When Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex were criticized for taking a private jet to Elton John's home in France, one thought this might be another tabloid story that would be buried by the next scandal.

The world perhaps underestimated the prince’s conscience and passion for environmental issues. His new travel sustainability initiative, Travalyst, is a massive drive to protect vulnerable travel zones and benefit local communities.

Furthermore, sustainable tourism is projected to grow by 10% to become a $340 billion business in the next four years.

Harry's massive initiative will be launched via his new charitable foundation, Sussex Royal. The foundation will partner with some of the biggest names in the travel industry, including Booking.com, Skyscanner, TripAdvisor, Ctrip, and Visa.

Their immediate goal is to raise awareness of and promote sustainable travel around the world. The group will work to help develop the economies of communities involved in the tourism industry and protect the environment by improving conservation efforts.

For many, the announcement seems like a hurried response to the backlash the Royals faced. But in reality, the initiative has been in the planning for around two years.

A combination of the words travel and catalyst, the Travalyst project seeks to accelerate positive environmental changes beginning with places that are plagued by overtourism. The program will also address climate change impacts, boost wildlife conservation efforts, and ensure that money generated from tourism goes into the local communities.

Companies that have joined Prince Harry in this travel sustainability pact have pledged to encourage sustainable tourism projects around the world and offset their carbon footprints. Another focus will be on travel experiences centered around sustainability and increased use of cleaner aviation fuel.

Skyscanner, for instance, reported that a large percentage of its users selected flights with the lowest CO2 emission level in the last year. A Booking.com survey said that seven out of 10 travelers believe brands should offer more sustainable options.

This is a big initiative and, at a time when global travel is on the rise, an effort to use a collective scale maybe the only way to transform the future of travel. The commitment from brands to work together will go a long way to cause change in this direction.

Travel companies like Intrepid Travel have been making an impact, too. Intrepid designed a community-based travel program in Myanmar where travelers stay in villages to interact with communities, learn more about the local culture, and contribute to the local economy. It is also the first company to ban the use of elephants in a tourism program and instead plan for visits to elephant hospitals and sanctuaries.

More companies in the travel industry are focusing on social and environmental responsibility and serving as models for others. The industry is making strides in sustainability, and efforts like Travalyst will help support conservation efforts and mitigate climate change.