UK travel agents are being encouraged to sign up to The Travel Corporation’s Make Travel Matter pledge as globally the number reaches almost 7,000.

The pledge was launched by the TreadRight Foundation, a sustainable tourism initiative from TTC’s brands, which include Trafalgar, Uniworld, Insight Vacations and Contiki, and holidaymakers are also being urged to join it in making the pledge.

Shannon Guihan, who started as chief TreadRight and sustainability officer at the start of October, said the pledge aimed to help raise awareness of the importance of sustainability and travelling responsibly.

Speaking at World Travel Market 2019, she said: “The pledge is critical. It’s a way for agents to think about who they are booking with. It’s more of an holistic approach. It’s a simple commitment message and we’re asking agents to get on board.

“Having signed the pledge, it means you have read it and identified ways in which you can travel and are more cognisant of the overall impact of travel and importance of offsetting carbon emissions. We have launched the pledge to ask people to think about these things.”

Most of the agents who have signed up so far are based in the company’s US and Canada markets, where the pledge was first launched.

The pledge includes a commitment to refuse single use plastics where possible; recycle; offset travel; experience wildlife in nature; not ride animals or support animal cruelty and purchase locally-made items where possible and pay a fair price.

The TreadRight Foundation works across the group’s 42 brands and its 30 offices and is working on ways to reduce the company’s carbon footprint and all sustainable efforts in its brands and internally, including the reduction of single-use plastic and moving its offices to use solar or renewable sources of energy.

She said: “We have committed to carbon neutrality by 2050 but our preference is to make it happen sooner than that.

“It’s critical for us to understand how we do business and where we put our money and that it’s in light of what we are preaching. Agents need to understand we are not just paying lip-service to this issue.”

Most of the group’s trips offer an opportunity to visit more than 50 projects worldwide run by TreadRight. They include supporting elephant handlers and protecting animal welfare worldwide and setting up co-operatives in Jordan to help women become financially independent.