and CEO Brian Mullis said, “The study is a huge wake-up call for the travel industry. It shows that the market for sustainable travel is much larger than previously thought. More than half of this market, or 60 million U.S. travelers are selecting their travel company based on their sustainability practices; and 56 million make destination choices based on the sustainable practices at the destination. This is too big to ignore.”

Sustainable tourism is one of the most progressive and rapidly growing movements in the travel and tourism industry. It has become universally recognized as a vital sector of human and industrial activity, yet sustainable travel hasn’t become mainstream. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) describes sustainable tourism as “development [that] meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunity for the future.” This survey indicates that sustainable travel has an even broader meaning beyond environmental, including cultural, social and economic: A large majority say they believe sustainable tourism means respecting and enhancing local community, helping to conserve heritage, nature and wildlife, minimizing damage, waste and all types of pollution as a result of their travel.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • More than than half (53 percent) of sustainable travelers report that sustainable practices at the destination were a driver of destination choice, either being the “key factor in their decision” to visit the destination (28%) or helping them choose between destinations (25%), (compared to only eight percent of all other )
  • 63 percent of all travelers say they are much more likely to consider destinations where there is a strong effort to conserve and protect natural resources. The number jumps to 75 percent among sustainable
  • Travelers feel a great deal of responsibility for ensuring their trip has a positive impact on the place they visit, 63 percent; 64 percent believe that responsibility also rests with local government.
  • More than 60 percent of all travelers feel strongly about their obligation to leave an area the same or better than they found it
  • More than two-fifths of sustainable travelers say they have purchased from travel companies because they believe they offer fair wages to their employees and invest in employees; while 38% say they have done business with travel companies who have helped to reduce human trafficking.
  • Over half of sustainable travelers purchased something from a travel company because they offered experiences that reflect the unique character of the destination (57 percent), educated customers about those unique features (54 percent), or provided primarily locally made or sourced products (54 percent). This compares to about a fifth of all leisure travelers who say they would make purchases based on these.

The purpose of the study was to help the travel and tourism industry better understand how travelers define sustainable tourism and how they incorporate it into their travel decisions and behaviors.

Mandala added that the study finally makes the business case for travel organizations to get involved in all facets of sustainability. “This segment of the market generates billions of dollars in spending with 105 million leisure travelers who are sustainable travelers, spending on average over $1,749 per trip compared to $1,154 for general leisure travelers.”

Additional Study Sponsors Include Travel Oregon, G Adventures, Destination Better, Shop America Alliance, Louisiana Tax Free Shopping, and Wild Rivers Coast Alliance.

More details and a full copy of the 2016 Role of Sustainability in Travel & Tourism report can be found here. Individuals interested in learning how they can increase sustainable travel practices are encouraged to share the study results and become involved with organizations such as Sustainable Travel International.

About Mandala Research. Mandala Research is one of the leading travel and tourism research companies in the world. The firm has pioneered the “firsts” of many niche studies in the travel industry and offers extensive knowledge of several growing demographics and trends, including African American, LGBT, and U.S. Hispanic, and women travelers;  and niche markets such as cultural, arts, and heritage tourism, retail/shopping tourism,  wine and culinary tourism.  Mandala’s clients include destinations, major travel brands, associations, government agencies, and NGOs and has expertise in brand tracking, brand equity and brand identity research.  For more information, contact or call 703.820.1041.

About Sustainable Travel International. Sustainable Travel International is a non-profit organization working to improve the lives of people around the world and the environments they rely upon. By leveraging the power of travel and tourism and providing business and government leaders with the guidance, policies and solutions they need, we aim to ensure that the communities they’re engaged in thrive and their environments are healthy for future generations. For more information, visit or call +1-917-677- 5731.

About Visit California. Visit California is a nonprofit organization with a mission to develop and maintain marketing programs – in partnership with the state’s travel industry – that keep California top-of-mind as a premier travel destination. Spending by travelers totaled $122.5 billion in 2015 in California, generating 1,064,000 jobs in the state and $9.9 billion in state and local tax revenues. For more information about Visit California and for a free California Official State Visitor’s Guide, go to For story ideas, media information, downloadable images, video and more, go to

Media Inquiries: Email or call Paul Wilke, Upright Position Communications, at or +1 415 881-7995.


A New Way to See and Experience Lanzarote in the Canary Islands

Arrecife, April 22, 2016 – This week, Turismo Lanzarote launched “The Lanzarote Effect” (#LanzaroteEffect), a new promotional tourism campaign focused on the island’s commitment to balancing art and nature with sustainable tourism development. While most visitors come to Lanzarote for the sun, sand and sea, this campaign will highlight a new way to experience the volcanic island, showcasing its unique cultural and historical attributes and told through the eyes of locals.

“We are proud of our island’s commitment to sustainability and to see how that commitment helps to shape a more inviting and authentic experience for our visitors. ‘The Lanzarote Effect’ campaign will help us share our yet to be told story with the rest of the world,” remarks Hector Fernández, CEO of Turismo Lanzarote.

The destination image of Lanzarote has historically been that of most other Mediterranean islands—sun, sand and sea. However, Lanzarote has much more to offer visitors. From their strict land-use and tourism infrastructure codes to the establishment of seven cultural centers highlighting the art, history, and values of the people, Lanzarote fosters a visitor experience that is more connected and enriched because of its commitment to a sustainable lifestyle. In 1995 they developed the Lanzarote Declaration, staking claim on their commitment to sustainable tourism values. Today, everywhere you go on the island, you are surrounded by culture, history, and gastronomy. In April 2015, Lanzarote was the first destination in the world to receive the Instituto de Turismo Responsible’s Biosphere Responsible Tourism certification, the first Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) approved certification for the globally recognized GSTC destination standard.

“Sustainable tourism certification may be better known for hotels, tours, and attractions, but destination certification is now growing.  The Biosphere Responsible Tourism certification is one of the few certification schemes available for destinations, and has achieved the elite level “GSTC-Approved” mark. Destinations around the world can use the GSTC Destination Criteria to improve their sustainability policies and practices, and many are now pursuing certification as a means of proving their commitment and actions” remarked Randy Durband, CEO of the GSTC.

Turismo Lanzarote has partnered with Sustainable Travel International since 2012 to receive guidance on how to better identify and promote the island’s responsible actions and values. In 2012, Lanzarote was one of the Early Adopters of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s (GSTC) Destination Criteria. The organizations have worked together to refresh Turismo Lanzarote’s brand values and communications strategy, train public and private sector stakeholders about sustainable tourism messaging, and helped them achieve sustainable destination certification. In 2015, the island became the world’s first GSTC-recognized Biosphere Certified Destination. This certification highlights the island’s exemplary efforts toward mindful tourism development, conservation, and green growth. In 2016, Turismo Lanzarote and Sustainable Travel International developed “The Lanzarote Effect” campaign based on their six brand values: nature, gastronomy, health and sports, culture, the arts, and leaving a legacy.

“The compassion and commitment that the people of Lanzarote have toward their island’s future is both captivating and addictive. ‘The Lanzarote Effect’ draws you into the island in a way not experienced in other destinations,” stated Lizzie Keenan, Director of Marketing and Communications at Sustainable Travel International. “Lanzarote is one of the world’s best examples of destination stewardship. It is time they are recognized for it and more people experience what makes Lanzarote so special.”

Over the next 12 months, Lanzarote’s story will be told through the voices of local people. “The Lanzarote Effect” campaign, which was inspired by a short film produced by Lea Amiel and Nicolas Libersalle, will highlight the island’s spirit, something not commonly shared in its marketing campaigns. From artists to educators, scientists to wine makers, the people of Lanzarote will tell their story of what makes Lanzarote valuable and worth experiencing, both now and in the future.

In addition to a dynamic social media campaign, destination training is planned for travel trade in the UK and other target markets.

For the latest updates on the campaign, please visit or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.


About Turismo Lanzarote

Lanzarote is a unique island of extreme and unusual beauty. Amazing nature, dramatic landscapes, long sandy shores, a deeply rooted local culture and gastronomy, and above all a genuine respect for nature and its environment. All of them make Lanzarote an ideal destination to enjoy, and visit again. Let yourself be surprised! Visit us at to learn more.

About Sustainable Travel International

Sustainable Travel International is a non-profit organization working to improve the lives of people around the world and the environments they rely upon. By leveraging the power of travel and tourism and providing business and government leaders with the guidance, policies and solutions they need, we aim to ensure that the communities they’re engaged in thrive and their environments are healthy for future generations.  For more information, visit


Earth Day: The Lanzarote Effect

Imagine an island where scarce water brings ancient vineyards to life. Where art, culture and the landscape is celebrated in every household, in every town center. This place is Lanzarote, an island with a story to tell. If you thought Lanzarote was just sun, sand and sea, think again. Conservation and cultural heritage are embedded in the history of Lanzarote and its people. Through a strong commitment and adherence to sustainable tourism development, this island offers unspoiled views and a visitor experience that leaves a mark on your soul long after you depart. In honor of Earth Day, we are celebrating the island of Lanzarote, one of seven Canary Islands off of the coast of Morocco.

International Women’s Day – Women in Tourism

Women around the world play a significant role in the travel and tourism industry. Tourism offers respectable, stable opportunities to underserved populations who may not have benefited from formalized educations –– many of whom are women. Today is International Women’s Day and we are celebrating by highlighting some of the women we respect the most when it comes to changing how travel affects our world. We are honoring women who are building better futures for themselves and their communities through this large, diverse industry.

Sustainable Travel International Names Business Sustainability Leader as Chief Operating Officer

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK February 4, 2016 – Sustainable Travel International, a leading nonprofit organization focused on improving lives and protecting places through changes in the way travel and tourism is managed, today named Geoff Bolan as Chief Operating Officer to help meet the growing demand for sustainable tourism solutions to some of the world’s greatest global threats like climate change and economic inequality. Bolan will work closely with Sustainable Travel International’s CEO and President to expand the organization’s resource base and build a strong foundation for strategic growth.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Geoff as Sustainable Travel International is poised to expand its global impact,” says Brian Mullis, CEO and founder.  “Geoff brings a wealth of expertise in sustainability as well as travel and tourism.  His broad experience at the nexus of business and environmental sustainability will be a tremendous asset.”

Bolan’s background includes more than 25 years of management, business development, and strategic planning on a global scale in both the non-profit and private sectors. Most recently he held multiple leadership roles with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) program, leading all commercial development for the Americas region, then running all aspects of U.S. operations.  He’s held previous management positions in the hospitality sector with TravelCLICK, McDonalds, and iExplore. Bolan started his career in enterprise and ecotourism development with Conservation International (CI), working primarily in Latin America. Bolan also holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and BA from Tufts University.

“I look forward to returning to the tourism sector and helping to expand Sustainable Travel International’s worldwide impact,” Bolan says.  “For 13 years, Sustainable Travel International has racked up a proven track record in helping align the interests of people, planet, and tourism through well-crafted and thoughtful strategic planning and training.  I’m very excited to bring Sustainable Travel International’s work to the next level in bettering people’s lives and minimizing environmental and cultural impact through smarter tourism.”


About Sustainable Travel International

Sustainable Travel International (STI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works toward improving lives and protecting places through travel and tourism. For 13 years, Sustainable Travel International has been developing, testing, and sharing cutting edge methodologies, solutions and knowledge to drive greater sustainability in destinations. Governments, companies, NGOs and communities worldwide are uniting and using these solutions to achieve the right balance between economic and sustainable development, and protection of their natural, cultural and heritage assets.

Visit us at to learn more.


Media Contact

Sustainable Travel International

Lizzie Keenan

Director, Marketing and Communications

+1 917-338-9628