B Corp certification could represent the future of sustainable tourism: GlobalData

Published on : Thursday, July 22, 2021

Numerous sustainability certifications exist within the travel sector, but by spanning all areas of the environment, social and governance (ESG) spectrum, B Corp certification could become the sought-after standard, says GlobalData. The leading data and analytics company notes that, as it stands, around ten travel operators hold B Corp status, so there is great scope to increase adoption of the relevant standards required to achieve this certification.

Johanna Bonhill-Smith, Travel & Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “As the travel sector is recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses and customers alike are evolving to more sustainable ways of travel and certification will play a large part in future travel.”

Climate change (68%), resource scarcity (63%) and supply chain management (49%) were ranked as the top three most material ESG issues in a GlobalData poll*. The nature of travel is not inherently sustainable as it currently stands, but there are numerous livelihoods and economies that are heavily dependent on tourism, and this cannot be ignored. Therefore, travel operators are being urged to be more transparent with their sustainability initiatives, go beyond environmental responsibilities and adopt wider ESG goals. B Corp certification will help companies to illustrate that they are doing this.

For consumers, environmentally friendly services are more influential than how ‘smart’ a service is. A GlobalData survey** found that how ethical/environmentally friendly/socially responsible a product/service is, ‘always’, ‘often’ and ‘somewhat’ influenced 76% of global respondents when purchasing a product or service. This was a greater percentage when compared to how digitally advanced/smart the product/service is, which only influenced 66% of global respondents’ purchasing behavior. This highlights where priorities now lie for consumers and travel operators can tap into this preference with B Corp certification.

Bonhill-Smith continues: “Adoption of B Corp certification is gaining traction among travel operators. For example, having worked towards certification for three years, Intrepid Travel was the first tour operator to achieve the feat of B Corp certification. There are now various other operators that have achieved this status such as Frontiers North, Amazon Explorer and Joro. Many start-ups are now also working towards B Corp certified status, and these include niche operators such as Byway travel and Modern Adventure.

“The snag is that there is currently a lack of bigger travel operators with this certification. Larger online travel agencies have formed their own sustainability goals, one of the most notable being the Travalyst led by the Duke of Sussex in partnership with Booking.com, Skyscanner, Trip.com Group, TripAdvisor and Visa. While this is a positive initiative, B Corp certification highlights that a company is working as a force for good and ESG issues are at their heart. Therefore, certification is likely to become more desirable for all travel players and B Corp businesses may be the future trendsetters for sustainable travel.”

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