Tourism for Tomorrow Newsletter April 2018

2018 Tourism for Tomorrow Winners announced

Winners announced

The five winners of WTTC’s annual awards for the best in sustainable tourism have been announced at the organisation’s 2018 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. China’s Airport Authority Hong Kong won the Environment Award for its collaborative and airport-wide approach to engaging its many suppliers and partners in operating more sustainably. India’s Global Himalayan Expedition won the Community award for its project to work with trekkers to bring solar microgrids to remote mountain villages. The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, from British Columbia in Canada won the Destination award for the impacts of its 10-year regional tourism strategy. Costa Rica’s Cayuga Collection of Sustainable Luxury Hotels and Lodges won the People’s award for the unique sustainability commitments shown by the hotel management company. And the UK’s Virgin Atlantic won the Innovation award for its partnership with the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) to create the world’s first framework designed to address the many sustainability challenges of sustainable inflight catering.

Gloria Guevara Manzo, President & CEO, WTTC
, commented: “This year the Tourism for Tomorrow Award finalists prove just how diverse and all-encompassing our sector’s commitment to sustainable growth is. The award categories are designed to demonstrate that every player in the Travel & Tourism industry has a role to play in driving the sector to a more responsible future — whether providing training to people from disadvantaged backgrounds, protecting vital wetland areas via ecotourism or operating the world’s greenest airport. I congratulate them all on their achievements and leadership. 
This year’s award winners demonstrate not only that tourism can be sustainable, but that it provides tangible benefits to destinations, local communities and travellers. We hope that our award winners will motivate the Travel & Tourism sector to be part of a more sustainable world.”

Fiona Jeffery, OBE, Chair, WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, stated: “The role of the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards is to showcase some of the most outstanding examples of sustainable tourism practise in the world and inspire and motivate our industry to be the change we want to see and experience. The Tourism for Tomorrow 2018 finalists and winners each demonstrate vision, leadership, and a long-term commitment to ensuring our industry focuses on creating better places for people to live in and better places for people visit. This year however we have seen more cross sector collaboration and an acknowledgement that steps can and should be taken to assess tourism impacts more effectively which is an encouraging development.”

Jeff Rutledge, CEO, AIG Travel, the headline sponsors of the Awards, said: “From operating the world’s greenest airport to establishing Africa’s first marine park, this year’s Tourism for Tomorrow finalists are a diverse group of change makers from all over the globe. The 2018 winners demonstrate that regardless of size or purpose, all businesses in the Travel & Tourism sector can make sustainability a priority and become part of our collective journey towards a greener future.”

For more information on the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards and all the winners, please visit

WTTC’s Summit in Buenos Aires


The theme of this year’s summit, which took place from April 16-18 in Buenos Aires, is Our People, Our World, Our Future. With a wide range of topics addressed across the two days, including resilience, sustainable growth and security, there were also certain session during the summit which focus specifically on sustainable and responsible tourism. 

During the session ‘Tourism as a partner for climate action’ Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and Chris Nassetta, CEO, Hilton & Chairman, WTTC explored the linkages between tourism and climate change, and a new WTTC initiative on Climate Change has been announced. Later, a session titled ‘Travel & Tourism declaration on illegal trade in wildlife’ saw Gerald Lawless, Immediate past Chairman, WTTC, Gary Chapman, President, Emirates, and John E Scanlon, Special Envoy, African Parks share the stage, and there was the presentation of a new WTTC initiative to support global action to combat illegal trade in wildlife. 

Sustainable cities focus: Buenos Aires

Global SUmmit 2018, Buenos Aires

This month, the Argentina capital place host to WTTC’s annual summit. Home to around 2.8 million people, and almost 14 million people in its wider surrounds, Buenos Aires is the largest urban region in South America. It is also responsible for over half of Argentina's tourism receipts, according to last year’s WTTC report, Latin America City Travel & Tourism Impact.

According to the report, which is part of a global study of 65 cities, the city’s Travel & Tourism sector accounts for 5.1% of its overall economy and totals US$11.1bn, a higher contribution to GDP than in all the other Latin American cities studied.

In recent years the city has focussed increasingly on its long term sustainability, improving liveability for both residents and visitors. In 2014 the Buenos Aires Green Plan committed to develop 78 new plazas and expand 30 existing ones, while also building 12 large parks and many more green terraces will also be built. Green terraces and roofs are being installed, street lights updated to LED, green spaces recovered, trees and plants protected, and storm water capture systems installed. 

In 2011, the city launched a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project that combines bus lanes with elevated, well-lit, GPS-equipped bus stops, connecting several major transport arteries and benefitting up to one million commuters every day. Several lanes of the city’s main artery road - 9 de Julio Avenue –are now reserved exclusively for bus services. Thanks to these measures travel times have been cut in half for 200,000 daily commuters, with an equivalent CO2 reduction of 5,612 tonnes per year.

There are now 140 km of cycle lanes thanks to the EcoBici programme, while the City Bike project has set up 160 stations providing 3,000 bikes for use free of charge 24hrs a day. Meanwhile in the city centre, 63 blocks have been refurbished to reduce traffic loads or pedestrianized, underground waste disposal and recycling bins have been installed, and vehicle speeds limited to 10km/h. Free WiFi is now available in tourist and commuter hotspots and on public transport, along with free cell phone and tablet charging stations, and even free bicycle pumps.

Finally, when looking for a hotel, the city also runs its own green certification scheme for accommodation, known as Ecosello.

Tourism and Development Focus Interview with Iaia Pedemonte, Founder, Gender Responsible Tourism

Interview April 2018

Gender Responsible Tourism (GRT) is an association and a website founded by Italian journalist and responsible tourism practitioner Iaia Pedemonte to promote women working in tourism. Having interviewed hundreds of women around the globe, the website features a map of “made by women” destinations. And following interviews with hundreds of experts Iaia has created a Network and manual of good practices, suggestions, stories useful to entrepreneurs; as well as The Six Pillars, a set of criteria and targeted actions to remove barriers to full empowerment for women in tourism. 
WTTC: What do you see as the main challenges affecting tourism from a gender perspective? 

Iaia: Globally, the challenges that need to be addressed are similar to those in other jobs, related to decent work, human resources, management, access and control over resources, land distribution or credit facility policies, lower wages,  risks of being victims of discrimination, sexual harassment and stereotypes. Talking to women at the grassroots level, I have found out that, all over the globe, the issues are same:  they have little chance of networking, of accessing credit facilities, they find difficult to integrate family and work times, they want a legal framework for business development policies and strategies integrating gender concerns, from the national to the local level. 
These issues then translate in different regions and cultures into fighting for integration in unions, seeking physical protection or representation, looking for a higher education in order to develop leadership capacity, and feeling overwhelmed by problems caused by distances, security or domestic tasks.
All these challenges need to be addressed, and are very well explained in publications such as the ILO Global Wage Report, in Perspectives on women and work in hotels, catering and tourism, or in Equations’ last  research, Reflections from India, that I just published on GRT. 
WTTC: How do we meet these challenges?
Iaia: We need to ensure the adoption of gender guidelines and criteria in every enterprise and organization. Most of all we need to build the preconditions and policies to remove barriers to full empowerment for women in tourism, as recommended by experts in, for example, Tourism for Development, Women and tourism, designing for inclusion.
One idea I have is that we should convince legislators, stakeholders and project makers that tourism “made by women” can be a leading high-growth market, and that it can be an indicator of their country’s economic development, even helping to reach the SDGs.
Women are about 60% of the global tourism workforce - closing the gender gap could see GDP grow 26%. I roughly estimate therefore that closing the gender gap in tourism could add around two trillion dollars to global tourism’s contribution to GDP. My question - to those able to conduct such research in more detail is: how could we get a precise calculation of this potential impact? And couldn’t we then use these numbers to spread the word about the important role played by women and the importance of empowering women in tourism?
Furthermore,  my research has shown me that tourism products created by women meet the growing market demand for sustainability. Because if a woman manages an enterprise or a project, her way of doing so is to use community participation, a bottom up approach, to focus on sustainability, and to measure using tools that are qualitative and based on equitable relations.
WTTC: Have you any examples you can share of excellent initiatives supporting gender equality and tourism?

Iaia: I could mention the Slow Venice tours, with women guides sailing to gardens far from the crowded island,  or the Shangri-La hotel in the Maldives with twice the average women working, or the Maasai women in Tanzania organized by the NGO Oikos… and many more featured on the GRT’s Map.

In particular, however, I want to share some examples of how this type of responsible tourism can be a tool for Crisis Resolution. I believe we can build a model of small tourism enterprises after a crisis, to solve problems after a war, a natural disaster, or a genocide. I have collected examples of great initiatives, and I have seen many times that women are the first ones to build bridges for peace, and often with the most unexpected tools. 

There’s Roni and Suzan, “partners from the front line”: one in Israel, the other in Palestine, who organize “Fair trade fair peace”, the first product line combining their two women artisans cooperatives through walls. Or Manisha Pande, the organizer of Village Ways, the community sustainable tour operator in India and Nepal, where women guides and tourists have worked together to rebuild schools after the earthquake. Or in Rwanda, where Marie Aimee Mugemi and 40 women of the Umutima Association (left poor and alone after the genocide 20 years ago) are organizing the “Live Like a Local” tour program in Kigali. Or the Lebanese women who operate a successful trekking program along the Lebanon Mountain Trail. Despite considerable barriers, all these women embody cooperation and resistance, and they are great examples of resilience, of turning away from poverty to entrepreneurship in the midst of ruin and desolation.



Mastercard - Partnering for Inclusive Growth

Master Card

An analysis of international tourist spending conducted by Harvard’s Center for International Development in collaboration with the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth recently compared two countries, Colombia and the Netherlands.  In Colombia, the top five destinations were found to account for 80 percent of total tourist spending, whereas tourist spending was seen to be much more widely dispersed in the Netherlands, with even the smallest municipality seeing a sizable number of foreign visitors. As a result, local small businesses in Colombia are less able to share the economic benefits of international tourist spending than their counterparts in the Netherlands.

According to Mastercard, enabling greater acceptance of electronic payments in every community would be one way to increase the opportunity for broader and inclusive growth. Furthermore, as reported in the previous newsletter, the company advises that globally standard contactless and mobile technologies can make access to public transport easier for travellers – bringing new destinations within reach and also decreasing their carbon footprint when at the destination. Finally, says Mastercard, clear insights into consumer spending trends can inform crowd management and urban planning, reducing congestion and improving daily life for tourists and residents alike.

BEST EN think tank to focus on marketing sustainable tourism


The Institute of Tourism, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences, will be the host of the BEST EN Think Tank XVIII, which takes place from June 19-22, 2018. BEST EN (which stands for Building Excellence for Sustainable Tourism – an Education Network), has announced that the theme of the conference is “Marketing of sustainable tourism products”.

Registration is now open here, as well as information on the programme and accommodation.

Launch of the 2018 Exploring a World of Sustainable Destinations challenge

Village Monde

Village Monde and its partners have launched the 2018 Exploring a World of Sustainable Destinations campaign, which aims to enable young people from Quebec and France to experience sustainable tourism first hand.

Village Monde is a Quebecois organization for social innovation founded by entrepreneur Charles Mony, a successful entrepreneur. Through its activities and the online platform, Village Monde connects remote rural communities with travellers to support the creation and enhancement of responsible and sustainable tourism initiatives.

In partnership with Air Canada, Karavaniers and LOJIQ, Village Monde’s annual challenge offers 10 young travellers the opportunity to travel a country for a month to discover such sustainable and volunteer tourism initiatives in remote communities and to share them on social media. Announces Startups and innovation projects it will support in 2018. has announced the 10 sustainable tourism startups that will be joining the 2018 Booking Booster Programme in Amsterdam in May 2018. The three-week accelerator program consists of a series of lectures, workshops and coaching, leading to a final pitch session for the chance of a grant of up to €500k from

With hundreds of applicants from all over the world, the 10 startups joining the 2018 programme hail from six different countries and operate collectively across six continents. They are: Community Homestay Network (Nepal), Global Himalayan Expedition (India), HiveSters (Thailand), Hotel Con Corazón (Netherlands: Operating in Nicaragua), Keteka (United States: Operating in Central and South America, Antarctica), KITRO (Switzerland), Reflow (Netherlands), Sakha Consulting Wings: Women on Wheels (India), Tastemakers (United States: Operating in Africa), and Wheel the World (United States)

In addition, the Booking Cares Fund has announced that it has awarded grants to five innovative sustainable tourism projects. They are: the Jordan Trail, a 650km hiking trail giving travellers access to undiscovered areas of Jordan while connecting local communities in the villages to tourism-related opportunities. Blue Habits, a ground-breaking research project that aims to understand the effects of nature-based tourism on behavioural change. Rare & Roll, a plan to develop a database and WeChat service portal to provide accessible tourism information, services and cultural experience opportunities for both Chinese travellers with a disability (85 million people) and 220 million people over 60. The Million Gallon Challenge, through which Hosteling International will pilot the use of 500 smart shower heads with built-in LEDs that change colour based on the length of time the shower is in use. And Khwela Tourism Stars, a cutting-edge hospitality academy in South Africa for disadvantaged women. 

Thomas Cook launches new sustainability strategy

Thomas Cook

Last month, Thomas Cook launched its new three year sustainability strategy at ITB in Berlin, which it says aims to ‘make a difference with every holiday’ to limit environmental impacts and maximise the social and economic benefits travel can bring. At the same time the company published its 2017 Sustainability Report, which reports that its animal welfare policy has resulted in two-thirds of the animal attractions audited against independent standards being removed from sale for breaching guidelines, while its charitable activities have helped 18,000 people and its airline was named among the top 10 most fuel efficient airlines in the world in the 2017 Atmosfair index.

“I am determined that Thomas Cook be a positive force to help build a more sustainable tourism, working in partnership with our destinations, our suppliers, our customers, and the wider industry,” commented Peter Fankhauser, Group CEO. “Our new strategy re-establishes Thomas Cook ‘s voice in sustainability and clearly demonstrates our intent. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in the last year, but we have big ambitions and I’m clear that we need to push much further ahead.”

UNWTO/Chimelong Initiative on Wildlife and Tourism launches Media Award 


The UNWTO has launched a new award to engage the media and to recognize the work of journalists in the coverage of wildlife and sustainable tourism. Launched on Wildlife Day on 3 March, the UNWTO/Chimelong Initiative aims to promote the value of tourism for wildlife conservation and includes also training to tourism administrations and to media on the theme.

The Initiative is being implemented between 2017 and 2019 and aims at engaging key stakeholders in fostering sustainable tourism as a means to protect wildlife. “The engagement of media is as important as that of governments and private sector to address the role of tourism as a driver to foster wildlife conservation,” said UNWTO Secretary General, Zurab Pololikashvili. “Much of our activities in this area are focused in Africa and Asia. The African continent for example is a unique case with regard to wildlife and tourism. Supporting the role of tourism in wildlife conservation is critical for socio-economic development and the achievement of the SDGs and the Agenda 2030 in Africa.” 

The Media Award welcomes articles, reports and interviews addressing the topic of wildlife and sustainable tourism published between January 2017 and June 2018 in any of the five UNWTO official languages (English, French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic). The deadline for submissions is 15th July 2018. The awardee will be designated at the Awards Ceremony that will take place in September 2018.    

Written and edited by Jeremy Smith

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