It’s time to return to travel. The last two years have been humbling in many ways. As the pandemic altered nearly every aspect of our lives, we in the educational travel industry had to fundamentally rethink how we could continue to offer value to our students while supporting the local businesses and NGOs we partner with. The change in pace also gave us plenty of time to reflect on and plan how we could contribute to a brighter future, focusing on sustainability.
Two years in, with effective vaccines nearly universally available, the industry is steadily coming back to life— and we are currently processing the many ways in how we all think about movement has evolved. Throughout this experience, we at CAS Trips have recognized our responsibility as educators first and foremost and understand that we must lead by example by enacting positive change going forward. Our invigorated commitment to sustainability is at the heart of this.
We are very proud to have published our first Responsible Travel Policy to showcase what standards are most important to us. Focusing on the environment, society, and economy where we travel as well as how we operate internally. This document will continue to grow and develop as we do. Read our Travel Policy Here.Neil, Sustainability Manager at CAS Trips
We have always believed firmly that global impact happens with local actions, and we want to reflect this in our sustainability commitments. From striving to become carbon neutral to preserving local cultures and supporting local economies, we take sustainability seriously and are excited about the potential of responsible travel. Here are some of our takeaways regarding the ways travel has changed over the past two years and how it will inform our approach to sustainability.
The UN SDGs and CAS Trips
We continue to be inspired by and aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The pandemic has taught us, as a global society, that we do have the capacity to work together. We want to contribute to maintaining the momentum of this cohesion and see it directed towards the sustainability objectives critical for a bright future.
We firmly believe that if we are going to achieve the ambitious targets, this generation of students will lead us there. To play our part at CAS Trips, we have developed a unique methodology to utilize the SDGs to empower students to be that change throughout our trips.
In taking our dedication one step further, we have also outlined how our organization stays focused on the 17 goals. Our 17 Goals show how we are putting our statements into action. As we both reintroduce and expand the travel opportunities we offer, these targets will assist us in magic the most responsible decisions. Here are some of the ways we plan to do it:
Working with local NGOs and creating local community projects
There are so many wonderful organizations worldwide working to enact real change—and we are committed to finding and supporting them. For every CAS Trips Destination, we perform a comprehensive study of the critical issues affecting the residents. We pride ourselves in selecting the right organizations to collaborate with based on these findings. It is vital that all Service Challenges are of mutual benefit to both the student and community or organization being served.
We understand that, as well as educating CAS Trips students, it is equally important to give back, educate and develop the local communities we work with. In 2018 for example, we helped promote organic agriculture in El Carmen, Colombia, by building an organic garden and facilitating local school visits and community classes.
Our Close to Home program is also designed to be highly customizable and allow students to make a difference with the help of organizations in their home or nearby countries. By helping to build these relationships, we hope to facilitate more enduring participation that continues long after the trip has ended.
Inspiring global ambassadors
Since 2020, we have brought several student-led sustainability projects to life by donating over $8000 to charities, supporting them to implement the winning projects from our Virtual CAS Conference hackathon series. The pandemic also inspired us to devise new initiatives, such as the Waste Reduction Challenge, in addition to our ongoing Changemakers Challenge.
And as always, our CAS Project Challenge continues to provide a meaningful pathway of elevating the right voice to advocate for change. This year, some of our top submissions saw students tackling such sustainability issues as diverse as marine conservation, agriculture, and an eco-friendly solution for menstrual management products.
Supporting Cultural Preservation
The pandemic has caused us to appreciate the freedom to travel and learn from other cultures and people in a way like never before. This disruption has motivated us to look with fresh eyes upon the delicate task of preservation and how to carry forward the essential qualities of a place by fostering new interactions capable of honoring the past and creating new history.
One of the most potent things about preservation is its multitude of interrelated activities, including advocacy, policy, planning, design, research, stewardship, conservation, interpretation, and economic development. We see it as our duty not to contribute to over-tourism and protect vulnerable cultures, particularly in our work with the rural communities, homestays, and NGOs in Peru’s Sacred Valley as well as in Bhutan, Cambodia, Colombia, Galapagos, Thailand and Vietnam.
Responsible travel in 2022
We know there is still a lot of work to do. We remain optimistic and inspired by the outstanding students, teachers, support staff, organizations, and local partners that we have the opportunity to work with. The months ahead offer an opportunity to mobilize our commitments and be the change we want to see in the educational travel sector. This is just the beginning.
Stay tuned for more information about how we are putting sustainability at the center of the projects and trips we offer!