PRINCE HARRY has issued a heartfelt plea in the opening speech of a virtual summit for his sustainable travel initiative Travalyst.
Prince Harry announced his desire to “reshape” the travel industry in a way which will benefit tourists, companies and communities. The Duke of Sussex has officially opened the Travalyst Global Summit with a brief speech in which he addressed what he believes are the most urgent issues the industry needs to tackle now.
From his home in Los Angeles, Prince Harry outlined the devastating impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on the tourism sector and how many people’s livelihoods are on the brink at the moment.
But, as he welcomed a rebirth of the tourism sector, he urged all parts involved to make steps towards creating a more sustainable tourism.
Calling for a drive to “advance economic progress in a way that is just”, the Duke said: “None of us here could have predicted the global shock and impact that COVID-19 is having on the world, especially on travel and the local communities who depend on tourism.
“Many of you joining us today rely on visitors for your livelihoods.
Prince Harry denied any wrongdoings in regards to the grants received from the Royal Foundation (Image: GETTY)
“Businesses are hurting significantly, and I have heard from some of you who are currently struggling to put food on your family’s tables and make ends meet because there are no tourists and therefore no income.
“We need to build back – but we need to build back better.”
While the economy and communities are suffering due to the fall in the number of tourists, Prince Harry warned wildlife has been suffering for decades due to unethical tourism.
Prince Harry at last year’s launch of Travalyst (Image: GETTY)
He continued: “Destinations are under immense pressure, they are suffering significant damage, communities are struggling, habitats are being destroyed, and wildlife is being driven out – or worse, wiped out.”
During this summit, Travalyst aims at bringing together stakeholders from across the travel and tourism industry to find ways to restart them in an ethical way.
Prince Harry is now living in Los Angeles (Image: GETTY)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were criticised for their use of private jets last year (Image: GETTY)
Wearing a jacket and a white buttoned-down shirt, the Duke of Sussex added: “This is the future of travel, and a future that Travalyst is here to support and catalyse.”
A drop in tourism has also impacted the royals themselves, with the Royal Collection Trust, which looks after palaces and collections part of the Royal Households, expecting a £30million loss by the end of 2020/2021.
Prince Harry officially launched Travalyst, an initiative he is leading but which was created by giants in the tourism industry such as Booking and Skyscanner, in September last year.
At the time, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were being criticised for their use of private jets over the summer, as they travelled first to Spain and then to France using four private aircrafts in 11 days despite having previously urged their followers on Instagram to lower their carbon emissions.
During the launch of Travalyst, Prince Harry explained he takes commercial flights most of the time but he needs to use private jets on occasion to protect his family.
Prince Harry is Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s younger son (Image: EXPRESS)
More recently, Travalyst has come under the spotlight after the Charity Commission was asked to investigate a grant it received from the Royal Foundation of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William.
According to the Foundation’s annual report, Kate and William’s organisation paid £145,000 to fund Sussex Royal set-up and launch and a further £100,000 to Travalyst, which was initially under the umbrella of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’ never launched charitable plattform.
After Meghan and Harry’s decision to step down and the winding up of the Sussex Royal Foundation, Travalyst was registered as a private limited company.
The request to the Charity Commission was issued by the CEO of anti-monarchy campaign group Republic, Graham Smith, who said: “These two charities appear to be in breach of guidelines regarding the proper use of charitable funds and may be failing in their duty to act independently and solely in the interests of their objectives.”
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s associations received two grants from the Royal Foundation (Image: GETTY)
Spokesmen for both the Sussex and Cambridge households denied any wrongdoings.
Through his representatives, Prince Harry issued a second, blistering response to the claims made by Republic, saying: “This is his life’s focus, and his devotion to charity is at the very core of the principles he lives by, and is obvious through the impact and success of his many charitable projects throughout the UK and beyond.
“To this point, it is deeply offensive to today see false claims made about the Duke of Sussex and his charitable work. It is both defamatory and insulting to all the outstanding organizations and people he has partnered with.”
Source: EXPRESS CO UK