Tourism for Tomorrow Newsletter January 2018

2018 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards finalists announced

Finalists announced

The 15 finalists for the 2018 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards have been announced, with three finalists in each of five categories. The finalists are:

Community Award Finalists, whose organisations are committed to sustainable tourism leadership in local community development, empowerment and cultural heritage

  • &Beyond (South Africa)
  • Global Himalayan Expedition (India)
  • Sustainable Development Institute Mamirauá (Brazil)

Destination Award Finalists, who show commitment to supporting and delivering sustainable tourism best practices in their destinations:

  • Corporación Parque Arví (Colombia)
  • Riverwind Foundation (USA)
  • Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (Canada)

Environment Award Finalists, whose organisations and companies achieved environmental best practice through biodiversity conservation, protection of natural habitats, addressing climate change, and green operations:

  • Airport Authority Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
  • Chumbe Island Coral Park – CHICOP (Tanzania)
  • Meliá Hotels International (Spain)

Innovation Award Finalists, who provided innovative solutions to overcoming the challenges faced by Travel & Tourism in implementing sustainability in practice:

  • Transportation Options (Canada)
  • Virgin Atlantic (United Kingdom)
  • Yayasan Karang Lestari Teluk Pemuteran (Pemuteran Bay Coral Protection Foundation) (Indonesia)

People Award Finalists, who are dedicated to the development of capacity building, training and education to build a skilled tourism workforce for the future:

  • Cayuga Collection of Sustainable Luxury Hotels and Lodges (Costa Rica)
  • Heritage Watch (Australia)
  • TREE Alliance (Cambodia)

All finalists will now receive a site visit from one of WTTC’s Tourism for Tomorrow Judges, before the final decision is announced at the annual WTTC Summit on 18-19 April in Buenos Aires, Argentina. To read more about the projects for which each of the finalists was chosen, click here.

Who are the Finalists for the Tourism for Tomorrow Environment Award?

Airport Authority Hong Kong

HK AirportAfter publicly committing in 2012 to operate the world’s greenest airport at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) has developed a unique collaborative and airport-wide approach to achieving its aims. Having first created a range of programmes to address issues such as carbon reduction and food waste, AAHK then invited its many third party suppliers and business partners to voluntarily participate in them. The take up and results have been impressive - by the end of 2015, HKIA had achieved a 25.6% reduction in the overall carbon intensity of its operations, while also saving enough food from going to waste to provide 100,000 meals for the underprivileged.

Chumbe Island Coral Park

ChumbeDespite being based on a tiny, formerly uninhabited small coral island that is just over a km long and 300m across at its widest point, Chumbe Island Coral Park has, over more than two decades, achieved results that stretch far beyond its shores. This is the site of the first financially self-sustaining marine protected area (MPA) in the world, entirely funded by the seven bungalow ecolodge based on the island. Yet, as well as sustaining the island, the reef and their guests, many more have benefitted from Chumbe’s efforts. Since 1995, 9,400 local people, ranging from school children and teachers, to community members and government officials, have taken part in educational excursions to Chumbe, which has also shared its knowledge of environmentally friendly development through the creation of a sustainable seafood guide and an Environmental Guidebook for Zanzibar.

Melia Hotels

MeliaParadisus Playa del Carmen is a hotel run by Melia Hotels in Mexico that is committed to restoring its local habitat and protecting the species with whom it shares the ecosystem. The hotel is a good example of how Melia integrated its CSR model into the business as part of their committment to define and impulse the glocal CSR strategy to be developed in their portfolio. As well as protecting four hectares of mangrove forest, three hectares of low forest and the coastal dunes, the hotel is also restoring corals on its neighbouring Mesoamerican Reef. On site, it operates a Carbon Neutral Convention Centre enabling it to host zero emission events, while also running nature club for young guests, encouraging the use of bicycles among its staff and improving its local community’s access to wellbeing facilities through donating a bike path and a sports park. 

Who are the Finalists for the Tourism for Tomorrow Destination Award? 

Corporación Parque Arví

ArviCreated to offer residents a healthy escape from the concrete and smog of Colombia’s second largest city, Medellin, Parque Arvi is the largest such natural space of its kind in the country, with 38 thousand trees planted since 2012, and 54 miles of walkable trails marked out. Since opening in 2010, some 4,500,000 people have visited, the vast majority of them locals, and 80% of those who have come are from the poorest socioeconomic sectors. A cable car connects the city with the park, and as well as opportunities for walking and simply enjoying nature, there are cycle trails, places for adventure sports and an outdoor food market promoting healthy local produce. It has made such a difference to the people of Medellin’s lives - before it opened there was only four metres of green space per resident, yet now there is 12. 

Riverwind Foundation

RiverwindWhen the Global Sustainable Tourism Council assessed Jackson Hole’s potential to be an Early Adopter of Sustainable Destination Criteria in 2012, the organisation felt that while the area was home to plenty of sustainable activities, it lacked overall coordination. In response, The Riverwind Foundation created the Jackson Hole & Yellowstone Sustainable Destination Program, which in the ensuing years has created a strategic Council of 57 public and private sector stakeholders and a tactical Steering Committee of 12 key local sustainability leaders. It has trained and assisted over 260 businesses in sustainability planning and practices, and created or enhanced 49 local “green collar” jobs. It has also ensured that its efforts are appreciated and supported by the many tourists who visit the region each year, distributing the newly created Jackson Hole Sustainability Code of Conduct to over 60,000 travelers.

Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association 

ThompsonStretching across an area roughly the size of Ireland, the Thompson Okanagan regional area of British Columbia is home to 90 villages and hamlets, and 33 indigenous communities. It also receives around 3.5 million tourists each year. In 2012 the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) launched a 10-year regional tourism strategy, endorsed by all its many communities - and put sustainability across all measures at its heart. Projects range from a campaign to keep invasive Zebra mussels from its waterways, an urban wildlife corridor study, the installation of over 1000 electric car charging stations, and the creation of free online webinars to help the region’s 4,500 tourism stakeholders operate more sustainably. At the end of 2017, the region was officially certified as the first location in the Americas to have successfully achieved the Sustainable Tourism Destination accreditation from Biosphere International and
the Responsible Tourism Institute, measured across all 17 of the SDGs. 

Global Sustainable Tourism Dashboard upgrades to improve sustainable tourism decision making


The Global Sustainable Tourism Dashboard, a joint project between researchers at Griffith University and the University of Surrey, has been redesigned to better inform researchers and travellers with interactive insights about destinations around the world. Users are now able to explore visual data on topics including Poverty Alleviation, Dispersion of Travel, Carbon Emissions, Sustainable Production, Protected Areas, Gender Equity and Security. “At a time of 'measure to manage' tourism stakeholders are really keen to use data that can actually show whether we are making progress on key sustainable tourism dimension,” Griffith University’s Susanne Becken told WTTC. “The Dashboard delivers exactly that, and with the new format we are providing a much finer level of detail of the data, for example national-level carbon emissions for aviation.”

The revamped dashboard also incorporates a set of indicators that provide valuable information on progress against the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Information also aligns with the UN’s 10-Year Framework of Programmes (10YFP) on Sustainable Consumption and Production. The new changes help the Dashboard provide authoritative information and user-friendly access to the most comprehensive data on tourism, allowing commercial and academic decision-makers the means to further improve global tourism practices. 

Launched originally in January 2017,  the Dashboard builds on data provided through the World Travel and Tourism Council, Amadeus and EarthCheck, among other organisations, and incorporates knowledge from established initiatives such as the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and the International Tourism Partnership.

Tourism and Sustainable Development: Interview with is now the world’s largest platform for social impact travel experiences. It connects travellers with social and environmental organisations around the world, strengthening their work, improving public knowledge of and engagement with society's needs and stimulating economic development. We speak with its co-founder Michal Alter. 

WTTC: How do you choose the programmes you work with to ensure they are creating meaningful positive impact, yet also offering rewarding experiences for guests?

Michal: We ensure that the social good organizations that partner with offer rich, transformative experiences through our rigorous vetting process, which is enforced through strict online research and our feet-on-the-ground approach. We only work with organizations that have a strong track record of positive impact and operate with the involvement, consent, and engagement of the local community, ensuring revenue benefits the community as a whole.
For each organisation, one of our hundreds of Ambassadors worldwide will perform a pilot visit, experiencing the activity exactly as it would be for a customer.  Afterward, they submit a detailed quality report in which they provide their unbiased feedback by answering a set of informative questions as well as submitting images and videos. The Ambassadors are often travel bloggers who will share their experience on their own channels. And because we do not have control over their content, we can be sure that it is an honest appraisal of the visit and their personal experience.

WTTC: Looking at the 17 SDGs, are there particular goals that you consider tourism is best able to support?

Michal: Sustainable tourism can impact almost all the SDGs.’s model in particular enhances the goals of each of our partner orgs -- which range from ending poverty (SDG 1), to empowering women (SDG 5), to protecting ocean life (SDG 14), and more. For instance, when travelers book an experience with our partner Ecofiltro in Guatemala, tour revenue will contribute to the acquisition of water filters for public schools in rural Guatemala, supporting SDG 4 and 6 (education and clean water)

Overall, Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11) is what aims to contribute to. Our goal is to create sustainable cities and communities through travel experiences hosted by local, vetted social good organizations that are already doing great developmental work in their community. makes an impact on local organizations by helping them generate new earned income. For example in Peru, we helped a local community-based organization build a tour that celebrates their unique local heritage while also helping preserve it. Since selling their product on our platform, they have doubled their annual income.  Additionally, activities increase local demand for guides, food, accommodation, and other hospitality needs, triggering local economic development even further.’s impact starts by catering to the social good organizations who benefit their communities. By providing them with an online presence to share their story, a platform to reach new visitors, and the manpower for the bookings process, we give them the opportunity to generate funds outside of grants and donations, while focusing on what they do best: helping their communities.

WTTC: How would hotels and other large travel businesses collaborate with you so as to offer the experiences to their guests?

Michal: We love working with industry partners who share our values and vision for making the world a better place through travel. For example, we partner with Hilton to provide experiences to its leisure and business guests. Hilton properties get to support vetted projects in their local communities and guests augment their itineraries with a half-day immersive, impactful experience they can not find anywhere else. We welcome travel leaders who are passionate about responsible and sustainable tourism to partner with us and make a bigger impact on their community.

New Instagram warning educates users about potential cruelty from wild animal selfies


Instagram has added a content advisory screen to its platform to warn users about animal cruelty. Whenever a user now searches for a hashtag that is associated with behaviour that could be harmful to animals or the environment, for example #KoalaSelfie or #SlothSelfie, they will be presented with a pop up screen advising that “Animal abuse and the sale of endangered animals or their parts are not allowed on Instagram” and providing links to information provided by experts on animal welfare and conservation such as World Wildlife Fund, TRAFFIC and World Animal Protection. “We congratulate Instagram on taking this important step towards educating its users about wild animals that are suffering for selfies,” Steve McIvor, CEO at World Animal Protection, said. “The reality is these wild animals are suffering terribly, both in front of and behind the camera.”

European countries lead new rankings in sustainable tourism


A new report from The Economist Intelligence Unit has highlighted the performance of ten countries in promoting sustainable tourism practices. France and Germany were the best performing countries and they are also the only two seen to have developed a set of defined policies, targets and monitoring on the national level. The UK came third. 

According to the report, strong policies supporting sustainability in the tourism industry helped European countries take the top three spots in its inaugural Sustainable Tourism Index, which compared ten countries across the world. From first to 10th, the countries were France, Germany, UK, US, Japan, India, Brazil, China, Indonesia and Egypt. 

The findings were released in a free white paper, The Sustainable Tourism Index: enhancing the global travel environment, which also features interviews with 11 global experts in  sustainable tourism including Randy Durband, chief executive officer of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, Andrea Nicholas, managing director of Green Tourism, Taleb Rifai, former secretary-general, UNWTO, and Megan Epler Wood, director, International Sustainable Tourism Initiative, Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment. The index measures performance across five categories: political and regulatory environment, environmental sustainability, socio-economic sustainability, economic sustainability, and travel and tourism industry. “While the strong performance of developed nations is encouraging, as developing countries grow in prominence as tourism destinations, they will take on a greater role in driving sustainability in this field, worldwide,” commented Michael Gold, the editor in charge of research programme.

Palau creates world first conservation pledge, stamped in visitors’ passports


The Republic of Palau has launched a new immigration policy to protect its environment and culture. The Palau Pledge demands that all inbound visitors make a promise to the children of Palau that they will preserve their island home. The pledge is stamped into all visitor passports before they can enter the country. 

A range of supporting materials have been produced along with the immigration stamp and translated into five languages representing the key inbound visitor markets of Japan, USA, Korea, China and Taiwan. Tourists will also watch an in-flight video featuring the children of Palau explaining the massive impact that visitors can have on the island’s fragile ecosystem. In addition, supporting signage and information packs have being placed around Palau’s airport and throughout the country. Meanwhile, the principles are being integrated into Palauan children’s education, while the local community and businesses, including tour operators, are also being encouraged to take the Pledge.

With a population of less than 20,000 people, Palau nonetheless hosts over 160,000 visitors to its shores each year.  It is one of only six countries in the world to have a UNESCO designation that protects both its unique environment and culture. Policy has also been put in place by the Palauan Government enabling action to be taken against those who break the conditions of the Pledge, facing fines of up to $1 million USD.

Florence starts collecting tourist tax via Airbnb


As of January 1st 2018, Airbnb now automatically collects and remit tourist tax whenever a reservation is made to stay in the Italian city of Florence. The agreement ensures that the accommodation price shown on the platform is inclusive of the tourist tax and is directly remitted to the city. The move means Florence joins other Italian cities such as Genoa and Bologna in collecting tourist tax via the Airbnb platform. Worldwide, 340 administrations now collect tourist taxes through Airbnb.

Written and edited by Jeremy Smith

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