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ABBEY GROUP SUSTAINABILITY POLICY

Vision/mission/company ethos 

The Abbey Group forms a collection of inbound travel companies operating in Ireland and Great Britain, these are countries where we live and which we respect and love. Our core values form our Code of Conduct and govern the way we work with our clients, colleagues and suppliers: • Respect   • Integrity   • Team Spirit   • Excellence   • Passion   • Open Communication Our mission is to provide excellent service and outstanding travel experiences to our clients. In this we heavily rely on a clean, safe environment and the natural beauty as well as cultural heritage of Ireland and Great Britain. We are aware that our business activities impact on the destinations we are passionate about and commit to alleviate negative impacts by reducing our ecological footprint. Furthermore, we want to make positive contributions to the places and people we visit and work with to preserve our beautiful islands for generations to come. In Abbey we believe in integrity and respectful partnerships with our clients, our staff and our suppliers. As a team we can drive positive change. This change needs to start in our immediate surroundings. We are committed to a positive and inclusive working environment – a great place to work for all. Our sustainability commitments are shared by all our management and staff. We aren’t perfect yet, but it is our vision to become a sustainability leader in tourism, offering the opportunity to explore our beautiful country whilst protecting it for future generations to experience in years to come. Central to this vision is maintaining the balance of the relationship between environmental management, economic health and social responsibility, carrying out our business activities to the highest standard with a long-term perspective of their consequences in mind. To achieve this, we not only commit to aligning our own actions and practices with the latest scientific sustainability recommendations but also encouraging our stakeholders to do the same by continuous collaboration and open communication.

UNWTO definition 

At Abbey Group, we believe that sustainable tourism is tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social, and environmental impacts while addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities (UNWTO, n.d.). We therefore aim to reduce our negative effects and increase our positive impacts.

Continuous improvement 

We still have work to do, but we are committed to continuously improving our efforts. In order to achieve long-term sustainability goals we will constantly assess, evaluate and improve our systems and processes by: • Setting SMART sustainability goals • Ongoing identification of areas of waste • Regular reporting and reviews to track progress, adapt and evolve. • Involving all employees, creating a sustainability culture within the company. • Collaborating with stakeholders • Fostering a culture of efficiency and innovation, encouraging new ideas and solutions This will require a commitment to a long-term journey of continuous improvement. It begins with meaningful changes that have immediate impact to long term projects that will be driven from the core of the company. The improvement will be regularly monitored, assessed and reflected upon, the Abbey Group will hold itself accountable for achieving set targets and making itself answerable to all stakeholders. Abbey believes that this improvement should encompass a holistic approach internally and externally, all employees and areas of the business should feel empowered to challenge and drive improvement. Externally, Abbey will ensure that environmental, economic and social improvements are central to all business transactions. Continuous improvement is key to the ethos of the Abbey Group.

Measuring and reducing negative impacts 

4a. Energy consumption     We commit to measuring our electricity consumption every month with a reduction target of 6% over 12 months. To achieve this, we will do the following:    • Continue to use renewable energy suppliers for our offices.   • Purchase low energy equipment wherever possible and fit all offices with LED light panels. These panels use approximately a fifth of the energy of halogen bulbs and significantly reduce the need for bulb purchasing and maintenance.   • Explore the possibility to equip all corridors and bathrooms with movement sensor lights.    • Introduce controlled heating throughout the buildings in winter which automatically turns off between 7pm and 7am and maintains a recommended temperature of 20 degrees during the workday.    • Optimising all appliances: All electronic equipment gets set to eco-mode where possible. Employees are encouraged to reduce their laptop’s display brightness. Laptops switch to sleep mode after 10 minutes of inactivity.   • All employees agree to consciously contribute to the reduction of energy consumption in the office. They need to ensure that all their equipment is fully turned off at the end of the day.     4b. Water consumption     We commit to measuring our water consumption every month with a reduction aim of 4% over 12 months. To achieve this, we will do the following:    • The majority of office toilets are fitted with dual flush systems to promote water saving. We aim to get the remaining toilets converted.    • Most of our bathroom sinks are equipped with push or sensor taps. We aim to get the remaining taps converted.    • We will explore the option of fitting aerators on taps in all bathrooms  • Our third-party cleaning agency has been instructed to choose the eco-friendly programme to run the dishwashers   • All employees get educated on water consumption   • Drinking water is provided to all staff with water refill stations and glasses available on each office floor. Abbey advises against bringing plastic bottled water to the office.  • Clients will be encouraged to bring reusable water bottles and drink tap water on their trips.   • Abbey providers are asked to provide refill stations for clients’ water bottles    4c. Waste production     We commit to measuring our waste consumption every month with the aim to reduce overall consumption and increase our recycling rates by 20% over the next 12 months. We will do the following to achieve this:   • In Abbey we focus on reduce, re-use and recycle and follow local waste legislation. We separate all waste and recycle where possible. All floors are equipped with food waste bins and recycling bins for mixed recyclables (paper, cardboard, aluminium, CDs/DVDs.).    • All bins are clearly labelled to encourage staff to correctly dispose and recycle.  • We select waste collection providers that focus on the circular economy through recycling and resource recovery.   • We utilise appropriate recycling companies when disposing of larger office items and confidential waste.  • Where possible we donate items we no longer use, such as computers, printers and furniture to those in need.  • We are working towards implementing a ‘zero single-use plastic’ policy within the next 12 months. As part of this we aim to completely abolish single use bin liners by the end of 2024. This can be achieved in collaboration with our third-party cleaning agencies.   • We promote a paperless office and have significantly reduced our paper usage in the office over the last years through our e-filing system. All communications take place in electronic form. When printing cannot be avoided, we use 100% recycled, FSC or PEFC-certified, paper and print double-sided.  • The majority of office bathrooms are fitted with dryer units instead of paper towel dispensers. We aim to install dryer units in the remaining bathrooms over the next 12 months.   • Cutlery, plates, glasses and coffee cups are provided for everyone’s use in Abbey. All employees are encouraged to use these items or bring their own re-usable drinking bottles and coffee cups  • We introduced an “Abbey Pantry” where staff can leave spare, non-perishable, food items for other staff to take.

Ethical purchasing 

The Abbey Group follows a code of conduct on ethical purchasing which entails our commitment to following guidelines:  1. Compliance with Laws and Regulation  2. Respect for human rights and conflict-free sourcing  3. Fair trade practices  4. Social Responsibility  5. Environmental sustainability  6. Animal welfare  7. Supply Chain Transparency & Accountability  8. Consumer Empowerment  9. Collaboration and Partnerships  10. Continuous Improvement  • We know all the products used in our offices and we always seek to improve our purchases in the direction of products that are more reliable and less harmful to the environment. For example, we recently adopted biodegradable cleaning products.  • We use the Ecolabel index (https://www.ecolabelindex.com/) to identify if the products we want to switch to carry a genuine ecolabel.   • We prioritise local (within 50km radius of our office) and seasonal produce when buying food and beverage items for the office and will switch to only using fair trade coffee and tea products in 2024.   • When purchasing gifts for our clients we favour local craftspeople, artists and producers.   • We encourage purchasing from charity shops or local producers during events like Christmas Secret Santa.

Carbon management 

We aim to calculate and reduce our carbon footprint by 5% over the next 12 months and are in the process of selecting a partner to offset our currently unavoidable emissions. Measures to reduce our carbon footprint include: • Staff are encouraged to use public transport, cycle or walk to work. Central office locations were selected to facilitate this. We offer the Taxsaver tickets and bike to work scheme to incentivise this. Bus and tram stops are within a few minutes walking distance from all of the offices. Bike racks are available outside the offices for cyclists. • We encourage clients and suppliers visiting our offices to use public transport wherever possible. We provide them with information on public transport options in advance via our website and via email • With the introduction of a hybrid-working policy in 2023 we reduced commuting by ca. 30 percent in total. • We encourage the substitution of onsite meetings with virtual meetings, webinars and workshops where possible to reduce unnecessary travel. • If business travel can’t be avoided preference is given to rail or bus travel for distances up to 400km. • We track the number of flights and carbon emissions of our business travel and will offset through our selected partner. • We include a sustainability contribution in our offers towards offsetting the carbon footprint of our travellers.

Responsible sustainability marketing 

Abbey’s core values include respect for people and the environment, and open communication. We aim to inspire and educate our staff and clients to maintain a clean and safe environment, preserving the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Ireland and Great Britain. This will be done by communicating green marketing effectively. We are committed to researching and adopting the latest green marketing strategies to achieve encouraging results. We strongly believe that people are more likely to change their negative sustainable behaviour if motivated by consistent and transparent communication. Change starts with each of us, with the courage to act with conscience and educate people that every small contribution counts in shaping a better future for all. We know that it is important to communicate our efforts in an honest way. We are aware of the risk of greenwashing, and we therefore commit to the following practices: 7a. Marketing content • Promoting sustainable tourism products in a responsible manner. Sustainable products are included and highlighted in both generic and sustainable-focused itineraries to ensure that concern for environmental issues and a focus on responsible travel are embedded throughout all programmes. • Providing our social media account manager with sustainable and ethical content to share that informs, engages, and educates stakeholders • Encouraging sustainable activities and practices and promoting sustainable destinations via social media channels • Promoting tours that respect the cultural heritage and customs of local communities • Using imagery and content that authentically represent our destinations, communities and products, avoiding misrepresentation and stereotyping. 7b. Marketing materials • Minimising waste by use of digital marketing strategies where possible • Becoming more paperless by sending online materials that are key promotional tools rather than printing. Examples of these materials include tariffs, presentations, itineraries, and other relevant company information. When printing is necessary, such as leaflets or social norms. We use paper that is 100% recyclable and purchased from local suppliers. We aim to have paper-free stands at our trade fairs and reduce paper use on sales trips by utilising iPads and laptops to present information. • Promoting the the use of sustainable materials in any physical marketing materials. 7c. Communication Strategies • Ensuring all communication is transparent and honest. Accurate information gets clearly communicated to customers and other stakeholder. This includes terms and conditions, pricing and programmes. • Implement positive communication strategies with visual and written content, such as displaying a few impactful messages in common areas of the offices or sending email marketing campaigns. Studies show how positive green marketing message educate and influence the behaviour of people willing to be more conscious but not always acting on it. (Attitude – behaviour gap) • Green internal communication. Launching green marketing campaigns to educate and empower staff on reducing their ecological footprint, for example use an eco-bag for shopping, a reusable water bottle or a cup to reduce your plastic waste. Shop, eat and drink locally to support neighbourhood businesses which keeps people employed and circulates money back into the community. • Green external marketing communication campaigns via online channels to encourage and educate guests, promoting sustainable travel practices among our clients. Educate customers on responsible travel practices, including respecting local customs, minimising environmental impact, and supporting local businesses. 7d. Accountability and continuous improvement • Use credible certifications or third-party validations to substantiate our sustainability claims. • Provide clear and accurate information about our sustainability initiatives, including goals, progress, and impact. • Publish our sustainability journey with percentages and evidence to ensure full transparency. • Communicate transparently about our supply chain, collaborations, and partnerships for ESG purposes. • Continuously evaluate and update our marketing materials to reflect our evolving sustainability practices, taking into consideration how the content may be interpreted to account for inclusion and diversity. • Collate and circulate up-to-date product information, including access details and current visitor volumes and capacities, to ensure that products and experiences are accurately reflected. • Provide training on responsible travel and sustainable products in Ireland and the UK, including how to engage clients and promote minimal impact behaviour. • Collect data and ideas through surveys and focus groups to improve activities and progress.

Social responsibility 

As we are aware that tourism activities can have a negative impact on local communities, we offer the following support: • Engagement with local communities in a respectful and ethical manner, supporting community-based tourism initiatives, and ensuring that tourism benefits are distributed equitably. For example we partner with SCOTO, a network of community tourism enterprises located throughout Scotland. • Investing in community development projects that benefit local residents. For example we partner and financially support Invisible Cities who are a social enterprise training people affected by homelessness to become tour guides in their home cities. • Promoting responsible behaviour among our tour guides, driver and visitors by providing information on local customs and traditions, distributing the leave no trace code of outdoor conduct and the UK countryside code, and encouraging to support local businesses while on tour. • We are transparent about our sustainability policy and practices, regularly review them, collect feedback from stakeholder and strive for continuous improvements. This ensures that we stay accountable and take action where necessary.

Supporting Biodiversity & Conservation

We plan to support and conserve biodiversity by being dedicated to actively participating in conservation efforts and contributing to the restoration of ecosystems in the UK & Ireland. This involves supporting initiatives that protect native species, restore habitats, and promote biodiversity. To protect and conserve our local biodiversity we take following actions: • Abbey has signed up to become a business-supported of the All-Ireland-Pollinator Plan (https://pollinators.ie/), pledging to take pollinator-friendly evidence-based action. • Suggest to our management company the planting of native, pollinator friendly species in the courtyard area of our main Dublin office. We will also provide employees with information on pollinator-friendly, native planting in their own gardens. • Encourage all staff to follow wildlife-friendly practices such as avoiding the use of pesticides and herbicides, leaving an area of the garden untamed or providing insect hotels, nesting boxes and bird feeders. • Encourage staff to participate in clean-up events close to their homes and organise clean up events in the local area of the offices. • We are members of the Burren BEO Trust, Irish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Wildlife Trust and John Muir Trust. We support these financially with funds raised through regular company events organised by the social committee and the sustainability contributions of our clients, included in our offers. Going forward we want to give clients different options of nature protection and conservation projects to which they can contribute too. • We pledge to follow the “Leave no Trace” code of conduct for outdoor activities as outlined in the 7 principles. 1. Plan Ahead and Prepare 2. Be Considerate of Others 3. Respect Farm Animals and Wildlife 4. Travel and Camp Responsibly 5. Leave What You Find 6. Dispose of Waste Properly 7. Protect Nature From Fire Community engagement and relationship will be critical to the Abbey conservation journey. Abbey recognises that biodiversity and conservation are a field of constant development therefore continual reflection and improvement in this journey of supporting biodiversity and conservation will allow us to place conservation central to everything Abbey transacts.

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