Tourism for Tomorrow Newsletter April 2016
Announcing the Winners of the 2016 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards
This year's winners of the 2016 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards epitomise how global and varied responsible tourism is becoming, as they come from as far and wide as Mexico, Botswana, the Netherlands and the UK. The type of companies to have won ranges from small, community initiatives to global corporate partnerships. And between them they are using tourism to address key global issues ranging from climate change and wildlife poaching, to regenerating neglected communities and providing opportunities to young people seeking work.
The full list of 2016 Tourism for Tomorrow winners is as follows:
Community Award: Expediciones Sierra Norte, Mexico
Destination Award: Parkstad Limburg, Netherlands
Environment Award: The Botswana Rhino Conservation Project by Wilderness Safaris, Botswana
Innovation Award: Carmacal Carbon Calculator by ANVR - The Netherlands Travel Trade Association, Netherlands
People Award: Youth Career Initiative, United Kingdom & worldwide
The awards were presented at a special ceremony that took place during the 16th WTTC Global Summit in Dallas, Texas, USA on 7th of April 2016. The announcements followed a three-stage judging process including thorough on-site evaluations of all finalists. This year the process involved 36 judges and over 60 days of work in the field.
“The 2016 winners of the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards are truly inspirational examples of tourism that has a long term vision," said David Scowsill, President & CEO, WTTC. "In a world of shrinking resources, with increasing pressure on cultural heritage and local traditions, these organisations are living proof that travel and tourism can be a force for good. These companies are showing clear leadership in the industry.”
To read more about the winners and all the other finalists, click here.
INTERVIEW with Hugh Riley Secretary General & Chief Executive Officer from Caribbean Tourism Association
Secretary General of the CTO Hugh Riley is part of the Winner Selection Committee for this year's WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. We spoke with him this month about his region's work in sustainable tourism, what they are doing to protect their beaches, and the challenge of climate change.
WTTC: After the Paris Climate Agreement the CTO issued a statement endorsing the call to limit warming to below 1.5°C to protect your islands from the worst impacts of climate change. For the Caribbean - whose global emissions are relatively small yet who will feel the impacts greatly - is it more important to focus more of your efforts on adaptation or mitigation? Can you give me some examples of your approach?
Hugh Riley: Although some mitigation does take place, the approach in the Caribbean has largely been focused on adaptation measures. As you rightly indicated the Caribbean’s contribution to emissions is quite small but the impacts of climate change that will affect us can, on the contrary, be quite significant. We therefore work along with various agencies including the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and others on collaborative projects that will benefit our CTO member-countries. We recognize that with adaptation, making early decisions will be the most beneficial in potentially saving lives as well as saving money.
We engage with our members on the need to look at where and how we build tourist resorts, air and seaports, roads and other infrastructure. Some of our CTO member-countries have already begun ‘hard’ adaptation and have invested in effective coastal management systems and defences. Many have also begun to look at how their tourism developments have increased their vulnerabilities, and some have started to retrofit.
Through our conferences, workshops and webinars we cover ‘soft’ adaptation via capacity building. We let our members know for example, that coastal areas, biodiversity and availability of resources which are critical to tourism sustainability can and will be affected by climate change, and we encourage them not to take a business-as-usual approach; and so we encourage innovativeness and diversity in the types of tourism we offer our guests.
WTTC: An article this week in the Carib Journal says "80 percent of Caribbean beaches and coastal zones are eroding at an increasingly rapid rate – between 1 to 7 metres – a year, costing the Caribbean up to a US$ 1 billion annually, and putting the lives and livelihoods of well over 70 percent of our community at risk." How does the Caribbean address such an issue?
Hugh Riley: Erosion on Caribbean beaches can be due to a number of factors including loss of reefs and recurring storms and hurricanes. Of course these issues also have links to climate change, and therefore implementing varying adaptation measures is one way used by Caribbean countries to stop the loss of their beaches. Many of our CTO member-countries have indeed sought to safeguard life and livelihood by building coastal infrastructure, implementing better construction practices, assessing how they currently plan the use of their land and manage their waterfront assets.
All these positive planning and management practices will have to become second nature to us so that we can minimize coastal erosion and see the renewal of our beaches.
WTTC: Many popular destinations around the world have recently been exploring ways of limiting tourism numbers to ensure that communities don't feel swamped by visitors and that places don't lose their soul. How will the Caribbean balance the wish for sustainable growth against the need to protect places for the people that live there?
Hugh Riley: For growth to be truly sustainable, there is always the need for balance which of course will include ensuring that our communities are not adversely affected by our tourism development. Proper destination management seeks to ensure this, and the CTO has always recognized this need. In recent years we joined forces with other leading organizations who have a commitment to sustainable tourism development in the Americas to launch the Sustainable Destinations Alliance of the Americas (SDAA). SDAA partners include the Organization of American States (OAS), the Caribbean Tourism Organization, the Central America Tourism Integration System, the US Government through its Permanent Mission to the OAS, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Global NGO Sustainable Travel International as implementing and marketing partner.
SDAA seeks to harness the power of travel and tourism as a force for good in the Americas by:
· Strengthening the region’s competitiveness in the global marketplace
· Protecting the region’s land and marine resources
· Maximizing the benefits of tourism for local people
· Improving the way tourism is managed locally
· Embedding sustainability practices in the day-to-day management of destinations
This is just one initiative which demonstrates to our members that by keeping proper destination management front of mind and by making the tough decisions which benefit local communities, tourism employees and countries as a whole, sustainable growth can indeed be achieved.
WTTC: Thank you for your time and best wishes for your work in sustainable tourism.
DESTINATION FOCUS: Global Destination Sustainability Index launches
This month sees the launch of the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index), described as “the first-ever sustainability ranking for event destinations worldwide.” The index focuses on the ability of the destination and its supplier base to support corporate, association and government planners to organise sustainable events and is designed to help destinations engage business travel clients around sustainability, align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and drive the adoption, promotion and recognition of sustainable practices in their city.
In collaboration with destinations around the world, GDS-Index consultants assess over 80 criteria across 6 categories: Strategy and Stakeholder Engagement, Monitoring & Reporting, Policy and Incentives, Standards & Education, Marketing Communications and Community Development. “The unique feature of the GDS-Index is that this is a bottom-up phenomenon, driven by the destinations themselves," said Martin Sirk, CEO of ICCA, which initiated the scheme. "We believe this is an excellent platform for leaders in sustainability from every region to showcase their policies and good practices, and for any destination to swiftly improve their competitiveness.”
So far, 25 cities based in Finland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Sweden, as well as Barcelona, Geneva, Stuttgart and Sydney, have signed up.
INNOVATION FOCUS: Hilton hotels sharing energy ideas for business
In a ground-breaking collaborative exercise to reduce businesses’ energy expenditures, hotel group Hilton Worldwide took part in a Better Buildings Challenge SWAP to share ideas and experiences with US grocery chain Whole Foods Market. As part of the exchange, energy management teams at Hilton and Whole Foods Market facilities in San Francisco toured each other’s businesses and exchanged energy savings ideas. Each team identified innovative ways to save energy in Hilton San Francisco Union Square, a 1.8 million sq. foot hotel and Whole Foods Ocean Avenue, a 25,600 sq. foot grocery store.
As a result, the Hilton Worldwide team has already started implementing several recommendations, including LED lighting upgrades, door gasket replacements, and the phase-out of less efficient appliances within refrigerated containers at Hilton Union Square. Meanwhile, the Whole Foods team is exploring the implementation of employee engagement strategies inspired by what they saw at Hilton Union Square.
"Hilton Worldwide is honoured to participate in the Better Buildings Challenge SWAP," said Maxime Verstraete, vice president of sustainability and ADA compliance for Hilton Worldwide. "In collaboration with Whole Foods Market, we're leading efforts to help others understand the role that energy management plays in achieving overall corporate sustainability goals."
The Better Buildings Challenge aims to double American energy productivity by 2030, while motivating corporate and public-sector leaders across the country to save energy through commitments and investments. More than 285 organizations are partnering with the US Energy Department to achieve 20 percent portfolio-wide energy savings and share successful strategies that maximize efficiency over the next decade. Hyatt, Wyndham, IHG and MGM are also involved in the programme.
SeaWorld finally announces plan to stop breeding Orcas
Last month SeaWorld has made two announcements about how it will dramatically change its business model in the face of continuing protests and tumbling share prices. The company has announced that it will no longer breed killer whales in captivity, and that it is to shift the focus of its shows from entertainment to conservation and education. All the orcas currently in its facilities will remain, however, as SeaWorld says they would be unable to survive in the wild.
"It’s clear to me that society is shifting," commented SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby in an interview on NPR radio. "People’s view to have these beautiful, majestic animals under human care – people are more and more uncomfortable with that. And no matter what side you are on this issue, it’s clear that that’s shifting, and we need to shift with that."
Shares in the company rose 14% on the news.
Ecotourism can be "difference between survival and extinction"
Many people looking to promote the merits of ecotourism will be heartened by research published recently in PLOS ONE that showed its benefits for many of the species tourists want to see. Using a technique known as population viability modelling, a team of scientists from Australia's Griffith University developed a method that for the first time quantified the impact of ecotourism on threatened species.
The researchers looked at the impact of tourism operations on nine different species, and found that - in most cases - ecotourism has a positive impact on the wildlife in question. Of the species studied, they found that Great green macaw in Costa Rica, Egyptian vultures in Spain, hoolock gibbons in India, African penguins, African wild dogs, cheetahs, and golden lion tamarins in Brazil all benefited.
The support that ecotourism provided varied from species to species, but included the creation of private conservation reserves, habitat restoration, reduction in habitat damage, removal of feral predators, anti-poaching patrols and captive breeding programmes. "For most of the rare and endangered bird and mammal species analysed," said Griffith's University's Dr Clare Morrison, "ecotourism makes the critical difference between survival and extinction."
However, the study found that because the situations where ecotourism operates are complex and varied, sometimes circumstances meant it was unable to result in an overall positive outcome. And in just one case - that of the New Zealand sealion - the researchers for that ecotourism was actually exacerbating the problem, as it "compounds the impacts of intensive fisheries, by increasing pup mortality."
They also found that current tourism levels aren’t high enough to help orang utans in Sumatra, where the negative impact of logging on the rainforests far outweighed any good tourism brought. "In the longer term, for species under threat from extractive industries such as logging or fisheries, ecotourism can only yield an overall conservation gain if those industries are halted," argued the paper, with the only way it saw to save the orang utan being more intensive - and thus commercially viable as a replacement for logging - tourism.
Read the original research here.
Written and edited by Jeremy Smith