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Green ASTA


Going green. Everyone’s doing it and those who aren’t, want to know how they can.

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Ken Walsh, CTIE  Jun 04, 2008

Going green. Everyone’s doing it and those who aren’t, want to know how they can. Some companies are starting small by replacing their old light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs and switching off computers and printers at night, while other companies are undertaking much larger initiatives like purchasing carbon offsets when they purchase airline tickets and becoming a designated recycling center for their community. Regardless of how they decide to get involved, companies today understand the value of becoming more environmentally-friendly. ASTA also understands this and as part of its commitment to the environment and the travel community, it created the Green Member Program for travel professionals and companies.

ASTA saw how important the green movement was becoming, but realized that in terms of progressing the movement, American efforts weren’t up-to-par with Europe’s. European travelers have been demanding more green alternatives for quite some time now, while American tourists are just now starting to learn about their options and the importance of responsible travel. As the leading travel trade association, ASTA has a responsibility to bring the issue of responsible travel to the table and call on the industry to do more, especially within the United States.

When the Green Program was still in its developmental phase, ASTA repeatedly heard from its members that they wanted to go green, but they didn’t know where to start, while others were excited about the chance to do something good for the world their clients’ travel, but thought “going green” was synonymous with “costly and complicated.” With that in mind, ASTA’s program requirements and educational material are not only practical, but tailored for travel businesses of all sizes. ASTA’s Green Member Program consists of educational and promotional resources that enable travel agents and suppliers to increase their knowledge of travel’s impact on the environment and highlight to consumers their commitment to keeping travel an environmentally-friendly business.

Like so many other things, this program was born out of necessity. Long before the Green Member Program was unveiled, ASTA staff members created an internal task force to identify how much paper it was using each month, how efficient its recycling efforts were and how to implement small changes that would make a difference in the long run. ASTA was very aware that it must first be willing to do the things it would one day ask its members to do.

As a result, ASTA employees began using ceramic mugs instead of paper cups, requested larger recycling bins from the city, started donating dollars once a month to a fund that will plant dozens of trees by the end of the year, began shutting off all computers, printers and copiers each night, reusing paper for internal documents and some employees had the option of working from home on certain days to reduce ASTA’s carbon footprint. These changes were a step in the right direction and once staff members recognized that implementation was not only easy, but inexpensive, the idea to create a program for members seemed like the logical next step.

ASTA launched its new program at a press event on April 29 in New York. Travelport and the Avis Budget Group were announced as the official exclusive GDS global sponsor and the exclusive car rental category sponsor respectively. With the support of these companies, ASTA will be able to continue its research and deliver timely, beneficial materials to its members on a regular basis. These companies are committed to environmentally conscious travel and believe in the importance of educating the travel agent community about green travel.

The success of the green movement depends largely on what the travel community is able to accomplish. Travel is often blamed for crippling the environment and if travel professionals can prove that is not the case, the rest of the world will see that conservation and travel do go hand-in-hand. ASTA believes in its members and their ability to fully educate their clients and staff on the issue of responsible, green travel. While the Green Member program originated with ASTA, it will be the Green Members who are ultimately responsible for the success of the program.

So who are ASTA Green Members? It’s simple. Green Members are travel professionals who strive to further educate themselves and their clients about a more beneficial form of tourism and sell travel that will improve the environment, tourist destinations across the world and the lives of those who call those destinations home.

It's easy to become a Green Member. Once an agent or supplier has purchased ASTA’s electronic green report, he or she will fill out a self-assessment checklist and return it to ASTA. Once it has been determined that the travel professional’s business is in fact a green business, they receive use of the ASTA Green Logo, monthly green e-tips, a Green Checklist to assess travel suppliers, the ASTA Green Code of Ethics, a listing on Travelsense.org oriented to consumers, a listing on ASTA’s Business-to-Business search engine and eligibility to be nominated for ASTA’s Green Travel Agent awards. Although Green Members must first be members of ASTA, the option to purchase the Green Report only is available to non-members.

While “going green” might seem like a new trend, ASTA believes it’s crucial to environmental preservation and has thrown its weight behind increasing the validity of the movement. Raising awareness amongst travel professionals and consumers and educating them on the many ways travel can benefit the environment are ASTA’s main goals. To learn more about ASTA’s Green Member Program, please visit ASTA.org. For additional information, please contact ASTA’s Director of Research, Melissa Teates, at 703-739-8710.

Going green. Everyone’s doing it and those who aren’t, want to know how they can.



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