Follow the Camino’s Journey to More Sustainable Travel with DGB Group

a picture of a path

Is sustainable travel possible when tourism contributes to approximately 8% of global carbon emissions? Travel companies can certainly take steps towards addressing climate change issues through campaigning for ‘slow travel’ practices and carbon offsetting. While Follow the Camino promotes the first, our recent strategic alliance with carbon project developer DGB Group will help us on our journey to greater carbon efficiency.

Follow the Camino’s Sustainability Advisor, María Lihué Tula, shared her thoughts on sustainable travel and tourism, and how our DGB Group partnership is reducing the carbon footprint of customers and staff.

Woman walking the Camino in Asturias

Tell us about Follow the Camino and why sustainable travel is crucial to your company?

Follow the Camino is a travel company with a strong presence in Spain and Ireland, and a successful track record dating back to 2006. Our company has established itself as a leading travel company facilitating journeys along the Camino de Santiago, Spain’s iconic pilgrimage route.

Recognising that tourism contributes massively to carbon emissions, we understand the pressing need for the industry to address this environmental challenge. Follow the Camino is committed to playing a vital role in this effort. We acknowledge the responsibility of travel companies and pledge to reduce our carbon footprint across the value chain, striving for sustainability, and supporting global carbon emissions reduction.

Lihué, what sustainability targets have Follow the Camino set?

One of our most robust targets is our priority to work with suppliers, including hotels and transfer services, committed to sustainability. Beginning in 2025, Follow the Camino will give preference to partners that have action plans aligned with the principles of the Paris Agreement or hold recognised sustainability credentials.

We firmly believe that sustainable travel companies can only make that claim if they are aware of the environmental practices of its suppliers. For that reason, decisive steps should be taken to ensure transparency and accountability throughout the supply chain.

Companies are not alone in this effort, and the heart of our measures is to help reframe how sustainability issues are managed. For this reason, we are developing initiatives to encourage our partners to develop sustainability plans in a collaborative way.

the Nonaya waterfall in Asturias

How are you working towards achieving these sustainability targets?

Follow the Camino is taking a multifaceted approach. To help our suppliers on that transition, we will launch initiatives in collaboration with other companies this year, focusing on two key aspects of our sustainable tourism policy: water and food.

Through these partnerships, we aim to support hotels transitioning to more sustainable practices, promoting proposals aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Furthermore, we recognise the importance of engaging not only our existing customers but also potential customers in our sustainability efforts. In Ireland, we organise monthly hikes, with proceeds donated entirely to charities. We limit the number of participants to adhere to the ‘leave no trace’ principle, share sustainable travel tips and we encourage participants to adopt environmentally friendly practices. We hope these patterns of behaviour continue when using our services for the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.

Follow the Camino’s travel professionals work across all corners of the globe. Since 2023, we’ve initiated a voluntary campaign to measure each individual’s carbon footprint, revealing that approximately 80% of emissions stem from our employees’ personal holiday travel.

In response, we’ve introduced a ‘slow travel’ policy, incentivising employees to opt for more environmentally friendly modes of transport. Those who do receive an additional day of holiday, acknowledging the carbon reduction achieved through their choice. By fostering a culture of sustainability, we aim to amplify our impact far beyond our immediate operations.

Camino Frances Logrono to Burgos

Why focus on compensating for Scope 3 emissions, Lihué?

Compensating for Scope 3 emissions is crucial because it allows us to address a significant portion of our overall carbon footprint. While we recognise the challenges associated with managing these emissions, it’s essential to our commitment to sustainability and our goal of achieving net-zero emissions.

Through initiatives like the ‘slow travel’ policy and other measures that involve stakeholders such as potential clients, clients, hotels, restaurants, and transportation partners, we have the opportunity to inspire positive change and contribute to a future for our planet that can include sustainable international travel.

Can you share more about your collaboration with DGB Group and the choice of the Hongera Energy Efficient Cookstoves Project?

We were drawn to DGB’s compelling proposal for the Hongera Energy Efficient Cookstoves Project in Kenya, a project that resonated with our values and goals. When presented to our employees for consideration, it received resounding support, emerging as the top choice by a significant majority.

Our decision to collaborate with DGB Group reflects our commitment to meaningful impact. Beyond merely compensating for carbon emissions, this partnership allows us to actively engage in a social project, making a tangible difference in the lives of individuals and communities. We are excited to be part of this initiative, contributing not only to environmental sustainability but also to positive social change.

Lihué, what does this commitment to sustainable travel mean for Follow the Camino?

In our pursuit of sustainability, we understand that lasting change requires steadfast dedication over time. Our commitment is not just to the present but to the future generations who will inherit the world we shape today. As we embark on this journey, we recognize the importance of investing in projects that yield tangible results, both for the environment and for our stakeholders, in the short to long term.

While we embrace the long-term vision of sustainability, we also acknowledge the need for immediate action and visible impact. It’s part of our social responsibility to demonstrating how to travel sustainably.

Hence, in selecting a carbon offset project, we prioritise initiatives that deliver measurable outcomes swiftly. This approach not only instils confidence within our organisation but also inspires others to join us in our quest for a greener, more sustainable world.

To learn more about our sustainability initiatives and the actions we’re taking to reduce our environmental footprint, you can explore our dedicated sustainability webpage.

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