Fighting for Conservation through Sustainable Tourism

For three generations the Cousteau family has explored our great planet and used the power of film to share their passion for nature. Unearthing the mysteries lurking in the darkest depths of our oceans, the Cousteau’s have been instrumental not only in inspiring conservation and environmental movements, but also for connecting audiences to the world around them. Today, Céline Cousteau — daughter of Jean-Michel Cousteau and granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau — continues her family’s legacy as a TreadRight spokesperson and ambassador.

Established by The Travel Corporation in 2008, the TreadRight Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that encourages sustainable tourism by offering financial support to projects around the world. Utilizing The Travel Corporation family of brands — including Trafalgar Tours, Contiki Tours and Uniworld Boutique — TreadRight fights to protect the places, communities and heritage of the destinations they visit. In particular, the TreadRight Foundation concentrates its efforts through two main channels; the Wildlife Initiative and the Heritage Initiative.

As Ambassador, Céline Cousteau is helping TreadRight increase their exposure by putting her extraordinary storytelling talents to work. By sharing the inspiring efforts of TreadRight and their project partners, Cousteau emphasizes the importance of working together to preserve the things that matter most.

“The TreadRight Foundation really has defined its efforts in terms of its conservation based on the fact that it is a foundation for a Travel Corporation brand of families, and what is at stake is essentially the places that these companies bring guests to. So what is important is to protect the very things that we find inspiring,” said TreadRight Ambassador, Céline Cousteau.

The Wildlife Initiative looks to further TreadRight’s commitment to the future by protecting some of our planet’s most vulnerable species. As time goes by, poaching is becoming increasingly threatening to rare and endangered animals like sharks, rhinos and elephants. Every year 73 million sharks are killed for theirs fins and one elephant is killed every 15 minutes for its ivory. Even more alarmingly, 95% of rhinos have been wiped off the face of the earth due to poaching.

TreadRight is determined to stopping wildlife crime by supporting leading organizations like the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT). Contributions from TreadRight and Travel Corporation brand, Lion World, aid EWT in its care for orphaned baby rhinos, poaching and smuggling deterrent efforts using trained sniffer dogs, delivering of rhino conservation resource materials and support for landowners and reserve managers. TreadRight has even purchased a helicopter to enable land surveys and anti-poaching patrolling.

“It’s not just money towards administration and operation of local organizations. It really is going into facilitating the real tangible action that people on the ground need to take in order to protect these animals. It’s a very difficult thing to do despite the size of these animals, the territory in which they roam and the way in which poachers operate is really quite complex. That’s been part of it and we are now in discussion of extending out of just rhinos and elephants into other animals…,” explained Cousteau.

The TreadRight Heritage Initiative on the other hand is dedicated to ensuring future generations have the opportunity to experience the cultural diversity this world has to offer. This is done by promoting sustainable tourism as a means to achieve economic growth and regeneration.
Hundreds of thousands of people in the developing world support their families by working in the artisan sector. In fact, behind agriculture, artisan activity is the second largest employer in the developing world. Unfortunately, Artisan enterprise is not generally considered a key driver of economic growth; consequently it is not a major component of development assistance efforts.

The TreadRight Heritage Initiative seeks to change this by lending its support to the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, an initiative launched by Hilary Clinton. Through this partnership, TreadRight has created a small grants program for artisan enterprises. It is hoped these grants will not only benefit these communities economically but will also support ancient cultural traditions and preserve the diversity of people and cultures.
“We have to think the idea of artisans and the work that they do is about linage, it is about heritage. Unfortunately with the fast paced world of today and growing ecommerce and cheap goods, it’s more and more difficult for these artisans and these smaller groups to get their wares out and be able to actually do more than survive,” said Cousteau.

Last summer, Cousteau went to film TreadRight’s Perugia artisans’ project, Laboratorio Giuditta Brozzetti in Italy’s Umbria region. There she met Marta, a fourth generation weaver who is keeping one of the region’s oldest artisan traditions alive. Located inside the stunning Church of San Francesco delle Donne, The Giuditta Brozzetti Cooperative is one of the few remaining traditional frame hand-weaving workshops in Italy.
Due to the high-cost of making the textiles, it is difficult for Marta to make a living on her craft. However, thanks to TreadRight’s Heritage Initiative, the Giuditta Brozzetti Cooperative has been able to build e-commerce capabilities to increase online sales. In addition, next year guests of Trafalgar and Insight Vacations will have the opportunity to visit the Laboratorio Giuditta Brozzetti and buy her products first-hand.
“These are one-of-a-kind, unique pieces and I think that to be able to value that and this notion that this cultural heritage through artisans is something that we can all support. We travel to these incredible places. Well, what are these places about? They are about history and culture and to be able to give back to that is really important.”

To date, TreadRight has helped support more than 35 sustainable tourism projects worldwide. Using tourism as a tool for change, TreadRight is empowering artisans around the world, preserving heritage for future generations and fighting to stop wildlife crime. Be a part of the solution. Choose you travel companies wisely and see what kind of local initiative they support.