Bunting at the ready? We’re proud, exhilarated, a tiny bit exhausted and generally in celebratory mood at STC Expeditions this month. Here's why...
For the last few weeks, at STC Expeditions we’ve been feeling a bond with all the students currently gritting their teeth, testing their nerves and generally slogging their way through exam season. Why? Because we recently sat our own form of exam, completing a very gruelling assessment to see if we come up to scratch with the best of the best in the travel industry. And phew (cue marching bands, fluttering flags, popping corks, etc, etc) we did it! We’re now very, very proud to be able to announce that we’re Travelife Certified. That means we’ve attained the highest possible level of sustainability in travel – and we’ve got the certificate to prove it!
And, what's more, we're the only ones in the UK to have it.
But why should you care? Well, let me tell you:
- Travelife is an internationally recognised certification scheme dedicated to promoting and achieving sustainable practices in the tourism industry.
- We’re the ONLY travel company in the UK to have reached certification level, and one of just 87 worldwide.
- Certification recognises sustained, long-term commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility.
- To become certified, we had to meet over 200 separate criteria. These covered everything from carbon offsetting, over-tourism and support for our STC in-country Leaders to customer communication and sustainable purchasing. Even the tea we drink and the paper we print on was given the once over.
- Travelife standards of corporate social responsibility scrutinise labour conditions, human rights, environmental impact, biodiversity and fair business practices.
For STC Expeditions, this is a REALLY big deal. It’s great to have our efforts recognised, but more than that, it galvanises us to continue having conversations with teachers and students, our peers in the travel community and our suppliers about how we can take further strides to ensure travel can be fun, sustainable and fair for everyone involved.
Rachel McCaffery, Lead Auditor for Travelife said:
“STC is a business with sustainability at its core and as such, is acting as a much needed disrupter… The staff team is small and is clearly made up of like-minded individuals who support the company’s ethical stance… Considerable care and attention to detail is paid to ensuring that, in particular, their operations overseas educate participants, benefit local communities and do not cause environmental damage… The fact that it is also seen as a key business driver means that the sustainability ethos should itself be sustainable long term.”
This is all great news, obviously. But we're by no means 'done'. For us, this is very much another (but admittedly big) step forward on our crusade to bring about change in the educational travel sector. In working with schools, we have a unique and amazing opportunity to educate the next generation. What a legacy it would be to not only show young people the world and the benefits of an adventurous life, but also to show them how to travel responsibly and ethically and set them on the right path for the lifetime of travel that lies ahead of them.
I can't finish this blog without saying a few words about the team here at STC Expeditions. Responsible and ethical travel doesn't just 'happen'. It takes time, effort, hard graft and dedication, so a big thank you to the whole STC Expeditions team who have supported me in this vision and made it happen. Go Team STC!