Sustainability is increasingly important in the world we live in and the countries and cities we travel to. Many of the destinations we visit on assignment, including Canada and the UK as well as the City of Sydney where many ASTW members live, have now declared a “climate emergency”. (As of September 2019, more than 1000 local governments in 20 countries, representing more than 260 million citizens, have declared a “climate emergency”. Source: climateemergencydeclaration.org)

The ASTW, representing Australia’s leading travel media professionals, recognises that it has a key role to play and a responsibility to lead the way in terms of low-impact travel – because we travel more than most people and because we’re in the business of promoting and encouraging others to travel.

kayaking is in Croatia

Kayaking in Croatia. Photo: Louise Southerden.

We are committed to inspiring all our members as well as the general public and all the businesses we come into contact with, to operate as sustainably as possible.

We are also committed to doing all we can to reduce the environmental impact of all our member events, from lunches and workshops to trivia nights and our annual convention and awards night.

whitsundays heart reef

What the ASTW is doing

  • Our Sustainability Sub-Committee is the first point of contact for ASTW members regarding sustainability and reports to the ASTW Committee. Members are welcome to get in touch with ideas, comments or feedback. See email addresses below.
  • The ASTW offsets all ASTW-related committee members’ flights such as to interstate committee meetings
  • In 2019, the long-running Best Responsible Tourism Story award was joined by a new sustainability award for PR members: the Award for Responsible and Sustainable Travel Practices
  • Delegates attending the 2019 Convention were encouraged to offset their flights to the event by a prize draw, only open to members with carbon offset receipts. Prizes included stays at sustainable properties such as Lizard Island Resort on the Great Barrier Reef
  • Sustainability has been a priority at the last few ASTW Conventions and for the 2019 event in Cairns we stepped it up by developing Nine Sustainability Guidelines to encourage members, hosts and event sponsors to be more sustainable during the three-day event (see below)
  • Our Pro Tips blog on this website includes posts about sustainability such as 15 ways to travel more sustainably on famils
  • As of September 2019, the Convention Tender document sent to potential hosts includes a section on the ASTW’s Sustainability Guidelines to ensure future events are run as sustainably as possible.

Nine sustainability actions implemented at the 2019 Convention in Cairns

  1. Pre-trip checklist. In the pre-conference welcome pack and on Facebook, all delegates were asked to please bring to the Convention their own: reusable water bottles, coffee cups, lanyards, notebooks and pens, and toiletries (unless host hotels all have refillable bottles).
  1. No plastic, please. Sponsors and PR members were asked not to give delegates any plastic items, plastic-wrapped items or plastic bags, or anything else likely to end up as landfill, as promotional gifts. Local produce and biodegradable gifts made from wood or paper make great alternatives.
  2. Spreading the word. Delegates were encouraged to promote the sustainability initiatives of our hosts – including tour operators and regional tourism organisations on pre- and post-AGM famils and event sponsors – on social media and to share their “sustainability hacks” – tips or things members have done to reduce their impact at the convention.
  3. Site visit. The extent to which our event is sustainable depends to a large extent on the host venue(s) and what is possible for them, which is why Justine White, the ASTW Secretariat, did a site inspection well before the event to check we were all on the same sustainability page.
  4. Plastic-free events. The ASTW is committed to helping our hosts make all the events within the convention – such as meetings, workshops, the welcome function and dinners – as plastic-free as possible. Suggestions have included: providing water jugs and glassware or filtered water in conference rooms; avoiding single-use coffee cups, plates and cutlery; and not supplying mints or other plastic-wrapped snacks on conference tables or in hotel rooms.
  5. Food: We encourage our hosts to always offer plant-based menu options and where possible to provide food that is local, seasonal and/or organic.
  6. Green famils. We urged event partners to apply a plastic-free and zero-waste ethos to pre- and post-convention famils and activities as well as the main event.
  7. Give back. We looked for ways the convention could benefit local communities (apart from our annual donation) – such as by using locally made products or locally grown foods. See how the ASTW gives back.
  8. Seek feedback. Members were invited to give post-convention feedback on how sustainable Cairns 2019 was and how we can improve in 2020 – through a Facebook post on the ASTW members page and asking members to contact someone on the Sustainability Sub-Committee with their comments.

Sustainability Sub-Committee

Justine Costigan (justinecostigan@gmail.com)

Louise Southerden (lousouth@hotmail.com)

Aleney de Winter (aleney@smallworldmedia.com)

Please get in touch with the sub-committee at the email addresses above, or via Messenger on Facebook, with any ideas, suggestions or feedback. Our aim is to help make the ASTW and its events more sustainable and as plastic-free, zero-waste and low-impact as possible.