Prince Harry defends taking private jets while launching new travel conservation program 'Travalyst'

Prince Harry is supporting sustainable travel in the wake of his private jet drama. The 34-year-old Duke of Sussex has launched a new initiative called Travalyst on Tuesday. Travalyst is a new global partnership “aimed at improving conservation, environmental protection and expanding local community economic development by encouraging sustainable tourism practices across the travel industry,” according to the press release. 

Harry has partnered with top travel sites like Booking.com, Ctrip, Skyscanner, Tripadvisor, and Visa to come up with “solutions that will make travel more sustainable.” 

This comes in the wake of the criticism the Duke and his wife, Meghan Markle, received for their recent trips to Ibiza, Spain and the south of France via private jet despite their regular work with sustainability and conservation. 

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We are excited to announce the launch of ‘Travalyst’, a global initiative striving to change the impact of tourism, for good. Partnering alongside key travel industry giants @Bookingcom, #Ctrip, @Skyscanner, @TripAdvisor and @Visa_US, our aim is to spark a movement to transform the future of travel, putting communities at the heart of the solution. We believe in the power and importance of travel. We also have a shared responsibility to our planet and to each other. • “I want to start with a little bit of background as to specifically why I’m here today, because as you may know, I am not a tourism or business expert, but through my travels I have observed the unique relationship between community and environment, and have noticed something alarming. There wasn’t the symbiosis or connection there needed to be and I wanted to understand why. I am one of those people fortunate enough to have a platform and I want to use it to tackle hard problems, in the hope of finding solutions…and that’s how Travalyst was born” - The Duke of Sussex The name #Travalyst comes from The Duke and partners viewing our role in sustainable travel as catalysts to accelerate positive changes in travel. Travel + catalyst = Travalyst #Travalyst aims to make travel more sustainable, to help protect destinations and benefit communities long into the future, and to enable consumers to make more environmental friendly choices whilst traveling. The Duke of Sussex, having invited the founding partners to start the conversation, believes that the organisations - with operations in nearly every country, hundreds of millions of customers that use their products every day, and business relationships around the world - have sufficient influence and the critical mass necessary to catalyse real system change in the travel industry, for the benefit of destinations, communities and ecosystems. To discover more about the new initiative, visit www.Travalyst.org

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Harry addressed the criticisms when speaking with reporters on Tuesday following the announcement. 

“I spend 99 percent of my life traveling the world by commercial and occasionally there needs to be an opportunity based on a unique circumstance to ensure that my family are safe,” the royal explained. “It’s generally as simple as that. But as I said in my speech, for me, what it is is about balance. And if I had to do that — it’s not a decision that I would want to take — but if I had to do that, I would ensure, as I have done previously and I will continue to make sure that I do, is to balance out that impact that I have. And I’ve always offset my CO2.”

Harry launched Travalyst in Amsterdam, Netherlands, joking that he had “definitely the best nights’ sleep I’ve had for the last four months.” 

The Duke and Duchess welcomed their first child, Archie, almost four months ago on May 6. 

Harry also expressed the urgency of his new initiative, saying, “After seeing and experiencing the degradation of a few of my favorite places, where natural assets are depleted and communities left feeling defeated, I knew something had to be done.” 

Several celebrities have come to Harry and Meghan’s aid in the wake of criticisms surrounding their own personal travel habits. 

Gayle King, who attended Meghan’s New York City baby shower, spoke with ET about the couple, saying, “Harry and Meghan are entitled to go on vacation… Do you think the royals are flying commercial on a regular basis? I’ll go first. No. So why are Meghan and Harry being singled out? I just think people think that they are easy targets.” 

Elton John, a close family friend, hosted the couple and paid for their private jet. He also defended them on Twitter, slamming the critics and expressing the importance of safety for Harry and his family following the tragic death of his mother, Princess Diana, in 1997. 

RELATED: Prince Harry wears this one J.Crew blazer for a ton of public appearances:

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Prince Harry wearing J.Crew's Ludlow Jacket
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Prince Harry wearing J.Crew's Ludlow Jacket

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 18: Prince Harry attends a reception with delegates from the Commonwealth Youth Forum as part of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at the Elizabeth II Conference Centre on April 18, 2018 in London, England.

(Photo by Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - JULY 11: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex view the Famine Memorial on the bank of the River Liffey during their visit to Ireland on July 11, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Zak Hussein - Pool/Getty Images)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - JULY 26: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend the Sentebale ISPS Handa Polo Cup at the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club on July 26, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 16: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex meet the public at the Sydney Opera House on October 16, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are on their official 16-day Autumn tour visiting cities in Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex laughs as an Invictus competitor puts a pair of swimming trunks on his head during the Invictus Games Cycling competition at the Royal Botanic Garden on October 21, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are on their official 16-day Autumn tour visiting cities in Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
RABAT, MOROCCO - FEBRUARY 24: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive for a reception hosted by the British Ambassador to Morocco at the British Residence during the second day of their tour of Morocco on February 24, 2019 in Rabat, Morocco. (Photo by Yui Mok - Pool/Getty Images)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - MAY 08: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, pose with their newborn son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor during a photocall in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle on May 8, 2019 in Windsor, England. The Duchess of Sussex gave birth at 05:26 on Monday 06 May, 2019. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - This official handout Christening photograph released by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex shows Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (centre left), and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex holding their baby son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor flanked by (L-R) Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Ms Doria Ragland, Lady Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, west of London on July 6, 2019. - Prince Harry and his wife Meghan had their baby son Archie christened on Saturday at a private ceremony. (Photo by Chris ALLERTON / SUSSEXROYAL / AFP) / XGTY / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / SUSSEXROYAL / CHRIS ALLERTON" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - NO COMMERCIAL USE - NO THIRD PARTY SALES - RESTRICTED TO SUBSCRIPTION USE - NO CROPPING OR MODIFICATION - NOT FOR USE AFTER DECEMBER 31, 2019 - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS / (Photo credit should read CHRIS ALLERTON/AFP/Getty Images)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attends Dr. Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots Global Leadership Meeting at Windsor Castle on July 23, 2019 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
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