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Accor and Expedia Group join forces to expand UNESCO sustainability pledge into 96 countries

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3,358 hotels join the drive to champion sustainable practices as environmental consciousness amongst travellers increases.

LONDON and PARIS - Expedia Group, the global travel platform and Accor, a world leading hospitality group, in conjunction with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), are joining forces to further extend the UNESCO Sustainable Tourism Pledge. This strategic tripartite agreement will see 3,358 global Accor hotels join together to promote environmental sustainability and sustainable tourism worldwide.

The UNESCO Sustainable Tourism Pledge promotes responsible practices, community resilience and heritage conservation, with the ultimate goal of changing the nature and impact of global tourism. Under The Pledge, parties commit to supporting the reduction and elimination of single-use plastics and promoting local economy and culture.

The Pledge launched in October 2019 with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, UNESCO and Expedia Group. Accor’s hotels join over 500 hotels in Thailand that have signed The Pledge since the Thai microsite was established in 2020.

The expansion of The Pledge comes at a time when travellers’ awareness of and demand for tourism sustainability practices continues to grow, with Millennials and GenZ taking the lead with heightened environmental consciousness. Importantly, these young travellers (up to age 40) share heightened concerns over the environmental impact caused by travel when choosing a future trip, which might be attributed to the aftermath caused by COVID-19.1 With Accor joining this Expedia Group and UNESCO initiative, The Pledge extends to almost 100 countries promoting sustainable tourism globally. 

Markus Keller, SVP Sales & Distribution from Accor said, “We have a responsibility to offer sustainable and tangible solutions to our guests to reduce the impact the hospitality sector has on the environment. Accor and all of the hotels in its network have long-standing commitments in this area, for our decision to remove all single-use plastic items from guest experience in our hotels by 2022. We want to accelerate our efforts, which is why we are today joining the UNESCO Sustainable Tourism Pledge in partnership with Expedia Group.

Our ambition is to continue to drive the change towards positive hospitality wherever we are. Joining The Pledge with 3,358 of our hotels is a continuation of our group’s sustainable development program “Planet 21 - Acting Here” which sets concrete and quantitative objectives relating to local sourcing, diversity and water, energy and waste management. Planet 21 was launched in 2011 and is based around four strategic priorities: work with our employees, involve our guests, innovate with our partners and work with local communities; two key issues are tackling food and building sustainability. We look forward to working with our partners on this new Pledge.”

Hotels can be examples of outstanding green practices and forces for positive change in the community. All it takes is to start with a few simple commitments.

“The UNESCO Sustainable Tourism Pledge aims to turn words into action and is a testimony of our growing commitment to collaborating closely with the hospitality sector in order to enhance environmental and sustainable tourism consciousness and practices across the world. Everyone needs to play their part in promoting sustainable tourism and helping preserve travel destinations. This partnership with Accor is about taking needed steps at a global scale to minimize waste in the tourism sector,” said Zuhairah Washington, Senior Vice President, Strategic Accounts, Expedia Group.

UNESCO also announces today that the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development has provided 2 million euros in support for UNESCO to help expand the Pledge across seven countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Georgia, Indonesia, Kenya, Namibia and Vietnam). The programme will help UNESCO’s work to make tourism emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis and encourage sustainable development in the sector.

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay commented, “The collective effort is all the more crucial as the pandemic has hit the tourism and culture sectors hard. We hope that the efforts of Germany, Accor and Expedia, will encourage other major players in the sector to join us and invest to offer more responsible tourism.”

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