Since Jeremy Jauncey founded Beautiful Destinations in 2012, the travel marketing and media company’s focus on sustainability evolved with Jauncey’s exposure to the realities of responsible travel. Now, he’s translating his experience to educate a wider audience—both personally and through Beautiful Destinations’ combined 30 million followers—through positive, inspiring content surrounding the topic of sustainable travel.
“When I started the business, I did not know that the industry generates five to eight percent of global greenhouse gas emissions; I did not know that there were conscious choices that I could make to have a more positive impact when I was traveling—and even after I travel,” shares Jauncey.
Today, Jauncey is an ambassador for the non-governmental organization World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Gold Standard, the latter was established by WWF to hone in on reducing carbon emissions. He credits these NGOs for educating him on transparency and accountability within the world of sustainable travel. “I realized that a lot of the initial focus of conservation and regenerative and sustainable travel focused on making the right decisions—as in buying into the right accommodations or using the right mode of transport—and focused less on the measurement and accountability,” explains Jauncey, in reference to learning about WWF’s carbon calculator to measure and better understand your climate impact, then Gold Standard’s programs to then offset that impact.
“There is a whole industry that exists on the profitization of carbon credits. There are plenty of organizations that will position themselves as credible climate consultants or credible carbon offsetting programs that are for-profit organizations that are very incentivized for you to invest in certain projects. Gold Standard, as a completely transparent NGO, is the opposite of that. They were able to educate me on a whole world of transparency and of accountability.”
As Jauncey experienced the power of education firsthand by working with these NGOs, he felt it was where he should begin with educating others, but in a less traditional way. “I’m very passionate about this idea of raising awareness of the challenges our industry creates, but doing so differently to the way it’s been done in the past,” say Jauncey. “In the past, a lot of the narrative has been negative, people were being shamed for going on vacation, people were focusing on the negative aspects of the climate crisis; personally, I don’t believe that’s the way to inspire people to actually change behaviors.”
Along with repositioning the message surrounding the climate crisis, Jauncey works with WWF and Gold Standard to restructure how the message is delivered. After successfully building the digital community of Beautiful Destinations, Jauncey recognized the power of short form content to resonate with the next generation of travelers and consumers. He cites the sobering reminder that in the western world, one in every five minutes is spent on a social media platform. “When you think about delivering messages of impact, most of the NGOs, most of the people talking about conservation were using more traditional channels [of awareness] like traditional brochures or press releases,” says Jauncey. “Consumer attention is in a completely different place; it’s an enormous opportunity for us to embrace these tools to translate this important messaging into ways that people will understand and actively engage on these platforms.”
Jauncey and the Beautiful Destinations team have previously worked with Egypt Tourism Authority, the Jamaica Tourism Board and Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism to curate digital content to reflect the message of responsible travel via concise, yet stunning, footage.
In a larger example of using digital marketing and his voice for positive change, Jauncey most recently, and successfully, campaigned with WWF to urge the U.S. government to block the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Through short video compilations, shared both in WWF campaigns and across social media channels, Jauncey presented consumers with relatable, digestible content, while advocating change. Just five days ago, Jauncey posted to his Instagram that this campaign’s efforts (he’s been involved in since 2019) were realized as the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed it would restore protection for Bristol Bay, the region that was threatened by the construction of Pebble Mine.
“If we want mainstream adoption, the days of telling a conservation story with an emaciated polar bear have to be over. It’s finding ways to celebrate moments of inspiration and giving people the insight into how powerful travel is through a positive lens.”
Jauncey’s background in travel resulted in his perspective of the industry’s ability to stimulate these conversations around sustainability. He’s dedicated his career to responsible travel, therefore, has witnessed firsthand how, when done correctly, the travel industry can be the ATM of the world. “The moment you land in your destination you’re putting money straight into the local economy; you pay for your taxi, go to a restaurant, tip a waiter, it’s instantaneous,” emphasized Jauncey. “If you think about manufacturing or other industries, yes, they generate jobs and income, but there’s a lot of environmental challenges before that money can be felt and realized by a local economy.”
Through this local lens, Jauncey argues that hotels, not necessarily travelers, have the power to ensure responsible and regenerative travel continue to flourish, and not become a fleeting trend. “Where I see the biggest value is a property’s commitment to investing in the local economy,” said Jauncey, prompting the string of questions: Are they hiring local people? Are they using local resources? Are they bringing in an overseas model and dropping it into a new country without localizing in any way?
Jauncey concludes, “It goes back to a circular economy, where everybody benefits. If that model could be understood and embraced for travel as a whole, the industry would be much more net-positive.”