Tourism for Tomorrow Newsletter July 2018

Interview with Tourism for Tomorrow 2018 People Award Winner Hans Pfister, Cayuga Collection

Hans Pfister

Tourism for Tomorrow People winner, Hans Pfister, co-founder of Cayuga Collection, tells us why the people behind the scenes are the lynchpins of sustainable travel. 
What was the motivation behind setting up Cayuga Collection?
For me, the best experiences conjure a sense of place and have a low impact on nature. I used to travel around Guatemala and be shocked to find salmon on every single menu, even though it had to be imported hundreds of miles. Hotels often imitate someone else’s version of luxury and that can get dull. Those hotels that do want to do things sustainably can get trapped by rigid certifications, with no real scope for innovation. By setting up Cayuga Collection, a hotel management company with nine properties, my business partner and I could prove that you can put nature and people first while delivering a luxury experience.  
What are you most proud of during Cayuga Collection’s 19 years?
Employing over 90% of staff locally is something not many hotel groups can say. It’s easy to hire local gardeners and maintenance staff, but when you get to the management level, it’s more challenging. It pays off though; seeing the growth of Cayuga’s employees is very rewarding. Thirteen years ago, Rodbin Bonilla came to the construction site of Arenas del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort looking for work after a troubled time in his native Naranjo. Due to his hard work, when the hotel opened, he was asked to stay on and after a chain of promotions, English lessons provided by the hotel and dedication, he became Operations Manager. These are the most loyal staff you’ll ever find, and they’re good managers too — they understand where other employees are coming from. 

Rather than offer opportunities for just four months of the year, we’ve also worked hard to provide jobs year-round, which is the only way to offer a truly sustainable form of employment for local communities. To do this, we’ve had to be innovative about selling the low-season, and it’s worked. 
On winning the People Award, you gave an inspiring acceptance speech — what is your standout message to the broader travel industry?
Sitting in the World Travel and Tourism Council Summit I was delighted to hear sustainable travel crop up frequently, but so much of the focus was on energy and water rather than people. Chain hotels are now offering customers money off their bill to not have housekeeping — a good money saver for the guest, but this can have a crippling impact on jobs. The whole industry needs to put people and their well-being first; it’s impossible to have a positive impact otherwise. 
What is your advice to others looking to lead the way in responsible travel?
Don’t give up — follow your vision and trust it; they’ll be highs and lows, but you must stick with it. Be honest about short-comings and learn from them. Share achievements and challenges with others and don’t be afraid to go your own way and innovate. By asking for help and challenging the norm, you can create a real change.

Written by Holly Tuppen

Sustainable cities focus: Cape Town

Cape Town

According to WTTC’s latest city report for Cape Town, in 2016, Travel & Tourism generated 7.5% of the city’s GDP and around one in nine people were employed in the sector, compared with 1 in 22 in South Africa as a whole. This year sees the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, yet the city has seen a dip in tourism arrivals compared to 2017, due in large part to ongoing concerns about the extreme water shortages that have been afflicting the region.

Despite these current issues, Cape Town has always been seen as a leading destination in the development of responsible tourism, ever since it made it a founding principle of its first Tourism Development Framework. It was also here that the eponymous Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism was signed, at the first International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations held in 2002. It was this declaration that contained the lines that have become the central mantra of responsible tourism, namely that it “creates better places for people to live in, and better places to visit.” 

In 2009, Cape Town created a city-wide Responsible Tourism Action Team made up of key tourism organisations and partners so as to develop its Responsible Tourism Policy and Action Plan. That same year, it won the Best Destination Category Award in the 2009 Responsible Tourism Awards held at World Travel Market in London. It’s not the only global recognition the city has received for its responsible tourism, either. In 2016 the V&A Waterfront, which is the heart of its tourist district and receives over 25 million visitors each year, was a finalist in WTTC’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards in the Destination category.

The city also came top in the 2011 African Green City Index, with 3,571 parks and other protected areas covering a total of  54,000 hectares or 22% of the city’s land area. And the Cape Town Green Map now lists over 500 businesses and organisations. Prominent responsible tourism organisations cover the entire spectrum of tourism, ranging from the carbon neutral airport hotel Hotel Verde to AWOL’s award winning township bike tours, backpackers hostels, guest houses and several other businesses that have been recognised by South Africa’s own (and the world’s only) Fair Trade Tourism scheme

UNWTO launches start up competition 


The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Spanish tourism company Globalia have announced a new competition designed to support tourism startups. The UNWTO Tourism Startup Competition is looking for proposals for emerging and disruptive technologies, as well as startups based on new business models, such as the circular economy. “Innovation and tourism investment are not ends in themselves,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. “They are means to develop better tourism products, to improve the governance of tourism and to make the most of the proven sustainability of tourism, by creating jobs and generating opportunities.”

Organisations looking to enter the competition need to have a proposal that addresses one of its four main themes. These are: The future of travel, The tourism experience, Environmental impact, and Community development. Applications will be evaluated according to five further criteria: uniqueness and viability of the solution, potential impact, business model, scalability, and team profile. 

For more information and to apply, go to: Applications are open from 26 June to 3 September 2018. 

Jamaica launches Global Centre for Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management


The Global Centre for Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management will open in Jamaica this September, says the country’s tourism minister. Edmund Bartlett announced recently that the centre will be based at The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, with a mission to carry out policy-relevant research and analysis on destination preparedness, management and recovery from disruptions or crises that impact tourism and threaten economies and livelihoods around the world.

The Centre also will include a Sustainable Tourism Observatory, which will assist with preparedness, management and recovery from disruptions. Like the European Union Tourism Observatory, the Jamaica Centre's observatory will support policymakers and businesses to develop better strategies to support a more competitive global tourism sector.

"In today's world, tourism has become an important, if not vital, contributor to peace-building, the sharing of cultures, and creating opportunities for mutual understanding," said Bartlett. "To guard Jamaica and our partners throughout the Caribbean from extreme weather events, natural disasters and political turmoil, the Global Centre for Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management will ensure that we can continue to benefit from the economic, social, cultural, and historic value that tourism has to offer."

G Adventures and Friends International announce industry-first Guidelines for Child Welfare 

Child Welfare

The Canadian small-group adventure operator, G Adventures, and its non-profit partner, Planeterra, have joined forces with Friends-International’s ChildSafe Movement to raise awareness of child protection and welfare both with the tourism industry and with travellers. The guidelines, titled ‘Child Welfare and the Travel Industry: Global Good Practice Guidelines,’ were welcomed by UNICEF as an essential, practical resource for all tourism companies.

“Travel and tourism is globally one of the most significant sectors economically, and was highlighted in three of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,” said Beth Verhey, UNICEF’s Senior Advisor, Children’s Rights and Business. “To achieve the sustainability potential of the sector, a concerted effort by industry bodies and individual companies is needed to understand how children are affected – both positively and negatively – by their business operations and value chains.” 

UNICEF was one of a wide range of expert contributors to the creation of the guidelines. Other groups on the expert panel included UNWTO, ECPAT International, The Code, Save the Children, and the Global Alliance for Children. According to Sebastien Marot,  Founder and Executive Director of Friends-International, because tourism has developed to become ever more experiential, with more and more tourists engaging in community-based activities, there is a growing awareness of the need for, and the importance of, a framework to protect children.

“These guidelines provide that framework,” said Marot, “and it’s my hope they will become the benchmark for ensuring effective child protection in the tourism industry, with travel companies, agents, travellers and tour guides all contributing to creating safe environments for children.”

The G Adventures Child Welfare Guidelines can be downloaded here.

ITP unites hotel sector to tackle forced labour

Hotel front desk

The world's leading hotel groups have come together to support the International Tourism Partnership's recently launched Principles on Forced Labour. Announced at The Global Forum for Responsible Recruitment and Employment in June, the three principles are: Every worker should have freedom of movement; No worker should pay for a job; No worker should be indebted or coerced to work. They are based on work done by the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) and align with their Priority Industry Principles.

Launching the Principles, Madhu Rajesh, Director of ITP, said: “Nearly 25 million people worldwide are estimated to be held in forced labour today. Forced labour happens when people are coerced to work through violence or intimidation, or via accumulated debt, retention of identity papers or threats of reporting to immigration authorities. Forced labour is an unacceptable human rights violation that can result from unethical employment and recruitment practices throughout the labour supply chain, including for hotels."

ITP’s member hotel groups includes Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott and Radisson Hotel Group. 

Download an infographic giving more details on the principles here.

Global Sustainable Tourism Council recognises Innovation Norway's Sustainable Destination Standard 


Norway’s Sustainable Destination Standard has achieved the ‘GSTC-Recognized Standard’ status. The standard includes 45 criteria and 108 indicators to be measured, registered and monitored, covering nature, culture, environment, social values, community involvement and economic viability. 

“The great commitment around the branding scheme ‘Sustainable Destination’ shows that Norwegian tourism destinations take sustainable development seriously,” said Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry. “Through cooperation with other sectors of the business community and municipalities, tourism industry can thus be a positive contributor to value creation and jobs locally.”

In all, 10 destination standards and 30 hotels and tour operators standards have achieved GSTC-Recognized status so far.

Bonaire becomes world's first ‘Blue Destination’


The Caribbean island of Bonaire has announced the development of a multifaceted public-private partnership programme to ensure the sustainable use of ocean resources for growth, well-being, jobs and the ocean ecosystem’s health, and has supported this by declaring Bonaire as the world’s first Blue Destination.

As one of its initial Blue initiatives, the island is working to become the first Caribbean island to ban sunscreens containing oxybenzone and oxainoxate. Other commitments will include only selling reef safe sunscreen, placing water fountains around the island in order to reduce plastic bottle waste, and working with restaurants to create dishes branded as 3B: Blue Bonaire Bites. The 3B concept will be represented by Blue cuisine (seafood and agricultural) products that are locally caught or grown.

Throughout the upcoming months, Bonaire will host regular meetings with various stakeholders and organisations; organise town hall meetings; get schools involved; and launch various programmes that support the Blue Island brand. A national social media campaign will also seek to get locals involved in the conservation and marketing efforts of the island around the hashtag #BonaireBlueDestination.

For more information visit:

UNWTO report makes case for tourism as driver of sustainable development 

Tourism driving sustainable development

Launching its new ‘Tourism for Development’ report in June, the UNWTO has demanded greater awareness of sustainability in tourism policies and business practices as well as in tourist behaviour. The two-volume report showcases 23 case studies from around the world of tourism that contribute to sustainable development.

The report portrays tourism as a driver of sustainable development and calls for governments to establish and enforce inclusive and integrated policy frameworks for sustainable tourism development. At the same time, it says businesses need to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability in core business models and value chains, while individuals and civil society should also adopt sustainable practices and behaviour.

“This report offers tangible, wide-ranging evidence of the fact that tourism can make a meaningful and substantial contribution to achieving sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

You can download the report at Tourism for Development Report Volume I and Tourism for Development Report Volume II

AIG Travel promotes safe travel for LGBTQ community


In celebration of Pride Month, AIG Travel, the global travel insurance and assistance services company, has launched a travel safety education initiative to raise awareness among members of the LGBTQ community of potential risks while travelling. As part of the initiative, AIG Travel partnered with LGBTQ advocacy group ManAboutWorld to develop a guide for travel safety, which includes a collection of the most reliable and current online resources.

The guides cover issues ranging from research to understand the cultural, legal and security issues that may affect LGBTQ travellers; attitudes towards public displays of affection; guidance for travelling with children; and advice for transgender travellers.

The downloadable guide and several other resources are available on AIG Travel’s dedicated LGBTQ website,

Considerate Hoteliers wins support from UK Government for development of Energy Management app. 

Considerate Hoteliers

Considerate Hoteliers, which helps hospitality businesses operate responsibly, is one of nine recipients of a grant from The United Kingdom Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The grant will support Considerate Hoteliers in developing an energy management app, specifically for the UK SME hospitality market, which is designed to easily interpret daily energy performance trends that are correlated to room nights and/or food covers. The app will be launched in the first quarter of 2019. 

In total, BEIS has awarded £8.8 million to nine innovation projects to develop software tools that can use smart meter data encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to save energy. UK Government research suggests SMEs within the hospitality, retail and education sectors use the same amount of energy as 43 million homes in the UK, and that consumption could be reduced by one quarter with more efficient practices. 

Impact Travel Alliance releases report on how to bring sustainable tourism mainstream



This month, New York-based nonprofit Impact Travel Alliance releases the report “Making an Impact: Bringing Sustainable Tourism to the Masses.” Based on the ideas presented and developed at the industry 2017 Impact Travel Global Summit, the report was written in partnership with Mandala Research. It both addresses the industry’s distinct challenges and provides a set of achievable solutions that can be implemented across various spectrums and types of businesses.

These various solutions come from a variety of sources. Many were inspired by the design-thinking session held at the 2017 Impact Travel Global Summit. Others were supplied by ITA’s many local chapters around the world. The study also highlights examples and opinions from many well known and emerging names in the travel industry, such as 1 Hotels, Airbnb,, BookDifferent, Destination Better, G Adventures, Global Sustainable Travel Council, Hostelling International USA, Intrepid Travel, Lokal Travel, Sustainable Travel International, Tourism Cares, TUI Group, Urban Adventures and

Written and edited by Jeremy Smith 

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