Positive change

A Kilimanjaro climb, beach clean-ups and the distribution of SolarBuddy lights to learners in impoverished communities – these are some of the initiatives Flight Centre Travel Group South Africa has contributed this year to the global travel giant’s support for the goals of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC).

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.

At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership. They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

As a signatory to UNGC, Flight Centre Travel Group is committed to playing a role in the achievement of these goals. By enabling its people and customers through support and education, it is able to deliver on this commitment, says CEO Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner.

The Flight Centre Travel Group spans 22 countries. It has 20,000 employees, an extensive list of thousands of supplier partners and millions of customers. “This network creates a significant area in which we can drive positive impact,” says Flight Centre Travel Group MEA Managing Director Andrew Stark.

“As a global travel business with both leisure and corporate, FCTG is aware of the economic, environmental and social impacts of travel and tourism across the globe. We believe we have a responsibility to lead the way for both our customers and travel industry colleagues.

“We have commenced developing our Sustainable Development Goals Blueprint as a company, addressing 12 of the 17 SDG goals set out by the United Nations. And, South Africa is leading the way,” says Stark.

Among the initiatives that Flight Centre Travel Group South Africa has embarked on over the past year are the Kili4Kids initiative to raise R300,000 for a library at Qhobosheane Primary School, the donation of 1,500 SolarBuddy lights to previously disadvantaged learners and the achievement of Level 1 B-BBEE (Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment) contributor status, which has been achieved through a focus on empowerment in all its different facets.

“The creation of FCTG’s Employee Share Scheme has changed the culture of the business. Through the scheme, shareholders own 30% of FCM. Each year, company dividends are shared with previously disadvantaged staff, employed in the business and who have worked with the company for a set number of years,” says Stark.

In 2019, some 269 staff who are members of the trust benefited from dividends. “The number of recipients has grown from 15 three years ago, to 269 today. It’s a great story and we are the only travel company in South Africa to have this in place for our team.”

Flight Centre Travel Group’s sustainability journey includes creating a Sustainability Report for the organisation.

“We are assessing our existing sustainable practices and creating a roadmap on how to ensure a sustainable future for our company. We are also especially proud to outline our progress and the delivery on our commitment as a signatory to the UNGC. Our progress has also been assisted through the FCTG travel network that stretches to most regions of the world, enabling us to promote and implement sustainable travel principles through our family brands,” says Stark.