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Kind Traveler Adds SLO to Destinations Where ‘Every Stay Gives Back’

Kind Traveler’s responsible-tourism model now helps San Luis Obispo, California further its tree-planting efforts and progress toward its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2035.

This week, Kind Traveler — a responsible travel platform empowering visitors to positively impact local communities — announced San Luis Obispo, California as the latest addition to its Every Stay Gives Back program.

Through the partnership with Visit San Luis Obispo, every guest staying overnight in any of its 42 hotels will contribute to the planting of new trees in the city through the tourism bureau’s Keys for Trees program — enhancing the city’s green space with each visit and advancing its climate-action goals.

Nestled in California’s Central Coast, a lush wine-growing region sandwiched between Monterey County to the north and Santa Barbara County, the City of San Luis Obispo (affectionately referred to as “SLO”) has a goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2035 — making it an ideal choice for sustainability-conscious travelers. The Keys for Trees initiative supports SLO’s goal of planting 10,000 new trees, one part of the City’s Climate Action Plan: which also includes ongoing efforts to use cleaner energy, encourage alternative means of transportation, and prioritize legislation that enhances sustainability — including banning single-use plastics and investing in electric buses. By cutting local climate pollution and adapting to local climate impacts, SLO is doing its part to slow climate change, provide habitat for wildlife, keep its buildings and streets cool, and preserve the quality of life in San Luis Obispo for decades and generations to come.

“San Luis Obispo prides itself on being a longtime trailblazer of sustainability efforts,” said Molly Cano, Economic Development & Tourism Manager for the City of SLO. “We were the first city in the US to ban indoor smoking, we’re home to the first solar-powered movie theater, and we have no drive-thrus. Partnering with Kind Traveler to help share Keys for Trees and our big dreams of making a small difference for the planet is a natural and exciting step for us.”

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Keys for Trees was created to support the City’s Climate Action Plan, wherein the San Luis Obispo Tourism Business Improvement District dedicates one percent of its annual revenue to help plant 10,000 trees throughout the community in partnership with a local tree-planting nonprofit EcoSLO. As the first US destination to launch this type of initiative funded by local hotels, SLO hopes to inspire other destinations to consider this model that makes it easy for guests to help preserve the destinations they visit and love.

Artisan-made wood plaques are now at the front desk of every hotel in SLO with a QR code that links to a live impact report, providing visitors with details about the Keys for Trees program and inviting them to celebrate the fact that their stay has made a positive difference. The impact report features an educational travel guide, making it easy for guests to have fun in SLO while maximizing their positive impact. The enhanced layer of communication, education and third-party validation creates transparency around the funds raised from every guest stay and invites the visitor on a mutual journey toward SLO’s carbon neutrality. Since Keys for Trees launched in 2021, more than $50,000 has been donated to EcoSLO — resulting in dozens of trees planted throughout the city.

“While giving back to local charities connected to destination wellbeing helps create a sustainable future, studies share that it’s also related to higher levels of trip satisfaction for visitors,” stated Jessica Blotter, CEO & co-founder of Kind Traveler. “Kind Traveler is thrilled to launch a revolutionary, responsible tourism model with Visit San Luis Obispo while helping to make future visits to SLO more purposeful, meaningful and memorable.”

Travelers are increasingly interested in trips that improve the communities they visit. According to Kind Traveler’s 2022 Impact Tourism Report, 97 percent of travelers want their travel dollars to positively impact the communities they visit; and 75 percent agree traveling sustainably enhances their vacation experience. Despite this, half of travelers say they don’t know how to start. This new partnership makes it easier for anyone wanting to make a positive impact on the environment, knowing that just staying in SLO will better the community and planet.

Launched in September 2023, Kind Traveler's Every Stay Gives Back community-impact program features a collection of destinations, boutique gems, glamping experiences, and luxury resorts from around the world, where every guest stay with participating lodging and destination partners funds local charities that are important to the community — regardless of where travelers book.

From planting trees in Hawaii and healing wildlife on Catalina Island to funding afterschool programs in Costa Rica and supporting farm animals in Sonoma County, Every Stay Gives Back ensures traveler dollars help fund positive change in each region; so far in 2024, Kind Traveler says 44 participating hotels have raised over $139K for their communities through the program.

Now, travelers who visit SLO and stay with participating accommodation partners such as Hotel SLO can see live impact reports and communication tools that make it easy to see how their travel creates a positive impact, as well as other ways to travel sustainably. Through the partnership, Hotel SLO is also raising funds for the Surfrider Foundation.