Tourism for Tomorrow Newsletter February 2016
AccorHotels shares worldwide socio-economic footprint study
AccorHotels has published findings of a worldwide study into the group's socio-economic footprint, conducted by sustainability consultancy UTOPIES. The study assessed not only of the direct impacts of AccorHotels’ business activities, but also included the impact within its supply chain and in local economies for the 186 countries in which it works, across 25 sectors of the economy. It found that AccorHotels sustains around 880,000 jobs and contributes €22 billion (ca. US$25 billion) to world GDP.
Meanwhile, at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Accor's CEO urged the world's corporate leaders to do more to promote gender equality in the workplace. "It's simple: individuals doing the same work should receive the same remuneration," said Sébastien Bazin,. "That's a global issue which is linked to women's empowerment and gender equality in the workplace." For its part, Accor has pledged to have 35% women hotel managers by the end of 2017.
DESTINATION FOCUS: Airbnb and Florence sign tax agreement
Airbnb and the Italian city of Florence have signed an agreement that will see the home sharing website pay taxes for each person that books through its portal to stay in accommodation in the Tuscan city. The tax will consist of 2.50 euro per person per night paid directly upon booking online – and is estimated to bring in around 10 million euro each year. ‘At last we have the tools that, on one hand, allow us to foresee a higher income and, on the other hand, to have an advanced platform with which to monitor the city.’ said the city's mayor, Dario Nardella. ‘The agreement takes into account sustainability, tourism and the challenge of legality so that all the operators in this sector are treated in the same way.’
Although this is the first such agreement between Airbnb and an Italian city, similar arrangements are being developed around the world. Denmark's tax minister said recently that the government was exploring a model for taxing and legislating Airbnb and other 'sharing economy' companies. And in the Australian state of New South Wales the state government is reported to also be developing a system of regulation for such services.
INTERVIEW with Stephanos Theodorides, Vice-Chairman & Managing Director of TEMES SA, developers of Costa Navarino
The Greek tourism development of Costa Navarino in the region of Messinia won the WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Destination award in 2014. We spoke to Stephanos Theodorides, Vice – Chairman & Managing Director of TEMES SA, the company responsible for the development of Costa Navarino regarding the challenges of managing a destination successfully, as well as coping with the current economic crises, and plans for the future.
WTTC: How do you ensure the balance between getting enough tourism and keeping your destination beautiful and your people happy?
Stephanos Theodorides: Messinia has not yet been fully developed to the degree of other Greek regions - it is still a pristine, and fully unspoilt region, having only been on the tourist map in the past 8 years since the development of Costa Navarino.
In comparison to other destinations within Greece and as recent statistics from the Regional Development Institute data of 2014 depict, (which include regions such as Zakynthos and Corfu), Messinia is way behind and there is actually a need to increase bed and room capacity in Messinia.
WTTC: How has your community focused approach to tourism helped your destination during the recent economic crises in Greece and through Europe?
Stephanos Theodorides: The positive financial impact of our operations has helped the region to withstand the current economic crisis. Tourism has not decreased, but rather increased. By creating jobs for the local community and creating overall job stability, we have ensured our operations remain smooth and unaffected. Our work reflects our long-term vision and commitment to develop the destination - which has been fully embraced by the local community, the press and the national and international community - becoming an example of a prudent business that has brought financial returns, while working just as much for the well-being of the environment and society.
Business-wise, our practices are based on innovative methods that minimize the environmental footprint and increase our positive contribution to the well-being of the society.
WTTC: Can you tell us about any exciting developments you have planned for 2016 in Costa Navarino in terms of destination sustainability?
Stephanos Theodorides: This year TEMES, the development company of Costa Navarino, is planning to issue its first Sustainability Report using the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G4 Sustainability Reporting guidelines. We will be the first Greek tourism company to do this, which is the first step leading the way towards a more sustainable future for one of the most important sectors of the Greek economy. Through this process, together with our key stakeholders, TEMES will explore our significant economic, environmental, and social impact; evaluate our sustainable business practices; and determine the way that these can actually bring about further business value and resilience. In addition, we are planning the second area of Costa Navarino - Navarino Bay where most of the hotel building and facilities will be 'earth-sheltered'. From an architectural point of view, this will be the most sustainable approach in building construction, while retaining the natural beauty and the environmental surroundings intact.
WTTC: Thank you for your time and best wishes for your work in sustainable tourism.
The Finalists for Tourism for Tomorrow's People Category 2016
The Finalists for Tourism for Tomorrow's People Category 2016
The People category for the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards recognises companies that are dedicated to the development of capacity building, training and education to build a skilled tourism workforce for the future. This year's three finalists come from St Lucia, Cambodia, and a worldwide initiative based in the UK.
St Lucia-based Jus' Sail is committed to using its business - and its one boat - to provide meaningful skills and employment to the youth of its island, where 50% of the young are unemployed. During the off-season summer months, Jus’ Sail runs youth training programs, seeking to provide personal development experience for unemployed St Lucians that hopefully leads to sustainable employment within the yachting sector and wider travel industry.
Its success has made it clear to the wider St Lucian tourism industry that even a small business can invest in more than just its own employees' development, and that every company should look to do what it can to ensure a sustainable future for the island.
Founded in late 2009, Kinyei International is a Cambodian association that promotes youth social entrepreneurship and responsible tourism through two interconnected tourism businesses – an educational bike tour (Soksabike) and a training café (Kinyei Cafe). The projects' aim is to serve as a platform for the emergence and development of ideas, while also providing young Cambodians from disadvantaged backgrounds with the chance of employment through training in tourism and hospitality.
From such seemingly small beginnings, the two projects have already had a wide impact. In the five years of their existence, they have trained 50 staff in coffee and food service, guiding, finance, IT and management skills. Meanwhile over 15,000 guests have either passed through the cafe or taken one of their bicycle tours.
Youth Career Initiative (YCI)
Working with eleven partner hotel companies, the Youth Career Initiative (YCI) has developed a six-month education and training programme targeted at unemployed youth with limited socio-economic opportunities in 15 countries around the world. It also works with survivors of human trafficking, collaborating with the US Department of State to enable the reintegration of rehabilitated survivors through their participation in its programmes. To date, over 3,000 young people have graduated from YCI across its 15 countries, including 60 trafficking survivors. With considerable growth planned, the programme has already become a beacon to show how tourism can provide work skills that transform young and disadvantaged lives.
The Finalists for Tourism for Tomorrow's Environment Category 2016
In 2The environment category rewards tourism businesses for their efforts to protect the natural environment. This could be through the promotion of biodiversity, minimising use of scarce resources, or developing mitigation and adaptation strategies for climate change. The three finalists for 2016 work in Botswana, San Francisco and in fragile destinations across the planet.
The boat trips to visit Alacatraz are some of San Francisco's most popular attractions. On Alcatraz Cruises' ferries they are also provided by some of the most environmentally friendly boats of their kind. The boats have solar panels and wind turbines on their roofs. And last year, the company diverted 95% of its waste from landfill. It sponsors local non-profits, sets up battery recycling, and runs environmental days for tourists and members of the public. And when not ferrying tourists back and forth, it runs educational trips teaching local students about innovative energy saving technologies, the ecology of San Francisco Bay, and the impacts of climate change on the region.
Working in alliance with the National Geographic Society, Lindblad Expeditions takes guests to some of the most beautiful and diverse regions of the world, accompanied by leading scientists, naturalists and researchers. Wherever Lindblad goes, it also aims to leave behind a positive legacy, from supporting conservation projects in the Galapagos Islands – such as reforestation and the eradication of invasive species – to joining an international effort to safeguard the last wild places of the world’s oceans by exploring, surveying, and establishing marine protected areas. The money to support such projects is raised through the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic (LEX-NG) Fund, established in 2008 to provide the many people who travel on Lindblad’s expeditions with a meaningful way to give back. In just seven years it has raised US$6.1 Million, 100% of which has been invested straight back into the environments and communities Lindblad's guests experience.
At the end of the last millennium there were no wild rhino left in Botswana. Starting in 2000, however, Wilderness Safaris, working with the Botswana government, began to reintroduce both black and white rhinos back into the Okavango. During 2014 and 2015, the company facilitated the largest ever international black rhino translocation to date, airlifting them to a remote gravel airstrip deep inside the Delta. Today, fifteen years and several translocations later, viable breeding populations have been re-established in the region, widening the geographic distribution of the species at a time when poaching is threatening its survival elsewhere in southern Africa. All the while, the company has remained committed to its 4Cs ethos (Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce) and has worked closely with the communities who provide 85% of the staff at its camps. Its Children in the Wilderness programmes seek to inspire young environmental leaders to protect their natural heritage, and become custodians of these mighty creatures in the future.
INNOVATION FOCUS: UNWTO presents e-toolkit prototype to help hotels become Nearly Zero Energy
The UNWTO has partnered with the Nearly Zero Energy Hotels (NEZEH) initiative to showcase the prototype of a new tool designed to engage the tourism sector in energy efficiency. Unveiled at FITUR Green this January in Madrid, the new online toolkit is a practical instrument for hotel owners to assess their energy consumption levels and identify appropriate measures for energy efficiency improvement and reaching nearly-zero levels. It will be available from March this year.
According to NEZEH's website: "the existing building stock is responsible for 40% of total energy consumption and 36% of GHG emissions." The scheme therefore intends to accelerate the rate at which existing hotels are sustainably refurbished, turning as many as possible into ‘Nearly Zero Energy Buildings' by 2020. This will be achieved by providing technical advice to hoteliers' demonstrating the profitability, feasibility and sustainability of investments towards nearly Zero Energy; undertaking training and capacity building activities; and promoting best practice examples at national, regional and EU level. “We need to ensure the promotion and development of sustainable, resilient and responsible tourism," commented Mr. Márcio Favilla, UNWTO’s Executive Director for Operational Programmes and Institutional Relations. "This requires vision, innovation, correct planning, good management, sound monitoring and the inclusion of all the relevant stakeholders, including consumers.
Corporate Responsibility in Tourism: Just How Far Have We Come in 10 Years?
The role of corporate responsibility in tourism is the focus on the Sixteenth Annual BEST EN Think Tank. Held in Eberswalde, Germany in July this year, it will see tourism researchers, educators, policy-makers and practitioners examine how corporate responsibility has evolved in this industry over the last ten years. Delegates will explore how far the concept has spread through tourism businesses and organizations; what kinds of impacts current corporate responsibility programs in tourism actually have; and what is needed to take this further.
The two key note speakers for 2016 are Petra Thomas, General Director of Forum Anders Reisen; and Dr Xavier Font, full time member of staff at Leeds Beckett University, UK. A full list of Think Tank topics and the resources can be found on the BEST EN website.
AdventureEDU intensive training programs offered as online courses
The Adventure Travel Trade Association is now offering online courses as part of its AdventureEDU program, which provides training for governments, associations and tour operators involved in the adventure travel industry. They were previously only offered as in-destination programs.
The courses are led by specialists in professional development as it relates to adventure travel businesses. Most educators have owned or managed tour operator companies, so the courses target owner operators who want to build on already successful businesses or are starting out on a new venture.
“Going into a destination and offering an intensive on-site course is rewarding and effective, but bringing this knowledge to a wider audience is very inline with the mission of the ATTA,” said the organization’s Director of Research and Education Christina Beckmann. “Students can learn at their own pace, on their own time and gain practical tips with each lesson that they can put to work immediately.”
At this time there are three course offerings: “Marketing Strategies for Adventure Travel Companies”; “Content Marketing Strategy for Adventurous Brands”; and “Adventure Travel Business Management for Ground Suppliers.”
First multi-country Fair Trade Tourism holiday package available
Swiss tour operator Dreamtime has launched the first cross-border Fair Trade holiday package, combining urban South African experiences like a Soweto bicycle tour and a stay at Johannesburg’s hip Peech Hotel with safari at Umlani Bushcamp in South Africa’s Timbavati Private Game Reserve and a beach escape at Dunes de Dovella eco lodge near Imhambane on Mozambique’s beautiful coastline.
Fair Trade Tourism now approves tour operators who support responsible and sustainable travel in Africa by selling holiday packages in which at least 50% of the bed nights featured are spent in Fair Trade Tourism certified establishments or those certified by a mutually recognised certification scheme and which can also include Fair Trade Tourism certified activities.
Written and edited by Jeremy Smith