Spearheading Sustainability in the Travel Industry

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Our client, Duke Alumni Travels, offers Duke alumni, family, and friends with enriching educational and cultural travel programs across the globe. In line with Duke University’s goal to become carbon neutral by 2024, Duke Alumni Travels is leading a sustainability movement by transforming how the educational travel industry approaches and measures its environmental impact. In the interest of its educational mission and institutional commitments to sustainability, our client is eager to inform travelers about its tour operators’ sustainability practices both at destinations and within their own operations. This Master’s Project (MP) Team was formed to 1) assess and report on the sustainability practices of Duke Alumni Travels’ tour operators and, 2) to provide recommendations on how to communicate these practices to Duke Alumni Travels’ travelers. With a focus on Environmental, Economic, and Socio-Cultural sustainability, the MP Team developed a framework to benchmark each of the operators’ sustainability practices. Our research has been complemented by opportunities to raise awareness around the need for improved travel practices. Over the year, the MP team has brought sustainability to the forefront of the educational travel industry by: hosting a Sustainable Travel Panel with industry leaders at NSOE (Oct. ‘19), and leading a Keynote Presentation about the project at the annual Educational Travel Consortium Conference (Feb. ‘20). The team’s findings will help the operators address their greatest environmental impact areas, as well as give way to future Master’s Projects.





Mercer, Annabelle, Courtney McCorstin and Samantha Burch (2020). Spearheading Sustainability in the Travel Industry. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/20513.

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