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

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

Panama’s Tourism Ministry Achieves Progress on the Development of Ecotourism in Protected Areas with the Help of Sustainable Travel International

PANAMA CITY, PANAMA – November 23, 2015 This month, global NGO Sustainable Travel International met with Panama’s new Minister of Tourism, Gustavo Him, to discuss best practice approaches to the development of ecotourism in Panama. The objective of the work being conducted is a comprehensive and stakeholder-driven vision for the development of national parks and protected areas and their buffer zones that benefits of local communities. In a series of meetings the new Minister of Tourism Gustavo Him reaffirmed Panama’s commitment to pursuing tourism development in a way that improves livelihoods and conserves Panama’s world-class natural attractions and unique ecosystems.

Panama boasts some of the most diverse wildlife in Central America, including large rainforests that form a biological bridge between North and South America, and some of the world’s best bird watching, home to almost 1,000 different species. But, until recently, Panama has not actively promoted tourism in its parks and protected areas. Most of its 2.3 million annual visitors still don’t venture outside Panama City, where they come for shopping and business related to the canal.

An unusually large portion Panama’s land area—39%—is under protection. UNESCO Natural World Heritage site Coiba Island in the southwest of the country is part of the Pacific Marine Biological Corridor—a world-class destination for diving and whale watching. The island also has pristine beaches, mangrove forests, scarlet macaws, mantled howler monkeys, and four species of sea turtles.

In Boquete, Volcan Baru, a key destination for hikers, is the one place in the world with views of both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The legendary routes of Camino Real and Camino de Cruces, where the Spaniards originally crossed from the Pacific to the Caribbean by land (a predecessor to the Panama Canal) have the potential to be developed as ecotourism routes across highly diverse landscapes. They could link tropical rainforest and mountain ecosystems, and access rural and indigenous communities.

Since Panama’s formal commitment to ecotourism, in an agreement signed on Earth Day, April 22, 2015, Sustainable Travel International has been working closely with the Ministry of the Environment, the Tourism Authority, and private sector organizations in Panama, to conduct a comprehensive diagnostic of opportunities and challenges for developing tourism in Panama’s protected areas.

The project to develop a common vision for the responsible and sustainable development of ecotourism is due to be completed in January 2016. “Responsibly developed tourism offers unparalleled opportunities to stimulate the local economy, benefit indigenous communities and conserve rich biodiversity”, said Dr. Twining-Ward. “Panama is well on the way to the development of a world–class ecotourism offering. They are doing all the right things to maintain the authenticity of the experience, preserve ecosystems and keep visitors safe.”

The next step in the project is for Sustainable Travel International to develop a strategic vision and action plan for ecotourism in Panama. This will provide the framework for a coordinated approach to tourism in parks and protected areas.

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Media Contact:

Lizzie Keenan

Director, Marketing and Communications

+1 (917) 382-9185


About Sustainable Travel International

Sustainable Travel International’s mission is to improve lives and protect places through travel and tourism. A global non-profit and industry thought leader since 2002, Sustainable Travel International has helped communities, hotels, airlines, cruise lines and governments to plan responsibly—to chart their road maps for responsible growth so that they can contribute to the economic and social well-being of people around the globe whose lives and livelihoods depend on the world’s wanderlust.

Visit us at to learn more.

The 10 Million Better Campaign Launches as a Focus for Tourism that Improves Lives and Protects Places

PORTLAND, Oregon, Sept. 25, 2015 – The industry-wide 10 Million Better campaign to monitor and scale up social and environmental benefits from travel and tourism was officially launched at the Travel and Tourism Collective Impact Summit in Portland, Oregon this week.

Spearheaded by the NGO Sustainable Travel International, the campaign convenes industry leaders worldwide around the goal demonstrating improvements in the lives of at least 10 million people and their families through travel and tourism by 2025. Targeted improvements include growth of income and opportunity, better protection of destinations’ natural and cultural resources and heritage attractions, and more efficient resource use. Campaign participants have begun pooling their impacts using Sustainable Travel International’s impact counter, which currently shows they’re reaching nearly 300,000 people and counting.

“The impact counter demonstrates the power of tourism to improve lives and protect places,” said Louise Twining-Ward, CEO of Sustainable Travel International. “Great efforts to turn the industry’s impacts positive exist, but they’re scattered across the globe. Adopting shared objectives, tracking progress and aggregating the data are key to leveraging tourism’s enormous power to do good and to help meet global sustainability goals, as the UN has mandated it to do.”

Travel and tourism is one of the world’s largest industries. It provides one out of eleven jobs worldwide and has an enormous global environmental and social footprint, including 5% of greenhouse gas emissions. The Sustainable Development Goals to be adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit September 25-27 include promoting sustainable tourism and monitoring its impacts. The UNWTO declared September 27 World Tourism Day to highlight what UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called “the immense potential of tourism to drive inclusive economic growth, protect the environment and promote sustainable development and a life of dignity for all.”

Many travel industry and sustainability leaders have endorsed the 10 Million Better campaign and pledged their support.  Corporate sponsors include G Adventures and Globus. Afar, Carlson, Delaware North, G Adventures Intrepid Travel, Sierra Club, Skål International, Starwood and others have designated campaign ambassadors. Sustainable Travel International’s Leadership Networks including such brands as A&K, Finnair, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and United Airlines have endorsed the campaign.

Contact:  Stephen Kent,, 914-589-5988

Portland To Host Summit on Travel and Tourism’s Collective Impacts

Gathering of Global Industry Leaders Anticipates UN Sustainable Development Goals to be Adopted 9/25 and World Tourism Day 9/27. Former Portland Mayor Sam Adams of World Resources Institute Will Give Keynote Address.

Portland, Oregon, September 9, 2015 A ground-breaking meeting of industry and sustainability leaders to lay out a collective agenda and methodologies for addressing impacts from travel and tourism will take place in Portland, Oregon September 22-23.

The “Travel and Tourism Collective Impact Summit” is organized by the NGO Sustainable Travel International and co-hosted by Travel Oregon, with additional support from Travel Portland. It will convene invited leaders of tourism destinations, major companies in travel and other industries, industry associations, NGOs and sustainability experts to work on critical issues related to the travel sector’s global impacts, and to leverage opportunities for tourism to be a major contributor to achieving global sustainability goals.

“Travel and tourism is one of the world’s largest industries and a high-stakes piece of the global sustainability puzzle,” said Sam Adams, Portland’s former Mayor and current director of the US Climate Initiative of the World Resources Institute, who will give the keynote address at the Summit. “It can be an important part of the solution, provided the industry comes together and works toward common goals.  That’s what this gathering is about.”

Worldwide, travel and tourism is a $6.6 trillion industry, generating 9% of global GDP and one out of every eleven jobs.  In the US, it generates $2.1 trillion a year (including $10.3 billion in Oregon), 10% of US exports and one of every nine American jobs (including over 100,000 jobs in Oregon).  Tourism also has a large social and environmental footprint, including generating 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and impacts on land, water and ecosystems.

“The world faces enormous challenges: end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, fix climate change. Tourism can be an engine of innovation for sustainable consumption and production. No other industry has the same potential for job creation, to provide opportunities for women, to conserve land and marine resources” said Dr. Louise Twining-Ward, CEO of Sustainable Travel International.   “Through partnerships and careful resource use, sustainable tourism generates positive impacts on people and places.  It enhances the economic vitality, livability and sustainability in places like Oregon, and it could  have those effects anywhere in the world.  Now, finally, after all these years, we have a UN mandate for sustainable tourism.”

The Sustainable Development Goals will be finalized and adopted at the UN in New York September 25-27.  They include specific goals for promoting sustainable tourism and developing and implementing tools to monitor its impacts.   The UN World Tourism Organization has declared September 27 its annual World Tourism Day to focus attention on tourism’s potential to improve lives, relieve poverty, create livelihoods, drive inclusive development, and protect natural and cultural heritage.

To help tourism do its part to fulfill global goals, Sustainable Travel International has organized the industry-wide 10 Million Better campaign. Working with partners across the travel industry, the campaign aims to demonstrate improvements in the lives of 10 million people through travel and tourism by 2025, and is developing an accessible, shared impact monitoring system tourism businesses and destinations can access to demonstrate and aggregate their progress.

At the Travel and Tourism Collective Impact Summit September 22-23 industry leaders will address common challenges, discuss the specifics of how they will work together towards shared objectives, and review methodologies for monitoring, verifying and scaling up positive collective impacts from sustainable tourism. Among the presenters and moderators are Jamie Sweeting of G Adventures/Planeterra Foundation, CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg, Shannon Stowell of Adventure Travel Trade Association, Dr. Twining-Ward of Sustainable Tourism International and many other business and thought leaders.

The Summit will be held at the Hotel deLuxe, 729 SW 15th Avenue in downtown Portland. Journalists and bloggers are invited to attend and cover the morning session on September 22, which includes the keynote address by Mayor Adams and a presentation on collective impact by Travel Oregon’s Director of Destination Development Kristin Dahl.  Journalists and bloggers are also invited to the cocktail party formally launching the 10 Million Better campaign that evening.  Side interviews with Summit presenters and participants are available at other times on request.

Live tweeting from the Summit, as well as ongoing conversations about collective impact in travel and tourism, and about the 10 Million Better campaign, can be found and joined at the hashtags #travelchanges and #10millionbetter.

For more information, to RSVP or to request interviews, please contact Stephen Kent, skent@kentcom.com914-589-5988