ASTA's Green Program Gains Traction

ASTA has staked out a strong claim to be a leader among travel associations for its Green Program for Travel Agents. Launched in the summer of 2008, the program has grown and now includes a compressive, plain language Green Guide to assist ASTA members to understand green travel concepts and terminology. The complete program includes a Green Agent logo, newsletters and a continuing education component.

The ASTA Green Program is an education and self-assessment program for travel agents
and travel suppliers. The core of the program is the Green Guide. The guide provides an
overview of green travel as well as sections on terminology, marketing sustainable travel,
and green resources.

Key statistics offered by ASTA: Travelers inclined to select travel companies that protect and preserve a destination's environment - 60.8 million; Travelers who would pay more to use these companies - 58.5 million and Americans classified as "sustainable tourists" or "Geotourists" - 55.1 million (Source: Geotourism: The New Trend In Travel, Travel Industry Association of America)

The guide has a large section on how to operate in a more sustainable manner and it includes a self-assessment tool for internal operations. For travel agents, there is a section on assessing suppliers’ environmental policies when planning a sustainable trip for a client. For suppliers, there is a section on actions they can take to make their products more sustainable.

Those travel agent and supplier members who purchase the Green Guide can go a step
further and become ASTA Green Members. To become a Green Member, they must read
the guide, complete the self-assessment, sign-off on ASTA’s Green Code of Ethics, and
complete the application. The advantage of the Green Membership is continuous
education through a monthly e-newsletter and copies of any Green Guide updates.

“We hope the enticement of continuous education in green travel will persuade members to follow-through on the self-assessment and set goals for reducing their usage of energy,
water and other materials. Green Members can also use our ASTA Green logo to show
their commitment to improving the sustainability of their operations and becoming
educated on green travel options. Non-members may purchase the Green Guide, but
cannot become an ASTA Green Member,” ASTA says.

“As we grow the program and become more sophisticated as an industry we expect the
program to evolve beyond sustainability to fully embrace all three components of social
responsibility: environment, economics, and socio-cultural. Over time, materials will be
added to the Green Guide to reflect that expansion as well as to reflect changes in
sustainable travel and business operations,” ASTA says.

“ASTA believes it is important for all travel agents to understand the basics about green
business operations and how to promote and plan sustainable travel. As more consumers
become environmentally-conscious, agents will be getting more questions about how to
travel green and should be ready to answer them.”

The Green Membership for Travel Agent Members includes an educational ASTA Green Report, monthly eTips email and a logo. Agencies that complete the requirements receive the right to use the Green Member logo for one year. Green Members must renew annually to remain a green member, which is necessary to use the logo and receive the monthly eTips and updated versions of the ASTA Green Report.  

Benefits for Travel Agent Participation (the cost to participate is $49) include the ability tto position the agency as a friend of the environment. Agents can learn about the needs of the green travel market, promotion of the agency’s green commitment to consumers, stay informed on the latest environmental travel initiatives an use of the ASTA Green logo on your web site and promotional literature.

ASTA also has an Allied Green Members category that like member agents “recognize that the fight against global warming will be of critical importance to the 21st century, including the future of world tourism.” The Code of Ethics includes a commitment to recognize our responsibility to implement measures to diminish our own carbon footprint, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, conserve energy, reduce waste and recycle whenever possible.

ASTA’s Green Program is sponsored by the following organizations:  Global Sponsor – Travelport. Industry Green Leader - Avis/Budget Group. Rail Sponsor – Amtrak.
Green Supporter - American Cruise Lines.  Most recently Marriott became a sponsor.

ASTA also has dedicated Green Project manager, Melissa Teates, ASTA’s director of Research. ASTA’s president and Chair Chris Russo is also an ASTA Green Member.

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