At CAS Trips, we believe that tourism can have a lasting positive impact on the communities and environments we travel to. To do this, though, we know that we need to measure, understand and communicate our economic, environmental, social, and governance performance through our sustainability report. We are then empowered to set goals and manage change more effectively.
Beyond noting these developments internally, we believe that sustainability reporting ensures we are accountable for our impacts on sustainability issues and enables us to be transparent about our risks and opportunities. We want to provide tangible, credible demonstrations of our level of sustainability. As such, we would like to share our efforts in this inaugural Sustainability Report 2021.
Sustainability is an ongoing journey
As we reflect on our actions over the past year, we intend this summary to serve as our benchmark. It includes both accomplishments and areas to improve. The past years have nurtured CAS Trips’ ability to take steps forward in our sustainability goals, and this sustainability report outlines our efforts to take responsibility for our programs online and in person.
With an enhanced sense of the importance of sustainability, we began by updating our mission statement. Here it is:
Inspired by the International Baccalaureate’s Creativity, Activity, and Service program, CAS Trips aims to make a genuine, sustainable impact through transformative cross-cultural experiences.
We recognize our responsibility as educators and seek to harness the power of experiential learning to inspire students while bringing long-term benefits to the communities and environments in which we operate.
Declarations and Partnerships in our Sustainability Report
In order to mobilize the vision outlined in our statement, we made some serious commitments to join others in advocating for change. In April 2021, we declared a climate emergency with Tourism Declares and became signatories of the Future of Tourism’s Guiding Principles. This supports our effort to collaborate within the industry to chart a new, more sustainable direction for tourism. We also became a launch partner and signatory of the Glasgow Declaration.
We committed to further developing plans to measure, decarbonize, regenerate, collaborate, and finance to cut our emissions in half over the next decade and to reach Net Zero emissions as soon as possible before 2050. We are also very excited to have joined Travelife for Tour Operators in order to manage our sustainability action planning and sustainability reporting. Finally, we are proud to share our first Responsible Travel Policy, which will be developed further alongside our future sustainability efforts.
Our Contribution to the UN SDGs and how we integrate them in Our Trips
The UN Sustainable Development Goals remain a guiding force in our efforts as an organization and in the programs we develop for students and educators around the globe. Since 2018, we have integrated the SDGs into our activities and provided our Trip Leaders with specific information regarding each activity. We aim to connect as many activities as we can to the goals, to showcase the variety of ways individuals can play a part in global change.
And of course, the keystone activity of every CAS Trip is the CAS Project Challenge, which follows a two-step process of identifying local issues (and their associated SDGs) before developing a collaborative action plan focused on 1 SDG of their choice.
Our Close To Home Trips
In addition to the variety of online programming that we have developed over the last two years, we have also sought ways to reintegrate the safe and sustainable travel opportunities that have always been our focus.
We are particularly proud of the variety of domestic Close To Home trips we hosted this year. To manage our social impact efforts in various novel destinations, CAS Trips developed several programs that we can offer anywhere. As part of these trips, we engaged in activities like the sustainable design challenge, nature cleanups, and greeting card donations—you can get a more detailed look at some of our environmental service initiatives here.
Our commitment to internal development
After enrolling in Travelife in 2021, we appointed a Sustainability Manager and began holding monthly team sustainability meetings. All staff took Travelife’s Sustainability Management training course and specific courses applicable to each individual’s tasks. By the end of 2021, the team collaborated on our initial Responsible Travel Policy, agreeing to commitments that felt feasible for all.
Employment contracts were updated to include clauses ensuring equal opportunity and guaranteeing the previously spoken agreement of flexible-time working schedules.
We are also eager to announce our commitments to volunteering with local communities beyond our trips by providing each staff member with four days annually to volunteer at a non-profit organization of their choice.
Looking towards the future
As we begin traveling again, this sustainability report acknowledges that it is time to look beyond the environment into sustainability of cultural and economic impacts of local communities. Our full report also contains a detailed Materiality Matrix, which we are working on with our stakeholders to determine how best to approach the complex variety of issues that need addressing.
We are also looking for ways to reward our partners for using sustainable options. So for 2022, we will be offering a Take The Train incentive of €100 discount for any group traveling more than 500km by train to their CAS Trips Destination.
We poured a lot of effort into our 2021 Sustainability Report, and there is much more in the full document found here. Creating the report was also a humbling experience and made us aware that we are continuously learning and growing. We are determined to be as transparent as possible throughout our sustainability journey.
If you would like to ask for further details or provide suggestions, we would love to hear from you! Thank you for supporting CAS Trips. We are eager to share our other successes as we challenge ourselves and the tourism industry to travel ever more responsibly.