In a remarkable move towards sustainable tourism and environmental stewardship, Agoda, a leading global digital travel platform, has announced a groundbreaking expansion of its Eco Deals Program. This initiative, launched at the esteemed ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF), not only marks a significant step in the company’s commitment to conservation but also heralds a new era of public-private partnerships in the travel industry.
The latest edition of Agoda’s Eco Deals Program was announced with fanfare at the ATF and entails a substantial collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The partnership, a beacon of hope for environmentalists, is set to receive a four-fold increase in its funding from Agoda, amounting to a whopping USD 1 million. This fund supports conservation efforts spearheaded by local WWF offices across eight Southeast Asian countries, including ATF host Lao PDR, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Agoda’s CEO Omri Morgenshtern and Elizabeth Clarke, WWF-Singapore’s Director of Conservation, outlined the enhanced vision and goals for the partnership at a luncheon graced by ASEAN Tourism Ministers and the Secretary-General of ASEAN. The luncheon, an integral part of the ATF’s official agenda, also saw the participation of representatives from ASEAN National Tourism Organizations and ASEAN Dialogue Partners.
The program, set to run from 3 March 2024 to 3 December 2024, operates on a simple yet effective mechanism. For every hotel booking made on participating hotels, Agoda will donate USD $1. These funds are earmarked for various conservation projects, including marine, forest, and wildlife preservation. Among the notable initiatives are the protection of Tigers in Malaysia, Whale Sharks in the Philippines, and Elephants in Thailand. The other projects include the conservation of Saolas in Vietnam, ecosystem restoration in Indonesia, ranger support in Cambodia, and improving urban wetlands in Lao PDR.
Enric Casals, Regional Vice President of Southeast Asia at Agoda, highlighted the program as a crucial cause-related marketing initiative. He emphasized its ease of participation for hotel partners and its significant contribution to broader environmental and community benefits. This year’s expansion offers hoteliers even more opportunities to be involved in meaningful conservation work.
The Eco Deals Program also presents a unique opportunity for accommodation partners to offer up to 15% discounts. In return, these partners gain increased visibility and bookings through Agoda’s various marketing channels, including social media, banner promotions, and customer emails.
Omri Morgenshtern, Chief Executive Officer of Agoda, spoke at the ATF event about the company’s responsibility towards preserving travel destinations for future generations. He stressed that the collaboration with WWF and the support of hotel partners are crucial in championing environmental preservation and protection initiatives.
The Chair of the ASEAN Tourism Ministers Meeting, H.E. Minister Suanesavanh Vignaket, applauded the partnership, inviting public and private sectors to advance sustainable practices in ASEAN actively. This sentiment was echoed by Vivek Kumar, Chief Executive Officer of WWF-Singapore, who pointed out the tangible effects of their collaboration on the environment, as showcased by the WWF’s latest Living Planet Report.
The impact of the second edition of the Eco Deals Program has been substantial. The Cyber Spotters Program trained volunteers to identify illegal wildlife trade listings in Singapore. In Cambodia, rangers received extensive training, leading to the discovery of illegal logging and poaching sites. Indonesia saw significant ecosystem restoration efforts, while in Malaysia, the deployment of camera traps and zero active snares marked a victory for wildlife conservation. Vietnam is set to implement SMART technology for better wildlife and habitat protection.
Agoda’s initiative, aligning with the ASEAN Framework on Sustainable Tourism Development, is a shining example of responsible travel promotion. As we look towards a more sustainable future, this partnership between Agoda and WWF stands as a testament to the power of collaborative effort in protecting our planet’s precious wildlife and natural habitats.
Written by: Supaporn Pholrach