Tourism for Tomorrow Newsletter July 2017

Wildlife traffickers continue to profit from vulnerabilities in the global air transportation system, finds report

Criminals are exploiting the air transport sector to smuggle protected and endangered animals and animal products on commercial flights, finds a new report. The report, “Flying Under the Radar: Wildlife Trafficking in the Air Transport Sector,” analysed seizures of ivory, rhino horn, birds and reptiles at airports between January 2009 and August 2016.

According to the report, China —largely due to its role in the ivory trade — had the most seizures, followed by Thailand and the United Arab Emirates. The United States ranked tenth. Overall, 114 countries had at least one instance of wildlife trafficking in the air transport sector during the period covered by the report.

“This analysis provides a global perspective on what many in the airline industry are already seeing at the regional level: transport infrastructure is being abused to facilitate the trafficking of wildlife,” says Michelle Owen, Lead for the ROUTES Partnership, which produced the report. “There are a variety of low-cost and high-impact solutions available that airports and airlines can take to help address this issue. ROUTES is developing resources to raise awareness and build capacity within the air transport sector, and to support leaders within the transport industry who have made commitments to assist with tackling wildlife trafficking.”

The report also provides recommendations for preventing wildlife trafficking through the air transport sector. These include creating awareness among personnel and passengers, training air industry staff, strengthening enforcement seizure protocols and reporting and sharing seizure information.

The illegal wildlife trade constitutes the fourth largest black market in the world - worth around $20 billion a year. 

The report can be downloaded here.





Airbnb partners with World Bank to enhance rural tourism, and launches programme to boost community tourism in EuropeAirbnb Logo

Airbnb has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the World Bank Group to help rural and underserved communities share in the benefits of growing interest in tourism. Signed in June at the 2017 Tourism Knowledge Exchange, the partnership will study the impact home sharing has on communities, and how increased tourism revitalizes local economies. According to Airbnb, hosts keep 97 percent of what they charge for their listing.

Starting in the Asia Pacific with Sri Lanka and India, the partnership will look to provide training on home sharing and hospitality standards; improve digital literacy skills; and share data to measure the impact of home sharing on rural economies. “At Airbnb, we believe home sharing can help close the widening gap in economic opportunity between urban and rural areas,” said Clark Stevens, director, Government Affairs and Strategic Partnerships at Airbnb. “We’ve already seen the important economic engine that home sharing has become for communities around the world, and we’re excited to partner with the World Bank Group to further study the development impacts of home sharing and pilot projects in emerging tourist destinations.”

Meanwhile, in Europe the company has launched a €5m Community Tourism Programme designed to support community-based initiatives that enable locals to shape and benefit from more sustainable tourism focussed in particular on three themes: Imagining and reinventing public spaces to build community for locals and visitors alike; Reinventing the tourism and travel space by sparking entrepreneurship and strengthening local economies; Preserving or celebrating local festivals and events while introducing them to a broader, appreciative audience. The deadline for entries is 5 August 2017. Get more info here





GSTC regional conference in Chile to focus on Management, Marketing, and AwarenessGSTC Chile

Under the title ‘Towards More Sustainable Destinations: Management, Marketing, and Awareness’, the GSTC’s next regional conference will take place from September 6-9, in Aysén, Chile. The programme will feature mixture of plenary sessions and breakouts with international and national experts in sustainable tourism as speakers, panelists, and panel moderators. 

Speakers include Luigi Cabrini, Chairman, GSTC; Hernan Mladinic, Executive Director, Fundación Pumalín; and Lonneke de Kort, CEO; and Carolina Morgado
Director, Tompkins Conservation Chile. Topics addressed will include: Marketing sustainable tourism, Destination management for climate change adaptation, Sustainable tourism awareness and education, Sustainable hotel management, and Indigenous tourism. 

A full programme will be published later this month.







Tourism and the SDGs - Goal 6 - Clean Water and SanitationSDGs

At the end of June on of the world’s most popular city destinations, Cape Town, announced plans to issue a “Day Zero” drought strategy. Although there has finally been some rain in the last few weeks, as I write the city’s dam levels effectively stand at 14%, with officials saying it will need “a few normal years” to recover. According to an article last month in the LA Times: “hotels have taken steps to reduce water usage, asking guests to use hand sanitizers instead of water, limit use of towels, not to run taps when cleaning teeth or soaping hands and to limit the length of showers. Some hotels provide place updates on the dam levels in guest rooms to encourage water economy. Hotels are installing water recycling systems and water restrictors on taps to cut water flow.”

Water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of people around the world, and this figure is will only grow as climate change warms the planet. Set against this, tourism is often seen as using an excess of water. As the Cape Town example shows, in the coming years the sector will be expected to rein in its demands.

The most innovative tourism companies are going beyond this, and looking to support the communities around them improve their access to clean water. Sri Lankan hotel chain Cinnamon was a Tourism for Tomorrow finalist in 2017. Its Cinnamon Yala lodge works with the other lodges and camps in the park to fill the park’s watering holes during droughts. Elsewhere whitewater rafting company Rivers Fiji, a finalist in 2015, has collaborated with indigenous landowners and the local logging company to create a 16km long river conservation that protects both the surrounding forest and keeps the river clean from logging waste run-off. 

While Cinnamon and Yala respond to the local situation, there are opportunities for companies working everywhere, which could simply be achieved by adjusting the way standard processes operate. Radisson Blu has reworked its towel reuse scheme through a partnership with water charity Just a Drop to fund clean water for families in Africa. For every 250 towels that guests reuse, the hotel chain will donate enough money to Just a Drop to provide clean water for a child for life. Guests will learn how many children were provided with drinking water through the hotel’s in bathroom cards, with Radisson Blu hoping to ensure 12,000 children have access to fresh drinking water each year.





Accessible Tourism Interview - Robin Shepperd, Bespoke Hotels



Founded in 2000 by Haydn Fentum and Robin Sheppard, Bespoke Hotels is now the UK’s Largest Independent Hotel Group and represents over 200 properties worldwide. Last year it launched the Bespoke Access Awards, an international design competition, looking to recognise original ideas to improve access and provide an enhanced experience for hotel guests, particularly for those with disabilities, while making the hotel experience more joyful and inclusive. Robin Sheppard spoke with WTTC:

WTTC: Having launched the Bespoke Access awards, what inspired you about the quality of the entrants you received?
Robin: We were delighted both with the quality of entries and diversity of their origin. We attracted entrants from across the world and were pleased to see the competition was inspirational and sparked the creativity of budding designers and architects - which was the original point!
WTTC: Why do you think much of the industry is slow to take up the challenge of adopting a more universal approach to accessibility?
Robin: It's a complicated issue, and as such I think it is down to a combination of factors. Of course the cost to update the physical character of a given hotel or building is a hindrance in many cases, but there is a perception issue at play as well. Many businesses approach accessibility in the same way they approach fire safety - as a box to be ticked on a training form, rather than as an area of service at which to excel. In turn, many members of staff are extremely conscious of making perceived "mistakes" when dealing with disabled guests, primarily due to a lack of understanding and absence of familiarity. As a result, they tend to be more standoffish and tread on eggshells at times. It all boils down to education, in other words.

WTTC: What will it take to make it change?
Robin: Education, first and foremost. I believe the issue can be addressed by raising awareness, encouraging staff to ask questions and further their understanding, which will in turn help demonstrate the value of an inclusive approach. All of which, ultimately, will help to loosen the purse-strings of owners and make the issue seem like more of an opportunity, and less about red tape.







Iceland launches sustainable tourism pledge

Iceland pledge


Over 16,000 people have signed a pledge to travel more responsibly in Iceland since it was launched last month. Destination marketing organisation launched ‘The Icelandic Pledge’ - an online agreement enabling tourists to sign onto a series of commitments for when visiting the North Atlantic Island. 

The pledge also serves to promote the country as a destination, since its language combines positive descriptions of the Icelandic tourist experience with exhortations towards responsible travel. These include: “When I explore new places, I will leave them as I found them.” “I will follow the road into the unknown, but never venture off the road.” “When I sleep out under the stars, I’ll stay within a campsite.” “And when nature calls, I won’t answer the call on nature.”

The pledge can be signed here.







Airbnb launches new platform to provide free housing for refugees 

Home sharing platform Airbnb has launched a new platform designed to enable its hosts to provide accommodation for refugees and displaced people. Anyone willing to share their space with a refugee for free can volunteer to open their home by visiting The price of participating homes will be set at zero dollars and Airbnb will collect no fees.Airbnb Logo

In order to implement the platform, Airbnb has partnered with various organisations working with refugees around the world. Initial partners include: SINGA Quebec, Inland Refugee Society of British Columbia, Kinbrace, Singa France, Refugiés Bienvenue, Elan Samusocial and SolidarityNow. Due to the regions where these organisations work, the platform is currently only available in France, Canada, Greece, Germany, Italy, the USA and Spain, although the company says it will extend this as it establishes partnerships with other organisations. 

“Refugees are fleeing war, persecution or political upheaval,” commented David Miliband, International Rescue Committee (IRC) president and CEO. “They are resettling because they have been forced out of their homes. Most refugees arrive with nothing and must start over — they need work, money, education and, straight away, they need housing. By connecting hosts willing to open their homes with families in need, Airbnb will help us cut the time and expense of moving refugees from harm to home. Perhaps just as important, this sort of home sharing allows people to make real connections and to build lasting relationships.”

It’s not the first time the company has looked to provide support to displaced people. Earlier this year, in response to US president Trump’s initial call for a ban on allowing refugees into the US, which resulted in travelers from several Muslim-majority countries being detained or in limbo at airports around the world, Airbnb’s co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky tweeted: "Airbnb is providing free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the US. Stayed tuned for more, contact me if urgent need for housing".






UNWTO creates draft framework for measuring Sustainable Tourism 


The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has published a draft framework to support the measuring of industry data that will assist in measuring and developing sustainable tourism. On the final day of the recent International Conference on Tourism Statistics, which took place on 21-24 June 2017 in the Philippines, delegates released the  “Manila Call for Action on Measuring Sustainable Tourism” to support work towards a set of universal and standard metrics that will help nations in capacity building for the industry.

The Call for Action states that the delegates: “Strongly believe that developing and implementing a MST (Measuring Sustainable Tourism) Framework is the critical next step in understanding, analysing and supporting universal, cross-sectoral, sustainable tourism policies and practices that work from an integrated, coherent and robust information base.”

The draft framework will be presented to the United Nations Statistical Commission for its consideration in the UN Statistical Commission’s fifty-first session, to be held in 2020, as the UNWTO sets aside funding to continue developing the draft for presentation and eventual implementation.

For more on the UNWTO’s work on measurement and statistics see: 






Written and edited by Jeremy Smith





Tourism for Tomorrow in the news : A selection of news articles from last month