Prince Harry has made his first appearance in the UK as he prepares a whirlwind of final events before he steps back as a senior royal.
The Duke of Sussex is in Edinburgh, where he is hosting a sustainable tourism summit as he bids to get his travel project Travalyst off the ground.
Opening the summit, Ayesha Hazarika said he had made it clear “just to call him Harry”, rather than “His Royal Highness” or “Sir”.
Harry’s ideas on sustainable tourism include creating an online scoring system to show the eco-friendly statuses of aviation, accommodation and holiday experiences.
He looked relaxed and happy as he welcomed delegates at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre to get feedback on his ideas.
Avoiding any mention of the last few weeks of royal turmoil, the duke, who is known as the Earl of Dumbarton in Scotland, said: “We want to hear truths and perspectives from across the industry. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, a lot of great work has already been done.
“But our research again shows that many of these endeavours have failed to reach the conscientiousness of consumers.”
He added: “We have to work together… to scale up the good practices already being used around the world. Scotland is a great example of what we mean.
“There is a holistic ambition to Scotland’s intent that can be adopted across the UK and even around the world.
“Scotland is one of the fastest-growing tourism destinations worldwide and it’s at the forefront of a more sustainable approach, which is why your insight into these issues is so incredibly valuable.”
There are about 100 people attending the working summit in the Scottish capital.
Harry added: “We believe that travel is a good thing – it is the heart of human experience, of cultural connections and of new friendships.
“It is a global powerhouse that employs hundreds of millions of people, keeping culture alive, protecting some of the world’s most precious spaces and introduces us to people, places and wildlife that we have only ever seen on a screen.
“It is these experiences that we remember and cherish.”
But he warned: “If we do not act and in a large part get ahead of the inevitable surge, this massive increase will mean risking more of the world’s most beautiful destinations closed or destroyed, more communities becoming overwhelmed, more beaches shut because of pollution, and animals and wildlife driven from their natural habitat – which has a huge impact on communities and reduces tourism opportunities.”
A post on the Sussex Royal instagram account said: “Today, The Duke of Sussex will be in Scotland – one of the world’s fastest growing tourist destinations - to hear what they’re doing to put sustainability at the forefront of holidays that protect the environment and support local communities.
“The number of tourists globally is rapidly rising, and based on an increasing desire from travellers, The Duke’s international partnership Travalyst is working to ensure the industry can better support communities that face increasing challenges of overcrowding, pollution, and the climate emergency. Supporting these communities means preserving these destinations for everyone.
When Hazza Met Hazza! Very honoured & BEYOND excited to be hosting a conference on travel & sustainability in Edinburgh organised by this chap. pic.twitter.com/th979PEMbR— Ayesha Hazarika (@ayeshahazarika) February 26, 2020
“By harnessing the power of travel, which accounts for 1 in 10 jobs globally, generating newrly [sic] $9 trillion annually, and is at the heart of connecting people and culture, tourism can lead the way in supporting communities and protecting the environment.”
The duke has partnered with Booking.com, Skyscanner, TripAdvisor, Trip.com and Visa.
Harry flew on a commercial airline as he returned to London on Tuesday night from Canada, and then took a train from London to Edinburgh.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have faced criticism over their use of private jets in the past, particularly as Harry launched his project in Amsterdam in the autumn, shortly after the family used them for a holiday.
He responded to criticism by saying he flew commercially “99%” of the time but had to protect his family.
Harry has a busy few weeks of engagements ahead of him before he steps back from life as a working royal.
He will attend Abbey Road studios on Friday, where Jon Bon Jovi and the Invictus Games choir are recording the official song for this year’s games.
His wife Meghan will be joining him in the UK at some point, ahead of their joint engagements next week at the Endeavour Fund awards and the Mountbatten Festival of Music.
The couple confirmed they won’t use the word “royal” in any of their branding as they finalised the details of their transition period over the weekend.
They had been using Sussex Royal and were in the midst of a trademark application for the name but agreed not to use it once it became clear they wouldn’t be able to do so in the UK.
They said they were “eager” to share more plans when they could, and would be setting up a nonprofit organisation as opposed to a foundation.
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