Since the first event in New York City in 1969, U.S. Travel has hosted the International Pow Wow (IPW) to put America’s tourist destinations up for offer to travel agents from around the world. This year’s event, set in Orlando, was kicked off with a strong environmental angle courtesy of Tourism Cares. The nonprofit partnered with IDEAS for Us (and any convention-goers who volunteered) to service one of Orlando’s many community gardens.

As an organization supporting sustainable and beneficial travel, Tourism Cares maintains three funds that support efforts investing in tourism infrastructure, reestablishing tourism after a natural disaster or promoting diversity within travel. Out of appreciation for IDEAS for Us’ contribution to the beautification and sustainability of Orlando, they were awarded a grant of $10,000.

Growth in the Ground and the Convention Attendee

A community garden volunteer event serves as the perfect opener for IPW 2022. In addition to presenting American tourism to international planners, a series of panels, summits and workshops offer attendees many opportunities for personal and professional growth. The eTourism Summit on June 6 gave insight into how a strong digital presence can enhance a destination’s appeal and recognizability. A series of focus sessions on the IPW convention floor taught listeners anything from LGBTQ Travel Marketing to the effects of sports on travel economies.

 Next year’s event will be held in San Antonio on May 20-24.

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Making Sustainable Travel Happen

The work Tourism Cares does to foster eco-friendly and lucrative tourism extends to a wide array of business and leisure destinations. Another recipient of the Impact Travel Fund that IDEAS for Us will receive its grant from is the #BeAChangeMaker campaign by Impulse Travel. This program is providing education and resources for community leaders across Columbia to develop tourism experiences. Initiatives like this expand the amount of available tourist locations that meeting planners can take advantage of.

The Destination Disaster Recovery Fund plays an important role in pulling countries out of the economic hole created by natural disasters that are only becoming more common with climate change. Tourism Cares invested in infrastructure in the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) that helped it recover after the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017. USVI sees up to two million visitors each year.

Environmentally-friendly practices are becoming increasingly important to corporations around the world. 315 companies have signed the Climate Pledge so far, an agreement to be fully carbon neutral by 2040. Tourism Cares’ goal to fund sustainable travel practices aligns with this trend of going green.

Taking Eco-Friendly Action

Gardening is a big focus for IDEAS for Us, but the organization is hardly limited to Orlando. From planting fruit trees in Bucharest, Romania to creating a sustainable agriculture program in Nyangezi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, IDEAS for Us mobilizes volunteers in every corner of the globe to help people through environmentally-friendly projects. They have been given the status of an accredited NGO by the United Nations–their projects align closely with the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals.

One of IDEAS for Us’ successful projects in Orlando is their urban farming initiative, Fleet Farming. Through in-person teaching events, online resources and group plantings, the program is working to convert urban lawn space into sustainable, edible gardens. They’ve already replanted over 114,000 sq. ft. of sod into tiny farms that can feed families and supply local food banks and restaurants.

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With IPW 2022’s conclusion, IDEAS for Us is moving on to their next Orlando project. The group is teaming up with Keep Orlando Beautiful, a subset of Keep America Beautiful, to plant over 400 Florida-native plants near Orlando Executive Airport (OEA). Members of the public can volunteer to replace the grass bordering North Crystal Lake Drive with shrubs and flowers.

Sustainability is popular with consumers and travelers. Promoting it along with IPW 2022 demonstrates a larger commitment to the environment in the travel industry. Beautification is just one of many ways to make a tourist destination more appealing to travelers.