Tourism for Tomorrow Newsletter December 2015
New report reveals commitment to 50% carbon reduction from tourism companies
Many of the world’s biggest travel & tourism companies have improved their carbon efficiency by 20% in the last ten years and are on course to cut CO2 emissions by 50% by 2035, according to a new report from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
Travel & Tourism 2015; Connecting Global Climate Action attributes the success of its members in reducing emissions to a range of factors including increased accountability and responsibility; greater local community sustainable growth and capacity building; educating customers and stakeholders; greening supply chains; and significant capital investment and innovation.
“Much has changed in the six years since we published Leading the Challenge on Climate Change to support the global climate talks backing international agreements," said David Scowsill, President & CEO, WTTC. "The next 20 years will be characterised by our sector fully integrating climate change and related issues into business strategy, supporting the global transition to a low carbon economy, strengthening resilience at a local level against climate risks, promoting the value of responsible travel, and greening entire supply chains."
To access the full report please go to: WTTC Travel & Tourism 2015; Connecting Global Climate Action
The first major study of wildlife tourism attractions has found that despite many such attractions being harmful for the wildlife they were involved with, most tourists were unaware of any negative impact. Researchers from the University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (the same group that had been studying Cecil the Lion when he was shot) ranked a range of different animal attractions in terms of their animal welfare and conservation value. Animal welfare scores were based on such factors as the ability to behave normally, the levels of stress and freedom from pain.
The researchers then compared these ratings with many thousands of reviews left by the public on TripAdvisor. They found that only 7.8% of all tourist feedback on these attractions was negative due to conservation/welfare concerns, far less than the number the researchers considered to be negatively affecting the animals involved. “Some of the most concerning types of wildlife attractions...received overwhelmingly positive reviews from tourists,” said Neil D’Cruze, one of the study’s authors and the head of research at World Animal Protection, an animal welfare nonprofit based in London. For example, only 18% of Tripadvisor reviews for tiger attractions - which received the lowest possible animal welfare rating - mentioned concerns about the welfare of the animals. The other 82% of reviewers rated the tiger attractions as “excellent” or “very good.”
In terms of solution, D'Cruze suggested that TripAdvisor could have a very positive impact if it spread its GreenLeaders programme to cover such attractions. “There is a great opportunity for TripAdvisor to improve its service to the visiting public by including in its evaluations a score for animal welfare and conservation,” he said.
To access the original report, go to "The Customer Isn't Always Right—Conservation and Animal Welfare Implications of the Increasing Demand for Wildlife Tourism".
INTERVIEW with Jeroen Harderwijk, Co-founder and Managing Director, Asilia Africa
In 2014 safari company Asilia Africa won the WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Award in the Business Category. For Asilia, the “Big Five” are its core principles of: community, conservation, capacity, certification and commitment. With thirteen properties in Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique, it employs close to 700 people and operates in critical conservation areas where both wildlife and local economies are under threat. We spoke to the company's co-founder and managing director Jeroen Harderwijk.
WTTC: All three countries that you work in have been hit hard by poaching. What difference are tourism businesses like yours able to make in efforts to address this challenge?
Jeroen Harderwijk: It is correct that poaching is a big issue in sub-Saharan Africa hitting elephant, rhino and other key species (habitat loss is similarly bad by the way). Tourism plays a vital role in countering that challenge. Tourism is the primary counter-weighing force against poaching, in that it is the biggest revenue generator from the same wildlife and nature areas for these countries. In fact nature tourism generates much more revenues for these countries than poaching does, and in countries where for various reasons governance of nature areas is less of a challenge, such as Botswana, tourism is a primary reason why the wildlife populations there are abundant and stable and poaching minimal.
It is only natural that in developing countries with lots of poverty economic forces play a key role and that is precisely why revenues from tourism are so important for the key nature areas in sub-Saharan Africa. And on a managerial and operational level, the presence of tourism in nature areas also has the benefit of more eyes on the ground which reduces poaching in these areas. As a pioneering company going into new areas we have seen that at work multiple times with our own business.
WTTC: Can you explain more about what you call your 'collaborative conservation' approach?
Jeroen Harderwijk: What we mean by taking a collaborative conservation approach is working with all stakeholders in an ecosystem on a sensible area plan for that area. In other words, tourism partners, local communities, local authorities, game control entities and NGOs should all be aligned and work on the key priorities for that ecosystem.
The tourism industry is by nature quite fragmented, which only increases the need for collaboration. When you do get the joint vision and planning and cooperation in place, the prospects for nature areas can improve substantially, and even be turned around from being in a loss-making and deteriorating state to an economically profitable and sustainable one benefiting nature and local people alike. When that is achieved it is the most rewarding thing.
WTTC: You talk about your efforts to be a 'net-positive' business. How do you ensure that your business is not just sustainable, but is indeed 'net positive' in terms of impact?
Jeroen Harderwijk: That’s actually relatively straightforward in our business of upmarket safari tourism. The negative impact can be kept to a minimum by having a light eco-footprint in all camps and activities. The positive impact, on the other hand, can be enormous, with more than 2 full-time employees per bed; US$ 60-120 in direct contributions per guest-night to national parks and reserves; and then the various other contributions to the local economy in the form of local purchases, taxes and levies, etc.
In addition, we have a guest experience approach whereby we create awareness amongst all our guests about the various conservation and community projects in the area. Both the awareness and the donations from many guests through our ‘Asilia Giving’ platform benefit these projects. Finally, all our managers spend 5-10% of their time on our positive impact projects and initiatives.
WTTC: Thank you for your time and best wishes for your work in sustainable tourism.
WTTC now publishing long form travel features on Medium
WTTC has recently begun publishing in depth features and opinion pieces on Medium, a website dedicated to providing thought-provoking content online. WTTC's articles on Medium focus on meaningful travel stories, responsible travel, and other important issues within the sector.
Among the recent features WTTC has published there are "What Does Modern Responsible Tourism Look Like in Kenya?" where Shannon O'Donnell describes time spent in Kenya and at the Maji Moto Cultural Camp. There's also the self explanatory "Fixing Voluntourism: Building the Ark".
One of the latest posts focuses on the travel industry and its role in combating climate change: Accountability and Responsibility: How the Travel & Tourism Sector is Combating Climate Change.
When you follow the WTTC account on Medium, you will be notified every time WTTC shares a new article. The stories are also shared through WTTC's Engage page: wttc.org/engage
TreadRight Foundation Receives 2015 World Tourism Award
The TreadRight Foundation has won a 2015 World Tourism Award, presented at World Travel Market in London this November. Celebrating its 18th anniversary, the World Tourism Award was inaugurated in 1997 to recognise organisations, destinations, and attractions for outstanding initiatives related to the travel and tourism industry, and for fostering sustainable tourism and developing programmes that give back to local communities.
TreadRight, which was a Tourism for Tomorrow Awards strategic partner for 10 years to 2014, was recognised for its mission to promote sustainable travel through conservation, leadership, and education. To date, TreadRight has supported more than 35 sustainable tourism projects worldwide that have helped in many ways, ranging from saving wildlife, or conserving heritage sites, to providing clean drinking water. Partners over the years have included WildAid, the Sea Turtle Conservancy, WHOLE WORLD Water, WWF, Conservation International and many more. This past year saw TreadRight introduce the TreadRight Wildlife Initiative and the TreadRight Heritage Initiative, each providing a more specific focus to the foundation's approach to issues of sustainability.
“Over the years, TreadRight’s many sustainability project partners have been a guiding light throughout The Travel Corporation’s continuing sustainability mission," said Céline Cousteau, brand ambassador for TreadRight, on receiving the award. "Their expertise, insight, and dedication to their respective charge – from clean water, to saving wildlife, to conserving heritage sites and many more – has motivated us, focused us, and inspired us every step of the way.”
DESTINATION FOCUS: Tourists to Maldives now to pay a Green Tax to fund conservation
The Maldives began charging tourists a daily Green Tax of six US dollars as of November 1st. The country's tourism minister Ahmed Adheeb had earlier explained that the new tax is designed to finance the protection of the islands' fragile environment, which are increasingly at risk from rising seas, coral bleaching and other impacts of climate change. Guesthouses, however, will be exempt.
The news followed a similar move announced a few weeks earlier in Spain's Balearic Islands. Starting next year, anyone staying in Menorca, Majorca or Ibiza in a 4 star resort or higher, or on a cruise ship moored in one of the islands' harbours, will be charged €2 (approx. US$2.11) per day. Lesser taxes will be applied to those staying in lower grade hotels and most apartments, with the tax being halved in low season and children aged under 14 exempt.
National Geographic announces World Legacy Awards finalists
The 15 finalists for the 2016 National Geographic World Legacy Awards were announced recently, featuring some of the leading travel and tourism companies, organisations and destinations in the world across five categories.
The finalists show how varied the field of responsible tourism has become. There's Arkaba by Wild Bush Luxury - a 60,000-acre former sheep ranch in Australia that is now a thriving wildlife conservancy. Meanwhile, TIME Unlimited Tours is an Auckland-based and Maori-owned ecotourism company providing a “living cultural” experience that immerses guests in the local Maori way of life, benefiting local communities while promoting sustainable tourism. And over in the USA, Travel Oregon works with rural communities to improve their lives by supporting sustainable economic growth based upon care for local people and the environment.
“Sustainable tourism is the foundation for the future of the travel industry, and those destinations and companies that understand this today will be the global leaders of tomorrow," said Costas Christ, chairman of National Geographic World Legacy Awards. "The World Legacy Awards finalists are all about protecting the places travellers love to visit and benefiting the local people who live there."
The winners will be announced on stage at the World Legacy Awards ceremony on March 10, 2016, during ITB Berlin.
Green Globe launches new online certification system
Green Globe has launched a new online certification system designed to make it simpler for users to have greater management of their environmental indicators, CSR activities and quality assurance. Adding to the current set of sustainability tools, the new system allows all documentation to be completed in one online environment, providing easier organization for members.
“Our new Green Globe Solutions (GGS) has been developed in collaboration with our members and auditors in order to deliver a seamless experience,” said Certification & Membership Manager Birte Besocke. “We have added multiple access for all managers to be able to complete tasks associated with different criteria. Additionally members can constantly monitor their potential certification score prior to the independent audit.”
For more info on the new Green Globe Solutions, email email@example.com.
Written and edited by Jeremy Smith