Prince Harry addressed the virtual Global Summit of his Travalyst environmental tourism initiative on Thursday

By Phil Boucher
July 30, 2020 01:21 PM
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Prince Harry is telling the travel industry that it needs to "build back better" from the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Addressing the virtual Global Summit of his key environmental tourism initiative, Travalyst, from his new home in L.A. on Thursday, the Duke of Sussex added that the change “is needed now more than ever”.

"None of us could have predicted the global shock and impact that Covid-19 is having on the world – especially on travel and the local communities that depend on tourism,” Harry added, reports the Travel Trade Gazette.

“Many of you joining us today rely on visitors for your livelihoods – businesses are hurting significantly. I’ve heard from some of you that are struggling to put food on your family's tables and to make ends meet – because there are no tourists and therefore no income.

“We need to build back, but we need to build back better.”

Prince Harry
Prince Harry arrives at the Travalyst summit in Edinburgh, Scotland, in February
Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images

Harry's appearance comes as revelations from the new book, Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family, have been made. The best-selling book is excerpted in this week's PEOPLE cover story.

A spokesperson for Meghan, 38, and Harry, 35, previously said in a statement, "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were not interviewed and did not contribute to Finding Freedom. This book is based on the authors’ own experiences as members of the royal press corps and their own independent reporting."

Featuring exclusive interviews with friends of Harry and wife Meghan Markle, the book opens the lid on such things as the couple's tense relationship with Prince William and Kate Middleton, and how Harry felt emboldened to step down from front-line royal duties because he found someone "strong enough to weather the same storms," says co-author Omid Scobie.

Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images

Harry's Travalyst initiative is a key element of this new non-royal life. Launched in September 2019 with Booking.com, SkyScanner, CTrip, TripAdvisor and Visa, it aims to make the global travel industry "an engine for sustainability” by promoting eco-friendly tourism that benefits local communities as much as it does tour operators.

It was also the location of Harry's first non-royal public event in February, when he left Meghan and then 9-month-old son Archie in their temporary Canadian home, to take part in a full-day Travalyst working summit in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Prince Harry hugs on the Travalyst stage in Edinburgh, Scotland
Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images

Speaking Wednesday at the start of the virtual summit session, Harry stressed that Travalyst intends to help the travel sector recover “now and in the long term.”

"Your being part of this recovery and doing everything you can to help communities around the world bounce back is not a shift in mission or a shift in values. This is your mission, these are your values," Harry told the virtual audience.

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"Destinations are under immense pressure. They’re suffering significant damage. Communities are struggling. Habitats are being destroyed. And wildlife is being driven out – or worse, wiped out," he added.

"We want to ensure that the industry that recovers is one that supports everyone fairly. One that protects destinations but supports local communities and is truly resilient."

Harry continued, “Before the pandemic unfolded we witnessed more and more young people expressing an interest in authentic travel experiences and the ability to partake in trips that are greener, that allow them to support local communities, uphold heritage and protect destinations and cultures.

"The troubles we face are shouldered together and the solutions must be too. This is surely how we shape the future."