Guy A. Young is president of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, headquartered in Los Angeles, offering cruise itineraries in Europe, China, India and other destinations. In this shakedown, we asked Guy about the state of sustainable cruising in our industry and what initiatives Uniworld is taking to meet these efforts. Here’s what he had to say.
Cruise ships have been singled out for their especially deleterious effects on the environment. Do you think sustainability and social responsibility are something that the cruise industry, in particular among travel industry sectors, should take a leading role?
Given the high visibility for cruising, we definitely think it’s important for the industry to take a leading role in sustainability and social responsibility. In the river cruise sector, Uniworld has definitely taken a leading role in this regard.
What are some of examples of this leadership?
We partner with the TreadRight Foundation, a the not-for-profit organization of The Travel Corporation’s family of brands, to support sustainable tourism efforts around the world. And since 2013, we have been working with The Travel Foundation, which is an independent charity working to ensure that tourism benefits both the people and the environment in which we travel, to develop the first of its kind environmental sustainability river cruising guide. Based on our findings for this guide, we implemented a number of environmental and sustainability practices onboard our ships and in the destinations that we operate. This river cruising guide was also made available to anybody operating on the rivers.
By introducing our guests to these local, sustainable ventures, like organic wineries along our routes, we are able to provide truly unique experiences to travelers while bringing economic opportunity to the region.
More recently, we implemented a partnership with Whole World Water with the goal of providing safe drinking water to the many people around the world who currently don’t have access to this valuable resource. To participate in program, we had to eliminate plastic bottles onboard our ships and make a financial contribution to Whole World Water. We also have a number of initiatives underway in Southeast Asia, including supporting an orphanage in Vietnam, and we are looking at other destinations to do even more.
What role does sustainability play within your organization?
Our company-wide efforts to make a positive difference in the world are based upon the three pillars of environmental, social and economic responsibility. I’ve already mentioned some of the environmental and social initiatives we’ve established. On the economic front, we try to support local businesses. By introducing our guests to these local, sustainable ventures, like organic wineries along our routes, we are able to provide truly unique experiences to travelers while bringing economic opportunity to the region.