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The UNESCO and Expedia Group partnership is the first collaboration between UNESCO and a global online travel agency. The partnership is focused on promoting sustainable tourism and heritage conservation through an industry-first Sustainable Tourism Pledge. The pilot phase of the project was launched in 2020 in Thailand in collaboration with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and has plans to go global.

The Pledge will enable businesses to take the Pledge via a dedicated website and share what they are already doing to support sustainable tourism and heritage conservation, as well as what they plan to do in the next 12 months.These commitments will be shared in a web-based database accessible to the public. Participating businesses will receive a ‘We signed the UNESCO Sustainable Tourism Pledge’ emblem, and will be required to renew their commitment every year and report on progress achieved.

The Pledge is designed to inspire and provide incentives to local tourism businesses in key destinations, such as coastal areas and World Heritage sites, to support sustainable tourism and safeguard heritage in line with the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals. “The reality is that everyone needs to play their part in protecting the planet and in protecting culture, and with 1.4 billion tourists crossing international borders last year alone, tourism has an impact,” said Ernesto Ottone R., UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture. “The Sustainable Tourism Pledge aims to turn words into action. This collaboration with Expedia Group and the pilot initiative for Thai tourism is about taking those steps to minimize waste in the tourism sector and promote the role of culture for sustainable development. This is good for the planet and for communities.”

“The Pledge demonstrates our joint commitment to promoting sustainable tourism and enhancing environmental consciousness across the travel industry", said Mr. Ang Choo Pin, Senior Director for Government and Corporate Affairs, Asia at Expedia Group. “In particular, we will collaborate closely with the hospitality sector to enhance environmental and sustainable tourism consciousness and practices across Thailand”.

In addition to the Sustainable Tourism Pledge, the Expedia partnership is supporting the expansion of the World Heritage Journeys Buddha platform to include a number of World Heritage sites in Thailand. The travel platform provides comprehensive and inspirational content curated by local experts, encouraging people to travel more sustainably and responsibly

Peter Debrine (p.debrine@unesco.org) Johanna Devine (UNESCO)