Building a Standard for Sustainable Tourism

Good morning, Eamon Barrett here, filling in for Alan. Today’s CEO Daily is a crossover episode.

On Tuesdays I write a Fortune newsletter on sustainability in business called The Loop where, this week, I focused on revolutions in air travel. Today, here at the Fortune Global Tech Forum in Guangzhou, Alan interviewed Booking.com chairwoman Gillian Tans on stage, and discussed, among other things, the future of sustainable tourism. So the theme continues.

“Let’s go back to the mission of Booking.com,” Tans said during the forum’s opening session today. “The mission is really to help people experience the world. Very early on, when we defined this mission, we said we also need to make sure we make the world a place where generations to come can keep exploring the world.”

Tans says the demand for sustainable tourism is there—71% of consumers surveyed by the travel company said they want eco-friendly options—but, as is often the problem with promoting “sustainable” products, there’s no real standard on what that means.

Here, Booking.com is leading the charge. In September the travel site teamed up with the charity organization run by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex—better known as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle—to launch Travalyst.

Travalyst—a portmanteau of travel and catalyst—is a platform dedicated to promoting eco-tourism, that brings together the world’s leading online travel agents (OTAs) including Ctrip, Tripadvisor and Booking.com.

Together, the group should be able to forge some consensus on sustainable travel. However, Travalyst has been criticized for offering few details on how the group will actually promote sustainability. Alan pointed out on stage that air travel is responsible for the majority of tourism-related carbon emissions and Booking.com can’t do much to stop that.

“There’s a lot happening in air travel,” Tans said. “But for Booking that would be more complicated [to manage] because we don’t operate airplanes.” For now, Tans is more focused on developing Booking.com’s A.I. capabilities, which will help streamline customer service and take the hassle out of travel.

You can catch up on all of the Global Tech Forum through Fortune’s online coverage of the event here. Alan returns Monday.

More below.

Eamon Barrett
@EamonBarrett49
eamon.barrett@fortune.com