We recently had a chance to talk with Jeff Element, President of The Travel Corporation and were fascinated by what he had to share with us about his family of companies and their sustainable travel initiatives.

Jeff ElementCourtesy of The Travel Corporation

The Travel Corporation’s TreadRight Foundation provides grants to the communities in the destinations you visit to encourage sustainability, protect natural attractions and preserve the unique heritage of each destination. Tell us about one project you’re really proud of.

 Since 2008, our nonprofit organization – a joint project of The Travel Corporation  family of companies - has supported over 35 sustainability projects but our newest is one that hits close to home – literally! We’re proud to be supporting The TreadRight Foundation’s first North American endeavor entitled, The Manitobah Mukluks Storyboot School. Together with the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto and Manitobah Mukluks (a popular indigenous-owned Canadian company producing authentic mukluks and moccasins), this Canadian artisan-led project saw us set up a semi-permanent school at the museum in September 2016 that teaches the art of making traditional mukluks and moccasins to both First Nations and non-First Nations students.

How has forging a partnership with Me-to-We Cofounders Craig and Marc Keilburger fit with the Travel Corporation’s philosophy, and how will this alliance enhance your guests’ experience?

We’re thrilled to have a long-term partnership with ME to WE!  The Travel Corporation and seven of its brands including Trafalgar, Contiki Holidays, Insight Vacations, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, Lion World Travel, African Travel Inc., and Adventure World will be offering ME to WE immersive volunteer trip experiences in India, the Ecuadorian Amazon and Kenya on upcoming set departure dates or as a requested custom trip in these three spectacular destinations.

Trafalgar Tours offers more in-depth experiences than many other coach tour companies. Which destination offers the most surprising tours/experiences etc? What’s best for a first-time coach guest? What about a guest who is already well-traveled?

I’ve traveled with Trafalgar many times and I’m always impressed with the Insider Experiences that have guests interacting with locals. Our Be My Guest dining experiences, and VIP access at major landmarks all add to the enjoyment of our completely stress-free travel. For 2017, Trafalgar has launched into India, Sri Lanka, Laos and South Africa and we’re sure guests will love the #JoinTrafalgar initiative that helps to support the communities we visit.

Eight styles of travel mean something great for every traveler. For a first-time coach guest, I’d recommend a Discovery guided vacation with several destinations that will help them narrow down which countries they want to re-visit on a future Regional Explorer or Country Explorer trip. For the well-traveled guest, I’d recommend a slower-paced At Leisure trip with two to six nights per destination or a Special Interest guided vacation where travelers can indulge their passions for food, gardens, war sites or whatever appeals.

Which Trafalgar tours are you particularly excited about as a means to experience Canada in her birthday year?

We are very excited that Canada is celebrating 150 years in 2017 and will be running a custom Canada 150th Anniversary trip that will visit Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick – the first four provinces to join the Confederation in 1867. Watch for details on this itinerary very soon! If I were planning a Canadian staycation, I’d choose Trafalgar’s custom trip and be in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, on July 1, 2017! The once-in-a-lifetime celebrations will surely be memorable.

Insight Vacations is a great choice for sophisticated travelers with high expectations. Which elements of your tours and destinations do your guests comment on most?

Tours to Ireland remain the most popular among Insight Vacations guests in Canada – in particular, “Irish Elegance” is one of our top selling tours to the Emerald Isle. For many Canadians, there’s a huge appetite to explore this destination, possibly driven by ancestral connections. Guests love their stay at the award-winning, Red Carnation-owned property, the opulent five-star Ashford Castle, on the picturesque shores of Lough Corrib. One thing that sets Insight apart from others, according to our guests, is our knowledgeable and personable staff of Tour Directors. Our Signature Experiences and immersive opportunities - from an intimate and elegant dinner inside the Vatican among priceless treasures, to visiting a working highland farm in Scotland where shepherd Neil Ross demonstrates his skills as a sheepdog trainer – make our tours very special.

Your company, Lion World, has been in the business of taking guests on life-changing safari trips for over 50 years. Can you describe some of the experiences guests can anticipate on your “In Style” and “Inspirational” safaris?

When it comes to Africa we can create whatever you need, covering everything from a safari where you experience nature in its most awe-inspiring splendor to a night in a romantic tree house hideaway. We are “truly African and proudly local” with our own on-the-ground tour operators throughout Africa, as well as several major boutique hotels.

Originally published in Cruise & Travel Lifestyles Winter/Spring 2017 issue.

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