How can a tour operator be “responsible”? Terres d’Aventure explains its business model

Jad Haddad, General Manager of Terres d’Aventure Canada & Karavaniers

Special file. At the question ” can travel really be sustainable and responsible? », the tour operator Terres d’Aventure Canada & Karavaniers responds « absoutely! “. Open Jaw Quebec welcomes the general manager, Jad Haddad, for an interview.

Open Jaw Quebec : What is the first step to achieve this?

Jad Haddad : For tourism to be sustainable, its industry must first be sustainable. It starts with better paid employees and better working conditions. Then, you have to put this on the table: the travel consultant is not a reservation agent. He is a travel designer. For us, it is the motivation of our team members.

OJQ : Do you believe that tourism can really be sustainable and responsible?

JH : Absoutely! But we must not put our heads in the sand: our domain has an environmental impact. We are working to reduce this impact on the environment but we do not hide it: there is one.

Now, if we decide to pursue our mission to travel, well, we have choices to make. It’s like having a car: you have the choice of driving a petrol, hybrid or electric car. It is in this perspective that we position ourselves at Terres d’Aventure.

Source: Lands of Adventure

OJQ : How to make your client travel while reducing his impact on the environment, is that the idea?

JH : More specifically, we must ensure that there is a reduction in the impact, and compensation. They are two distinct elements, and it is important to distinguish them. With us, for example, all trips are 100% compensated, so the land portion and the air portion. The travel of our employees is also compensated.

OJQ : How do you do?

JH : We have created a business model based on profitability, environmental values, recognition of our responsibilities and concrete actions. And what we say, we do. And our marketing strategy is as follows: if we promote an action, it means that we have already implemented it.

Also, we work with organizations established almost everywhere on the planet and whose mission is to find and apply solutions to reduce the impact of our activities on the environment. We buy carbon credits and this is part of the compensation component. We have done exhaustive research on the subject and the projects in which we are involved are Gold Standard certified, the highest qualification for carbon credits.

Also, we have a carbon calculator per destination and we donate 1% of our turnover to One Percent For The Planet.

OJQ : Is this approach recent?

JH : We have been working this way for 10 years.

OJQ : And the reduction component? How do you do it?

JH : Concretely, for the reduction of our environmental impact, we identify 3 important points: organize longer trips, plan less stopovers during air travel and reduce the impact at destination.

This last point is part of the “leave no trace” concept and takes into consideration the management of water, waste and the type of local transport that we use. We then work with our destination teams to ensure these points are taken into consideration.

Open Jaw Quebec : Is it difficult for you to find partners, at destination, which are on the same momentum as Terres d’Aventure? And which have responsible practices that match your goals?

Jad Haddad : No. We first explain it by the fact that we work with long-standing partners and we have local teams. Also, when a member of our team goes to their destination for training or scouting, verifying responsible practices on site is part of the mission. For example, we observe how waste management is done during a trek in the desert.

Our destination partners are enthusiastic and adhere to our will, and in particular for this reason: our guides and our local teams are in love with nature and their part of the country. They are already raising people’s awareness because they see firsthand the importance of preserving the environment. They are the first to want to still have a job in the future and to want the industry in their part of the country to remain healthy.

OJQ : Do you consider that, in terms of awareness, you evolve in a privileged field, that of the outdoors?

JH : I would say that awareness is not only found in our field of adventure tourism. It is also found in other areas of our industry. Many people who do not work in adventure tourism are also extremely responsible and have initiatives similar to ours. It’s more a matter of company values ​​and brand positioning. Better: it is a marriage of the two.

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