Tourism for Tomorrow Newsletter June 2017

Sustainability boosts competitive positioning for city destinations, says whitepaperGDSI

The Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index) released their first whitepaper - Sustainable Destination Management Trends and Insights: A Path to a Brighter Future - at IMEX Frankfurt last month. It analyses data from 35 cities that took part in its 2016 GDS-Index benchmarking study to see how they are using sustainability as a means to promote their destinations for business travel and events. It highlights a set of key insights on how destinations can reinforce their strategy through: leadership, financial incentives and capacity training, strong local community and supplier engagement, and effective communication about sustainability. 

“Cities are the growth engines of the future, representing beacons of opportunity that carry the promise of education, employment and prosperity,” said Sébastien Tondeur, to CEO of MCI that conducted the research: The MICE industry has a critical role to play in supporting cities with the adoption of key sustainability practices. I am delighted to see how the GDS-Index is promoting a “Path to a Brighter Future” for destinations around the world”.  

Created through a partnership between ICCA, ICCA’s Scandinavian Chapter, IMEX and MCI Group, the GDS-Index is the first-ever sustainability ranking for event destinations worldwide. It promotes the sustainable growth of international meeting destinations, highlighting best practices and responsible business tourism. 



85% of offsets failed to reduce emissions, says EU studyCarbon Offset

Almost all carbon offsets don’t work, says recently published research by the European Commission. The study, titled How additional is the Clean Development Mechanism?, was conducted in 2016 and published last month. According to the report, “85% of the projects covered in this analysis, and 73% of the potential 2013-2020 supply, have a low likelihood that emission reductions are additional and not over-estimated. Only 2% of the projects and 7% of potential supply have a high likelihood of ensuring that emission reductions are additional and not over-estimated.”

Meanwhile, according to data from the Commission, Europe’s aviation industry saw its annual emissions rise 8% in 2016 to 61.6 million tonnes of CO2e, while emissions from all other European transport sectors declined. And last year the aviation industry hailed a “landmark accord” on climate change that it said would enable it to deliver “carbon neutrality” by 2020,  yet relied heavily on the purchase of offsets. 

Andrew Murphy, who analyses the industry for Brussels-based Transport and Environment, called the report “a wake-up call to the world that relying solely on offsets to address aviation’s climate impact is unsustainable. Instead, the EU needs to pursue policies such as fuel taxation, ending subsidies, reforming the EU ETS [emissions trading system], and ceasing support for airport expansion.”



Four Seasons partners with Indonesia’s First Bee Conservation ProgramPlan Bee

The Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan has linked up with local farmers on a project designed to help bee populations on the island, setting up two hives, each with 10,000 indigenous apis cerana bees, in a secure and secluded location only accessible to staff. 

The hives have been established as part of Indonesia’s first bee conservation and community enterprise program, Plan Bee Indonesia. launched in Bali, Plan Bee is a grassroots initiative that brings together farmers and forest honey gatherers to help them address colony collapse disorder, which poses a huge risk to agriculture pollinated by bees around the world. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the value of honey bee population to global crops was estimated at close to $200 billion in 2005. 

Plan Bee has created bee centres in remote West and North Bali, bringing together farmers and forest honey gatherers, whom it connects with new customers for their sustainably-harvested honey; promotes skills sharing to minimise use of pesticides in farming; and installs new hives to increase the bee population.

“The threat facing bees, food production and therefore life in general cannot be ignored,” said Plan Bee founder, Amanda Garland Hunt. “When we heard about the situation in Indonesia, we felt compelled to take action as friends of the bees. It’s still early days, but we are so inspired by the support from Four Seasons and the Bali community, and the involvement of farmers who have really gotten behind the Plan Bee mission.”

Four Seasons Sayan is the exclusive hotel founding partner of the program. The hotel will now produce its own  Four Seasons Wild Sayan Honey for use in the Resort’s restaurants, cocktails, cooking classes and spa treatments.



Tourism and the SDGs: Goal 9 - Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureSDGs

For the last four years, WTTC’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards have featured an Innovation Category, recognising some of the most creative and impactful sustainable tourism initiatives in the world, created by companies big and small. These include this year’s runner up, Soel Yachts, whose new solar powered boat can not only cruise while 100% powered by the solar panels on its roof, it can also be plugged into the resort’s power supply when in dock and act as a floating solar array. 

Or Chilean Chepu Ecolodge, a finalist in 2014, that manages to run a sustainable ecolodge entirely off grid. Particularly remarkable is its approach to monitoring and managing water. All of the water used at the lodge comes from rainwater harvesting, gathering water in a 16,000 litre well in addition to two 5,000 liters tanks. A water management system then tracks exactly how much water (and energy) is being used, and informs guests of what they are using through in room tablets.  There is also a screen in the main hall that displays the information for anyone to see. Guests are rewarded with either a tree planted in their name or discounts on the bill if they stay within the sustainable ‘ecolimits’ the lodge advises for resource use during their stay. As a result, Chepu has found that no more than 1% of its guests exceed the suggested maximum amount of water. 

While both of these companies were recognised by the Innovation award, you could also highlight many finalists in other categories - whether they are hotels such as Grootbos, Feynan Ecolodge or Laguna for their approaches to building sustainable infrastructure; or industry-supporting schemes such as the Youth Career Initiative, which developed a six-month training programme for unemployed youth with limited socio-economic opportunities in 15 countries around the world. Indeed, the scale of the tourism industry, combined with its reliance on hotels and related infrastructure, means it is well placed to address the challenges of Goal 9. 



Accessible Tourism Interview - Dr Venu, Kerala Tourism’s tourism principal secretaryDr Vesnu

Last month it was widely reported in the Indian national press that the Indian state of Kerala was to make all of the state’s tourism facilities disabled friendly. To find out more about the significance of the announcement, WTTC spoke with Kerala Tourism’s tourism principal secretary Dr V Venu, widely recognised as the driving force behind Kerala Tourism’s popular Rural and Responsible Tourism initiatives.

WTTC: Kerala has committed to making all of the state's tourism facilities disabled friendly. How is it progressing and what are the biggest challenges?

Dr Venu: The Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala (generally referred to as Kerala Tourism) provides funding to small projects that create facilities and infrastructure useful for tourists in destinations across the state. As the first step towards providing more services to the disabled, Kerala Tourism has taken a decision that all public facilities that are funded by the department will have to make provisions for the disabled. A set of guidelines have been prepared and released for guiding those agencies preparing projects. The guidelines have just been released, but we are hopeful that these will be used not only for new projects, but also for projects that have been completed. 

It is a small beginning. We will be following this up with meetings with agencies running museums, cultural centres and shopping zones, to encourage them to adopt these guidelines and make modifications on site. The challenge will be to convert popular tourist sites and making these disabled friendly.

WTTC: The focus appears to be mostly on ensuring access to those with physical disabilities. Are you also working to make facilities accessible to those with sensory and mental disabilities?

Dr Venu: At this point of time, we are concentrating on physical disabilities. 

WTTC: Will you be insisting the private sector follows your lead?

Dr Venu: The classification system that awards stars to properties has already incorporated features for the disabled as mandatory items that need to be present in every hotel. But there are numerous establishments like homestays, lodges and houseboats that are not part of this system. 

Kerala Tourism intends to run workshops and conduct programmes to raise awareness on this, and provide the information and tools to those interested in upgrading their properties to disabled friendly. We are also seeking the advice and expert inputs from specialised tour operators who work with disabled guests in order to create a robust framework.



Airbnb among first companies to receive new kitemark for sharing economy

Airbnb Logo

Home sharing platform Airbnb has been awarded the Trustseal,the world’s first kitemark for the sharing economy. Last year the UK trade organisation Sharing Economy UK launched Trustseal to help develop guidelines for the rapidly developing sharing economy. The kitemark criteria assesses companies against eight principles of Good Practice, including identity verification, criminal and background checks, customer help and support, secure payments and data protection. Airbnb, 

"The TrustSeal is an important development to set standards and expectations for users and to continue building trust,” said Airbnb general manager for Northern Europe James McClure. “We're proud to be one of the first sharing economy businesses to be awarded with the accolade." 



Caribbean Tourism Organization and Travel Foundation launch online training courseTraining course

The Caribbean’s tourism development agency, the CTO, and the Travel Foundation have collaborated on a free online sustainable tourism course designed to help people in the region learn how best to develop Caribbean tourism sustainably.  

The online capacity building course explores the issues around positive and negative impacts from tourism to host communities; it features relevant case studies for the region; suggests tools for conservation and responsible use of resources; and offers strategies that countries can employ to develop and implement their own national initiatives. 

It is divided into six modules including:  understanding sustainable tourism in the global context of climate change; increasing the socio-economic benefits of tourism; protecting cultural and built heritage; managing the environmental impacts of tourism; and planning the sustainable development of each destination.

“The Caribbean Tourism Organization is pleased to partner with the Travel Foundation to offer this course which provides a roadmap to destination success, with the aim of enhancing regional knowledge and competencies in the theory and practice of sustainable tourism,” said Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the CTO.  “It is well known that the region is the world’s most tourism-dependent region, therefore, it is imperative that tourism is developed in a manner that ensures long-term benefits and value for Caribbean residents and visitors alike, even as we endeavour to position ourselves as the world’s most desirable, year-round warm weather destination.”

The online training programme is available free of charge to ministries, government departments, tourism authorities and tourist boards engaged in destination management in CTO member countries - it can accessed here:





Arctic tourism groups create guidelines for community visits 

Five Arctic tourism organizations have produced a set of responsible tourism guidelines aimed at tourists visiting Arctic communities.

Created by the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), Visit Greenland, Cruise Iceland, Visit Svalbard and the Northern Norway Tourist Board, the guidelines promote a ‘Leave No Trace’ ethos and respect for community beliefs and customs.

As well as a set of community guidelines, the group has created a set of Community Specific Guidelines, which offer a template designed to be a starting point for communities that want to work with tour operators to educate visitors on how they can make a positive impact. The idea is that by enabling communities to customise guidelines to their specific needs around a common format it will make it easier for tourists and operators to quickly understand what they should keep in mind in each place they visit.

“We are working to promote sustainable tourism in the Arctic, and social and cultural interactions between visitors and locals are an important part of that,” said AECO executive director Frigg Jørgensen. “We know that many Arctic communities welcome the economic opportunities associated with increased tourism. We want to educate tourists and tour operators on how they can make sure that their visit benefits the local community.”

The Community Guidelines are available here, and the template for Community Specific Guidelines here





Seychelles conference to explore tourism’s role on Small Island Developing StatesA view from Mahe Seychelles main island

This November, the Indian Ocean island of Mahe will host a conference aimed at tourism professionals, academics and practitioners from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) looking to develop an integrated practical approach to sustainable tourism in SIDS. Its two main themes are Tourism´s Social Responsibility and Cultural Protection in SIDS; and Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas.

Taking place from 22-26 November 2017, at the University of Seychelles, on Mahe, Seychelles, the event looks to combine academic tourism research with best practice examples, and aims at connecting the various stakeholders working and researching the environmental and socio-cultural development of the tourism industry. Academics and practitioners with relevant sustainable tourism research and projects related to the two main conference themes to are therefore encouraged to submit 500 word abstracts by 30 June 2017 on a range of issues including:
- Evaluating the financial and economic benefits of tourism in protected areas
- Impacts on biodiversity of Protected Areas tourism
- Tourism concessions and partnerships for tourism
- Community benefits and socio-economic linkages
- Destination management and the application of standards and certification tools for protected areas (e.g. IUCN Green List, GSTC Criteria, certification etc)

All papers should be sent to



Written and edited by Jeremy Smith

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