At the heart of this Sustainability Policy is Travel Connect’s mission to take active measures to protect the natural environment and minimise the negative impact tourism can have on our destinations.
We recognise that the natural environment of our destinations is our greatest asset. As the home of several travel brands, it is also fundamental to our continuous growth and viability that the environment is managed in a sustainable way.
Our ambition is to develop more responsible practices and use long-term thinking as a guiding principle in all aspects of our work.
We understand the impact that our operations may have. For that reason, we seek to pro-actively ensure that we are as locally sustainable as possible. This is to maintain biodiversity, avoid irreversible environmental changes and create value for the company itself, society, and the environment.
Within the Travel Connect group the travel agencies Terra Nova, Nordic Visitor and Iceland Travel are certified by Vakinn, the official quality and environmental certification for Icelandic tourism. These accolades confirm that these travel brands demonstrate professionalism and integrity when it comes to quality and environmental issues.
Travel Connect, along with its brands Nordic Visitor, Iceland Travel, Terra Nova, Iceland Tours, Iceland Unlimited and Nine Worlds, is also a member of Travelife. This is an internationally recognised training, management, and certification programme for sustainability in tourism. Travelife is recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
Travelife has a 3-stage approach, and Travel Connect is currently at the second stage, Travelife Partner. Travel Connect and its brands are the first in Iceland to have achieved this certification.
Now, we are working towards the third and final level, Travelife Certified, hoping to reach it in summer 2023. To reach Travelife Certified, we must meet further sustainability criteria grouped into 5 key areas: office operations, product development, working with suppliers, customer relations, and destinations.
The Travelife action planning tool will be used to regularly monitor and evaluate our progress towards sustainability. Our sustainability coordinator is accountable for monitoring our Sustainability Policy and continually reviewing it (as necessary).
In the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all member states of the United Nations (UN), 17 Sustainable Development Goals were introduced for the years 2016–2030. These goals focus on the 3 pillars of sustainable development: economy, society, and the environment.
Travel Connect wants to play its part in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. For that reason, our Sustainability Policy is based around the goals that are relevant to our operations.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals that apply to the environmental part of our Sustainability Policy are: 6) Clean water and sanitation, 7) Affordable and clean energy, 12) Responsible consumption and production, 13) Climate action, 14) Life below water, and 15) Life on land.
Responsible consumption and production (12)
Our aim is to reduce waste in all our operations by following the 3 Rs of waste management: reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Travel Connect reached a major milestone in the reduction of paper waste by implementing new processes. These include electronic accounting, electronic signatures, new procedures when creating travel documents and minimising printing as much as possible. To reduce the amount of paper we print for our clients, we have been printing itineraries double-sided and removing plastic from these packages.
The majority of the furniture for our offices, excluding office equipment, has been purchased from second-hand furniture stores.
We recycle paper, plastic, bottles, cans and aluminum at all of our offices.
At all offices, we purchase environmentally friendly cleaning products.
We offer employees reusable water glasses and coffee cups to reduce waste.
For office supplies, we support local businesses as much as possible. For example, our lunches are from local caterers and our printing services are provided by local businesses that operate in a sustainable manner.
Affordable and clean energy (7)
All the electricity and central heating used at our offices in Iceland is derived from renewable energy sources. In fact, most of the energy used in Iceland comes from renewable energy sources as follows: around 70% of electricity production comes from hydropower plants and 30% from geothermal energy, while 90% of central heating comes from geothermal energy and around 10% is produced from electricity.
Our office in Edinburgh purchases energy from SSE Energy Solutions which offers 100% sustainable energy derived from UK wind farms.
Our office in Stockholm uses energy derived from renewable energy sources: 50% from wind power and 50% from hydropower.
Clean water and sanitation, Climate action, Life below water & Life on Land (6, 13, 14 & 15)
The natural environment is our greatest resource and it is in our best interest, and those of our clients, to operate in a sustainable manner. This way we can protect the environment and the ecosystems in our destinations to maintain biodiversity, both on land and below water.
By operating sustainably and only working with operators who share our ideals, we can collectively limit our environmental impact and the environmental impact of our clients. This way we contribute to climate action and do our part when it comes to maintaining a clean and healthy environment.
Travel Connect is committed to adopt responsible practices and build trust through our communication with suppliers, local communities, and customers.
While working with partners, we give preference to suppliers with internationally or nationally acknowledged sustainability certifications. We also aim to support and work with local accommodation that are actively working on limiting their environmental impact.
In all our destinations, we encourage and guide visitors to treat the environment with care and respect. Our travel documents, like pre-arrival emails, include relevant information on responsible travel. This way our clients know how they can conserve the natural environment and wildlife, support local businesses and have a positive impact on the local population.
We have a designated sustainability committee, made up of 5 employees from different offices. This is to help us raise awareness of environmental issues among our staff.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals that apply to the social responsibility part of our Sustainability Policy are: 3) Good health and well-being, 4) Quality education, 5) Gender equality, and 8) Decent work and economic growth.
Travel Connect takes its responsibility towards our destinations, communities and environment very seriously and it stays at the core of our operations. Our social responsibility is to support and strengthen sustainable tourism in all the destinations where we operate and sell tours.
This way, we play an active part in promoting cultural diversity and a variety of jobs in local communities. We also work to strengthen the economy of urban as well as remote areas.
Good health and well-being (3)
Travel Connect understands the importance of work-life balance. For this, we created a policy which aims to increase the well-being and health of employees. Some successful examples include offering flexible working hours and gradually shortening the working days to 7 hours.
Our employees are the most valuable resource for Travel Connect and its brands. We put great emphasis on creating a welcoming, warm and equal atmosphere as well as a physically and emotionally safe environment for all.
Employees’ attitudes towards the company, their job and work environment are regularly surveyed. The results are always very positive, showing that our efforts to create a good working environment continue to be successful.
We treat all stakeholders with respect, whether they are partners, customers or local residents of our destinations. This is another reason why we like to ensure that our suppliers operate in a socially responsible way. We also aim to decrease the negative impact of travel while emphasising the positive impact that tourism can have on local communities.
Quality education (4)
Travel Connect is passionate about and dedicated to employee well-being, training and development. We worked strategically on our HR policy and educational plan to develop a skilled, ambitious and positive group of employees who are ready for anything. The results are clear: we have high job satisfaction, high employee engagement and highly skilled staff. This means improved efficiency and increased return on investment.
We grow through a culture of continuous improvement with a focus on work-life balance. These efforts include offering various lectures and training throughout the year, such as: destination training, energy management and stress management, positive attitude and emotions, breathing techniques, and reading weather and northern lights forecasts.
Gender equality (5)
Travel Connect’s equality policy is based on laws and regulations and equal rights for all. Our goal is for everyone to have equal opportunities and to be seen as a desirable place to work.
We provide an inclusive working environment where employees can balance their work and personal life. Opportunities are also created for all employees to develop and grow. This means that employees are appreciated as individuals, regardless of their gender (and other protected characteristics). All assessments are based solely on relevant experience, skills, education, and the employee’s ability to accomplish their tasks.
Our intention is to ensure equal status and equal rights for all genders. We accomplish this by basing decisions regarding remuneration, recruitment, working conditions, assignment of tasks, education and professional development on neutral and professional practices that are not affected by the gender of the employee in question.
To achieve our goals, we regularly measure progress in equality issues. This may include salary analysis, gender ratios and measuring employees’ attitudes towards gender equality at Travel Connect.
Tourism plays a fundamental role in many of our destinations’ economies and can impact their social and natural environments. This places even greater demands on Travel Connect to ensure a sustainable approach in all our operations.
Travel Connect only selects local suppliers that are fully insured, licensed and who uphold high standards of comfort and safety for our clients.
We continue to adopt responsible practices by fighting back against tourism leakage. This means that we buy from local suppliers and recommend local businesses, such as accommodation and restaurants. By doing this the revenue generated by tourists stays in the local communities.
The way we market tours includes taking steps to actively reduce the negative impact of tourism on the local and natural environment. This is integral to our business.
We are constantly developing products and processes to decrease the impact of travel on local environments and residents. We do this while highlighting the positive impact that tourism can have. Examples include encouraging visitors to shop locally and contribute to the regional economy.
Listening to local communities regarding environmental matters and the impact of tourists on their daily life is extremely important. This way we can react by educating our visitors on how best to preserve the local culture and natural environment. In turn, this helps support and improve the residents’ quality of life.
Travel Connect ensures that no marketing and promotional material contains misleading information and that we advertise only what we can deliver. Our staff are well trained on their specialist destinations and they offer only what we can deliver to our clients with ease.
At Travel Connect, we understand the constant need to improve. So, we know we can always do better when it comes to sustainability. For that reason, we are continuously working on making our operations more sustainable and easing our environmental impact.
Here are a few examples of goals we aim to complete in the next 2 years:
Educating all the guides we work with on sustainability issues. Our guides are in direct contact with our customers during their holiday, so they play a key role in informing and advising our customers on sustainable practices.
Increasing the amount of educational material in our travel documents to customers. These will include more information about how travellers can reduce their environmental impact while in our destinations.
Carbon offsetting our offices’ operations through tree planting exercises in Iceland, Sweden and Scotland.
Organising beach clean-up events with employees.
Reducing waste in our offices by 30%. This will be done through different approaches such as organising organic waste collection and purchasing rechargeable batteries.
For questions or comments about our Sustainability Policy, please contact our sustainability coordinator, Kristín Halldórsdóttir, at email@example.com.