Tourism for Tomorrow Newsletter October 2017

Only four weeks left to apply for the 2018 Tourism for Tomorrow awards

2018 T4T

There are just four weeks left to apply for the 2018 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. Candidates can apply in one of five categories: Community Award, Destination Award, Environment Award, Innovation Award and People Award. There is detailed information here on how best to apply, as well as information on the judging process.

For anyone seeking further inspiration, the stories of six former winners and finalists are also featured on WTTC’s new Transforming Our World website. In a series of revealing videos, they each offer an insight into how tourism has transformed their world, or how they use tourism to transform other people’s worlds. 

Tourism and The SDGS - partnership for the goals


Over the past 16 months, a series of articles in this newsletter have looked at how tourism can work to support each of the SDGs. This final post focusses on SDG17 - partnerships for the goals. There are two examples of such partnerships we highlight in this newsletter. First, we interview Fran Hughes, Director of the International Tourism Partnership, about her organisation’s recent announcement that its member hotels have announced their shared commitment to a sustainable Vision for 2030 to unite for commitments to four Sustainable Development Goals. And later, we report on how the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) has partnered with the United Nations Development Programme to ensure sustainable tourism across the many remote islands it represents. 

As with the partnership between the SPTO and UNEP, effective partnerships often involve tourism companies looking outside of the industry. In 2016, a partnership between The Travel Foundation, TUI Group, and PwC was a finalist in the Tourism for Tomorrow innovation category for its “Measuring Tourism’s Impact” project, a ground-breaking pilot scheme in Cyprus that looked to put a monetary value to the economic, tax, environmental and social impacts of tourism on the Mediterranean island. 

Elsewhere, Radisson Blu has redeveloped and brought transparency and measurable impact to its towel reuse programme by partnering in recent years with water charity Just a Drop. Now, for every 250 towels that guests reuse, the hotel donates to Just a Drop to provide clean water for a child for life. Meanwhile, guests learn about the scheme and its impact through the hotel’s in-bathroom cards, with Radisson Blu looking to guarantee 12,000 children have access to fresh drinking water each year.

The reach and complexity of the tourism supply chain means that the scope for meaningful partnerships is vast. Depending upon the specifics of a company’s operations, there is potential to impact on many of the different SDGs. At a time when the industry’s impacts are facing a backlash in cities and destinations around the world, collaborating with locally based groups and communities therefore offers the chance to both act and be seen as a responsible corporate citizen. 

Interview: ITP’s Fran Hughes on a new hotels partnership to deliver SDGS

Fran ITPThe International Tourism Partnership - which represents over 25,000 member hotels from some of the most recognisable brands in the world, has just announced an industry first partnership, whereby its members have committed to four SDG goals which address the industry's most critical environmental and social issues. The four goals are Youth Employment, Carbon, Water and Human Rights. We speak to ITP’s Director Fran Hughes about the partnership and its significance
WTTC: You have chosen four of the SDGs to focus on. Can you explain why you chose those four?
Fran: These issues have been identified through extensive stakeholder engagement as the most pressing social and environmental issues the industry faces and where there is significant opportunity to collaborate. They are important now because, as sector, we need to be clear on how we are collaborating to drive sustainable growth and contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Each goal aligns specifically to one or more SDG targets.
WTTC: The figures you give for the carbon commitment are significant. You have stated that “The hotel industry must reduce its absolute carbon emissions by 66% by 2030 and 90% by 2050 to stay within the 2 degrees C threshold” Can you explain how you think the sector might best achieve these reductions?
Fran: They are significant, but we believe that they are achievable. The figures are representative of the level of reduction the whole hotel sector needs to decouple its growth from growth in emissions. The reductions needed by individual companies may vary from this, depending on where they are located and their infrastructure.
In early November we will publish our research which indicates the pathways hotel companies need to take to achieve these reductions. On the technical side, no big surprises that we will be highlighting how hotels need to get more efficient, more renewable and more electrified. The technology exists today to fully decarbonise the sector. Solving the issue of climate change turns to how to accelerate the solutions currently available. To do so, hotel industry leaders will need to support an evolution of thought and approach to make it happen, through how carbon is priced and projects are financed.
We are supporting our members with research and best practice sharing to build their capacity to develop science-based targets. Going forward we want to explore opportunities to collaborate where we can deliver carbon reductions at scale.
WTTC: What risks do you think the hotel sector faces if it doesn't meet the goals you have agreed?
Fran: These goals are a journey. Not everyone knows how they are going to get there, not everyone is at the same stage on the journey, but they do know that there is only one direction of travel. ITP is convening the industry to ensure that we develop roadmaps for each Goal with realistic and practical steps to drive progress and measure impact. There is a much bigger risk in not engaging in these issues for fear of failure than of working towards these Goals and not quite making it. We need to move together as an industry on these issues as they are too challenging for any one company to address on their own.




WTTC Interview: Gloria Guevara Manzo President & CEO, WTTC

gloriaIn August, Gloria Guevara Manzo became the new president and CEO of the WTTC. She has previously served as Secretary of Tourism for Mexico and CEO of the Mexican Tourism Board from 2010 to 2012. Before that she was CEO of Sabre de Mexico.

WTTC: From you background with experience with government, academia and business, do you see the solution to overtourism as being driven primarily by government or business?

Gloria: I see the answer as a combination of government and business working together, and that also must involve individual travellers and host communities as well. We also have to acknowledge that while there are issues in certain specific destinations, it is often more complex than just to focus on the challenges. For example, when I first visited Barcelona in the 1980s, there was little international tourism and I was advised to avoid Las Ramblas as it was too dangerous. Now of course the city is thriving and incredibly popular with tourists - without the visitors, however, would the city be thriving as it is? We have commissioned research from Mckinsey into the issue of overtourism, and will be presenting the findings in Barcelona on December 13, so when it comes to the specifics of how to address the issues, I think it is important we wait until that work is done.

WTTC: Beyond overtourism, what would you consider the key social and environmental issues confronting industry over next few years, and how can WTTC help tackle them?

We need to work out how to protect the natural resources that are our assets so that future generations can enjoy them as we do now. When I was at Harvard I spent a lot of time studying the connections between environmental health and public health. We need to better see the connections between the two of them, and between a flourishing travel sector as well. 

What I mean is that when we look after our environment,  and so have clean water and fresh air etc, then this has a very significant impact on our ability to look after our public health. And this again underpins our ability to focus on social issues - crime, poverty etc. When you have a healthy environment, and a healthy public living in it, this creates the conditions for people to flourish - visitors want to travel to these places, and the locals want to use their wealth and wellbeing to travel and explore other places too. 

WTTC: The theme for World Tourism Day this year is tourism for development. What are the particular challenges and opportunities for tourism in terms of delivering sustainable development?

Gloria: The key is proper planning. So in the case of a place that maybe doesn’t have a lot of tourism yet, but wants to invest in becoming a significant destination, well it’s government has to plan for what this might look like, and what it will take. And when we look at destinations that are already established, then they need to look at their current situation and work out what is needed to develop this sustainably. The question they need to ask themselves - whatever stage in their development as destinations they might be - is how do we ensure more quality, rather than just more quantity?

As I see it, every destination has something unique - its DNA - and this is what destinations need to spend time focussing on. Once they understand what is so special about them as a place, then they can design a tourism product that supports this and protects it. They can look to offer a wide range of quality tourism offerings that mean that when a tourist comes, they don’t just stay in their hotel but venture out into the destination because there are so many experiences available to them that epitomise this destination’s ‘DNA’. That way they are spending their money in the local community in a wide range of places, they are supporting enterprises that embody the very characteristics that make the place livable for locals as much as for tourists, and this means tourism can make sure the benefits of their visit stay in the destination.

WTTC: The call for entries for the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards has just been made. What do you see as the role of such a scheme?

Gloria: It’s great that these awards recognise such initiatives that really are examples of best practice across our industry. It’s great they get a chance to showcase their stories. Now I think we need to start exploring how we expand this to the next level. We need to look at how we can replicate their successes around the world. 

Climate change increasing in significance for hotels, finds report

Green lodging40% of hotels responding to the 2017 Green Lodging Report said climate change has a significant impact on their decisions regarding operational improvements and investments. Last year, the figure was 28%. They also reported that 50% of their guests (up from 28%) had asked about carbon offsetting. Despite these increases, the report found that only 51% of hotels share information about their green practices on their websites.

The report, which is conducted by Singapore-based consultancy Greenview and the Green Lodging Report, is based on data from 2,093 hotels in 46 countries, who answered 110 survey questions in the following categories: Air Quality, Back of House, Climate Action and Certification, Communications, Community Involvement, Energy Management, Health and Wellness, Staff Involvement, Waste Management, and Water Conservation.

Amongst its other key findings this year: 27% of hotels said they have installed electric vehicle charging stations, while 52% said they practice recycling in all common areas. 

The report can be downloaded for free here.

UNWTO Code of Ethics for Tourism becomes an International Convention

UNWTOThe UNWTO has transformed the Code of Ethics for Tourism into an international convention. The Convention, which is the UNWTO’s first, covers the responsibilities of all stakeholders in the development of sustainable tourism, providing a framework that recommends an ethical and sustainable way of operating, including the right to tourism, the freedom of movement for tourists and the rights of employees and professionals. 

“In an interconnected world where the business volume of tourism equals or even surpasses that of oil exports, ‎food products or automobiles, it is important to set out a legal framework to ensure that growth is dealt with responsibly and that it can be sustained over time. Tourism is a power that must be harnessed for the benefit of all,” said the Chairman of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics (WCTE), Pascal Lamy.

According to the UNWTO, the conversion of the Code, which was first adopted in 1999, into a proper Convention represents a significant step towards ensuring that tourism development is done with full respect for sustainable development, social issues, local community development, improves understanding between cultures and addresses labour issues.

“This is an historical moment for UNWTO, said the Secretary-General”, Taleb Rifai. “The approval of the Convention is a strong legacy of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development that we celebrate this year. It is also a strong sign that countries are committed to make tourism a force for a better future for all. It reinforces UNWTO institutional outreach in the UN system,” he added.

South Pacific Tourism Organisation partners with UNDP to boost sustainable tourism

ST PacificA new partnership has been formed between the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to promote sustainable tourism in the region. The two agencies have committed to take responsible approaches through energy, water and waste reduction and to contribute to global efforts to develop such practices – in accordance with the theme of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. 

The agreement will assist SPTO to strengthen stakeholder engagement in sustainable tourism; build the capacity and establishment of the Pacific Sustainable Tourism Network’ support stakeholder participation in the Sustainable Tourism Enterprise Program currently being implemented in Samoa and Fiji; and support the development and promotion of community ecotourism projects across the region.

“Tourism is a sector that is dependent on the environment and its natural resources,” said SPTO Chief Executive Officer, Christopher Cocker.  “It is also an energy and water intensive sector. With technical and funding support from UNDP, we plan to increase our reach and create more accommodations in Samoa and Fiji, and work alongside selected communities to create stronger links between the sustainable tourism industry and local communities.”

Dutch tourism tax to be increased to address overcrowding

Dutch taxAmsterdam has announced plans to raise taxes on tourists by as much as €10 ($12) per night in a bid to address overcrowding and its impact on locals’ quality of life. The tax will be added to accommodation bills, both deterring low spending tourists and provided funds for the city, which received 17 million tourists in 2016, up from 12 million five years earlier. Amsterdam’s resident population is 850,000.

Furthermore, the Dutch capital’s administration has announced a ban on any new shops opening in the 40 streets surrounding the city centre if they are focussed primarily on tourists. According to a report in the Guardian, this includes ticket vendors, bike rental companies, cheese shops and storefronts selling fast food food such as waffles, ice cream, and doughnuts. There are currently 280 tourist-focussed shops in the city centre.

Other destinations in Europe have also been exploring a range of similar measures. In August, Germany introduced a €2 per night tax on tourists staying in Frankfurt.  Barcelona is not issuing new licences for hotels and has banned any more change-of-use permits for holiday lets. And Santorini has has put a cap on cruise visitors at 8,000 per day.

Accessible tourism focus: Thailand opens 7 new accessible routes

Accessibility iconsThailand’s tourism authority has launched a range of accessible tourism routes in popular areas of the country. The idea for the routes was first announced last year on World Tourism Day, when Bangkok was the host and the theme was ‘Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility’.  At the 2016 event, the Thai government stated it would “transform Thailand into the hub of universal design in ASEAN”, supporting the country’s efforts to promote itself as an ‘accessible tourism’ country.

The country is supporting the launch of the routes with a dedicated Tourism For All website and also publishing a 116-page Thai-language guidebook. The pilot routes are Stylish Capital: Bangkok, Exotic Lanna: Chiang Mai, Nature & Art: Ratchaburi, Wonderful Town: Pattaya, Remaining Memories: Kanchanaburi, Andaman Pearl: Phuket, Northeast Spicy Isan: Khon Kaen, Precious Treasure: Ayutthaya, and Fertile Land: Nakhon Ratchasima.



Written and edited by Jeremy Smith

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