The USTOA has announced its 2023 USTOA Future Lights recipients, which recognizes travel industry leaders for their contributions to sustainability and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts.
This year’s recipients are Julie Higgins, director of hotel operations and sustainability officer for Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, and Mikey Sadowski, vice president of global communications for Intrepid Travel.
Higgins was recognized for her work overseeing all sustainability initiatives at Uniworld, which over the past two years saw the river cruise line work toward reducing food waste with the implementation of the Leanpath food waste management system.
This year, 13 of Uniworld’s ships have introduced Leanpath, and food waste has been reduced by 34%, saving more than 29,000 pounds of food.
At Intrepid, Sadowski has worked alongside six external consultants to create Intrepid Travel’s Ethical Marketing Guidelines, which was designed to hold the business accountable in becoming a more diverse and inclusive brand and company.
The guidelines contain five commitments and 23 measurable actions, including that at least 50% of Intrepid’s content partners identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color (BIPOC); 10% as plus-size; 10% as LGBTQIA+; and 10% as Indigenous.
Sadowski also helped create and launch a series of BIPOC content creator mentorship trips aimed at providing greater support to popular and emerging influencers in partnership Nomadness Travel Tribe, which is one of the largest communities of BIPOC travelers in the world.
“USTOA is overjoyed to recognize our 2023 Future Lights of the Tour Industry. Julie and Mikey are, indeed, bright lights who will help guide our industry to a more sustainable and equitable future,” said Terry Dale, CEO of the USTOA.
The Future Lights program was launched last year in commemoration of the USTOA’s 50th anniversary.
USTOA tour operator members can nominate coworkers who have made a difference in helping their companies, and the communities they interact with, address issues critical for responsible travel.
The 2023 Future Lights recipients will be acknowledged during the USTOA Annual Conference and Marketplace held Dec. 2-6 in Los Angeles.
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