Travel agency credentials for ethical tourism examined in consumer report

Worldwide: UK-based alternative consumer organization Ethical Consumer has released the first-of-its-kind report assessing the ethical tourism and environmental credentials of travel booking platforms around the world.

Focusing on 29 companies through which travelers book their own accommodation and/or transport, the report was created to provide “trustworthy” information to consumers and encourage people to reconsider the way they travel in the future, including: by choosing more sustainable alternatives to flying.

Each company on the list started with a score of 14. Points could be deducted for failing to meet ethical standards in a range of categories. [e.g. setting precise targets to reduce environmental footprint, engagement in tax avoidance schemes etc]but points could also be added for those who implement positive environmental practices, such as maintaining nonprofit, B Corps, or charitable status.

Topping the charts are Bristol-based glamping company Canopy & Stars, which has been praised for its B Corp status and commitment to carbon management and reporting, and Italian ethical vacation rental website, a marketplace for “authentic, fair”. and conscious tourism”. also promises to donate 50% of its 15% commission to social projects selected by local residents.

Hostel accommodation charity YHA and online hostel guide Independent Hostels UK were also recommended alongside Canopy & Stars and as recommended sites for travelers wishing to book using ethical practices and durable.

However, global brands such as Expedia, TripAdvisor and Airbnb fared less well, ranking in the bottom ten on the list of ethical practices.

Airbnb ranked worst for excessive pay after a $120 million CEO compensation package was reportedly handed out in 2020, mostly in stock.

Meanwhile, travel agency TUI has been placed at the bottom of the overall list as it was deducted points for providing deportation flights to take migrants out of the UK. The report went on to allege that TUI was still selling tickets to parks that keep orcas in captivity, drawing criticism from animal rights activists.

Ruth Strange, lead researcher on the project, said The Guardian: “Companies talk about sustainability but it is difficult for those who do not know how to analyze them to know how much action is taken.”

Expressing shock that only three companies on the list were deemed to be taking reasonable steps to reduce their carbon footprint, Strange urged global booking brands to take the issue of ethical tourism more seriously and called on holidaymakers to “think differently and influence friends and family to make changes” in the way they now book travel.

Click on here to learn more about the Ethical Consumers report.

Emanuele dal Carlo, co-founder of, will participate in a ShortTermRentalz RockSTRz webinar on “The new era of smarter, sustainable and responsible tourism” on Tuesday, September 27 [4pm BST]. To learn more about sustainable and ethical tourism, register for the free session on this link.

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