Its status as an industry leader is already well founded, and when it comes to sustainable tourism, TUI Travel certainly means business. One of their airlines, Thomson Airways, for example, was the first UK airline to fly customers on sustainable biofuel in 2011, and in the same year 850 of their hotels gained sustainable tourism certifications and were being promoted accordingly in brochures and websites. In addition, these certified hotels hosted two million holidaymakers. And most importantly, for the bigger picture, TUI Travel has launched a clear, measurable sustainability strategy - the Sustainable Holidays Plan 2012- 2014. Now entering the third year of this strategy, many of its missions have been met and aspirations achieved. Although there is a big corporate entity behind the helm, it has been the dedication of individuals embracing sustainable tourism in the workplace that has enabled change to be made. In TUI’s supply chain, it is the employees of 1200 hotels who worked towards gaining credible and internationally audited sustainability certifications, such as Travelife and other Global Sustainable Tourism Council recognised schemes. It is the Turkish hoteliers and farmers who collaborated, with the support of TUI and The Travel Foundation, to create the Taste of Fethiye project, which enabled 22 farmers in five villages to supply 100 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables to nearby hotels. TUI colleagues dedicated over 12,000 hours to volunteering during just one year of the Sustainable Holidays Plan, with actions like a high profile beach clean in Zante, Greece, helping Kenya’s beach operators earn a fair living and protecting turtles in Mexico. And it is individual employees who have committed to TUI’s Employee Code of Conduct which aims to create a companywide understanding of a wide range of sustainable tourism issues such as human rights and labour laws, bribery and corruption.
Cooperation of this nature is at the core of sustainable tourism and TUI has led on partnership programmes with numerous organisations in order to create change. As well as the aforementioned projects with The Travel Foundation, TUI has worked with ABTA - The Travel Association, The Born Free Foundation, Deutscher ReiseVerband, Dutch Association of Travel Agents & Tour Operators, GIZ, and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council on sustainable tourism projects. Members of TUI’s Sustainable Development team represent the organisation frequently at industry debates and seminars, enabling an open discussion of ideas and ways to move forward, with TUI never shying away from the complex issues around sustainable tourism. TUI’s vision is about ‘Making travel experiences special’. Their actions prove, however, that special also means being specialised in sustainable tourism. Not just from 2012-14 either. Because TUI does things for the long haul, not just the short.