Tourism for Tomorrow Newsletter June 2018

Invitation to join WTTC Declaration on Illegal Wildlife Trade

Earlier this year, WTTC’s President & CEO Gloria Guevara Manzo invited all WTTC Members to become signatories of WTTC’s Declaration on Illegal Trade in Wildlife. This is a new initiative to address a global challenge which is not only having a huge impact on some parts of our sector, but one which Travel & Tourism can play a vital role in addressing. Having launched the initiative during WTTC’s Global Summit in Buenos Aires, the Declaration has already received a significant amount of media interest, such as these articles in Travelweekly and TTG.
The commitment is simple: signatories commit to embrace the actions set out in the Declaration as relevant to them, and via a Working Group comprised of individuals from each signatory organisation, report back to WTTC on progress. WTTC is then able to communicate at a global level the commitment, actions and progress of the tourism sector in tackling this issue.

There are already over 55 signatories from within WTTC’s membership. WTTC is now encouraging participation from as many companies from the private sector as possible as well as trade associations, tourist boards and NGOs who have a particular interest in this area. WWF, African Parks and Tourism Cares have already formally signed up to support this effort.
To become a signatory, please e-mail and she will send you the relevant documents.

Interview with Tourism for Tomorrow 2018 Environment Award Winner Mike Kilburn, Airport Authority Hong Kong

To celebrate World Environment Day, Tourism for Tomorrow Environment winner, Mike Kilburn, Assistant General Manager of Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK), tells us about greening one of the world’s largest transport hubs. 

How did AAHK start its green journey?
Back in 2012, we pledged to become the world’s greenest airport. To work out how we were going to get there, we conducted a study to determine our performance compared with other global airport hubs. While we’re competitive with the larger hubs regarding scale, when it comes to sustainability, we realised we could take best practice examples from airports of all sizes. Where useful we have integrated some of these practices into our own operations.
How has AAHK gone about reducing carbon and greening operations differently?
Most airports focus on what they can do for the environment as the operator. Our strategy has been to go beyond AAHK’s organisational boundary by designing programmes that actively involve our airport business partners—what we call our “airport-wide” approach—which accelerates the rate of change. For example, after providing free training and access to our carbon measurement tool, 54 businesses at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) now report together on a single airport-wide carbon reduction target. By 2015 we had achieved a 25.6% reduction in carbon intensity (from a 2008 baseline). Also, by engaging with over 100 restaurants, caterers and other airport business partners on food waste, we recycle over 2,000 tonnes of food per year into fishmeal, while our food rescue programme provides 33,000 meals a year to disadvantaged people. 
How do you keep everyone motivated to do their bit?
An essential part of maintaining momentum is providing value to programme participants and supporting them on the journey. In our carbon programme, this includes free technical support, talking to CEOs, and a multi-tiered awards scheme that rewards not only those that secure the most significant reductions but also promotes best practice. AAHK also provides the transport support to collect food waste and, separately, edible food for the whole airport community; this is not only more efficient but breeds a culture of inclusivity. 
What is your advice to other airports or organisations aiming to implement large-scale change?
To get stakeholders and businesses on board, you must offer them programmes that are useful, easy to implement and (ideally) free of charge. Once such an approach has been developed, an invitation from the CEO, followed by a public pledge ceremony is vital to secure buy-in from the top management of participating companies. It’s important to reward those that do well, rather than punish anyone for not taking part.
Finally, this year’s World Environment Day kick-started the #beatplasticpollution campaign. How are airports responding to the plastic crisis?
At HKIA we are preparing our tenants for the introduction of waste charging, which will create a new financial incentive to reduce waste. AAHK is also participating in a study to identify methods for reducing the use of single-use plastic beverage containers as these are a significant source of plastic waste at HKIA.

Written by Holly Tuppen

Sustainable cities focus: Sydney 

Tourism continues to grow in Australia’s most populous city. Sydney welcomed around 8.2 million overnight stays in 2016, and contributes around a quarter of the country’s Travel & Tourism GDP and around 22% of its related jobs, according to WTTC’s travel and tourism impact report on the city.

As part of the city’s Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan, the City of Sydney is aiming for 70% emissions reduction for the local government area from a 2006 baseline, and net zero emissions by 2050. Measures include planting 800 trees a year in the city, eventually doubling the size of the urban canopy. Elsewhere over 6,500 LED street lights have been installed since March 2012, resulting in a reduction of more than 48% in related carbon emissions and a saving to the city of up to $800,000 each year in electricity bills. The City has also become Australia’s first carbon-neutral government.

Another part of the 2030 plan is the Liveable Green Network, which looks to make the local area as sustainable and connected as possible. Sydney is building a 200km cycling network including 55km of separated cycleways. It is also investing over AUS$15 million each year on new and upgraded footpaths and improved signage to make exploring the city on foot more pleasurable. 

However, there is still much work to be done. In 2015/2016 the city’s tourism accommodation and entertainment sector was responsible for 21% of the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions, 14 percent of potable water consumption and 47 per cent of the city’s commercial waste, only 50 per cent of which is currently recycled. According to a draft report from earlier this year - Making Sydney a Sustainable Destination - only 30 per cent of Sydney accommodation has environmental performance ratings. For the city to achieve its ambitious goals, its tourism sector will have to commit to significant reductions too. 

New research reveals full carbon footprint of tourism

Tourism’s carbon footprint is about four times larger than previously thought, according to a new study published in May in Nature Climate Change. Where previous estimates have only accounted for the direct emissions from the industry, this new study, conducted by researchers from the University of Sydney, University of Queensland and National Cheng Kung University, attempted to measure the entire supply chain of tourism. 

By factoring in the climate costs of transportation, accommodation, food and beverages, souvenirs, clothing, cosmetics and other goods, they found that global tourism is responsible for about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Furthermore the researchers made clear that this figure was set to grow considerably more in the coming years. For the purposes of the study they tracked tourism-related emissions from 2009 to 2013. They found that over that four year period emissions had increased by around 15%, from 3.9 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon-dioxide equivalent (CO₂-e) to 4.5Gt. Should global tourism continue to grow and develop on the same business-as-usual model, the researchers say that carbon emissions from the industry would soar to about 6.5Gt by 2025.

"Given that tourism is set to grow faster than many other economic sectors, the international community may consider its inclusion in the future in climate commitments, such as the Paris Accord, by tying international flights to specific nations," said Co-author Dr Ya-Yen Sun, from the University of Queensland's Business School and the National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan. "Carbon taxes or carbon trading schemes - in particular for aviation - may be required to curtail unchecked future growth in tourism-related emissions."

Hilton announces commitments to doubling social impact and halving environmental impact 

Hilton Worldwide

Hotel chain Hilton has announced a commitment to cut its environmental footprint in half and double its social impact investment by 2030. It is the first major hotel group to commit to a science based targets approach, reducing carbon emissions intensity by 61%, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). It will also reduce water consumption and waste by 50%; and sustainably source meat, poultry, fresh produce, seafood and cotton.

Meanwhile, the company will double the amount it spends with local and minority-owned suppliers, and double its investment in programs to help women and youth around the world. “For nearly 100 years, Hilton has been driven by our mission to have a positive impact on the communities surrounding our hotels,” said Christopher J. Nassetta, President and CEO, Hilton, and Chairman, World Travel & Tourism Council. “In this Golden Age of Travel, we are taking a leadership role to ensure that the destinations where travelers work, relax, learn and explore are vibrant and resilient for generations of adventurers yet to come.”

Meanwhile, new consumer research conducted by the group has given extra credibility to Hilton’s corporate responsibility strategy. According to a survey of 72,000 Hilton guests, social, environmental and ethical considerations are increasingly important factors in their buying preferences, all the more so for younger guests. Conducted in May, the survey asked travelers if they research a hotel company’s environmental and social efforts. It discovered that 33% actively seek this information before booking – and that figure rises to 44% for those under 25 years old. announces Booking Booster award winners has announced the 10 sustainable tourism startups receiving scaling grants as part of its 2018 Booking Booster accelerator program. Indian startups Sakha Consulting Wings: Women on Wheels and Global Himalayan Expedition were awarded this year’s highest grants of €325k and €400k respectively. Social enterprise Sakha Consulting has been launched to offer safe transport solutions for women by women in selected cities in India, providing livelihoods with dignity through professional driving opportunities to resource-poor women as part of the “Women on Wheels” (WOW) initiative. Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE) organises impact expeditions to provide clean energy and digital education access to the remote mountain communities of the Himalayas, helping to put them on the map for future travelers to explore. It is also one of the winners of this year’s WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards

All 10 of the sustainable tourism startups received grants from the 2018 Booster Program’s €2 million fund as follows: Community Homestay Network (Nepal) for €225k, Keteka (United States: Operating in Central and South America, Antarctica) for €275k and Wheel the World (United States) for €275k. HiveSters (Thailand), Hotel Con Corazón (Netherlands: Operating in Nicaragua), KITRO (Switzerland), Reflow (Netherlands) and Tastemakers (United States: Operating in Africa) each received grants of €100k.

“The vision and passion that we’ve seen from all the startups this year has been truly inspiring,” said Gillian Tans, President and CEO of “We’re all looking forward to seeing how their plans unfold over the coming weeks and months as we work together to bring their vision for a more sustainable travel industry to even more destinations worldwide."

Airbnb announces the partners of the Community Tourism Programme

Airbnb Logo

Airbnb has announced the 24 partners of the Community Tourism Programme, an Airbnb initiative that supports organisations that promote and foster sustainable and people-powered tourism.  Between them, the projects will receive €1.25m to support unique, authentic and local travel experiences in destinations across Europe.

The supported projects include: a new trail route over 100 km connecting historic sites, traditional neighborhoods, small businesses and greenspaces across and around Munich; a Spanish Eco & Travel Film Festival showing films focused on sustainability, development and natural tourism; and My Green Trip, an innovative non-profit organisation that helps travellers connect to a network of environmental organisations, a cleaning kit and cleanup activities on their trip.

To see the full range of projects and partners, click here.

The Travel Corporation commits to eliminate single-use plastics by 2022

On June 6, World Environment Day, The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) family of brands announced that over the next five years it will phase out all single-use plastics from its travel and tourism companies with its “Multi-Year Plastics Elimination Strategy.” The announcement comes as TTC, under the guidance of their not-for-profit TreadRight Foundation, officially instituted an immediate ban of more than 60 types of single-use plastic items such as straws, stir sticks, water bottles, plastic bags, and cutlery from its 40 global offices.

“We are absolutely committed to doing our part to eliminate avoidable plastic waste and making a positive impact in the communities that we live in and visit,” says Brett Tollman, Chief Executive, TTC and Co-Founder of The TreadRight Foundation. “As a group with offices in more than 15 countries and operating in 70 countries around the world, we recognize the need to do our part to ensure that we do not further contribute to this planetary crisis. We are also encouraging our more than 10,000 team members to join us in this fight by reducing the use and consumption of products contained or served in plastic in their daily lives as well. We hope this sets a meaningful example to other businesses to join the movement in working to stop the scourge of plastics on a global scale.” 

Photo credit: Forest Starr and Kim Starr

Global Eco Asia-Pacific - Call for Papers Released 

Global Eco

Ecotourism Australia has released its call for papers for the 2018, 26th Annual Conference to be held in Townsville 26-28 November 2018. This year, Global Eco Asia-Pacific focuses on the evolving role of ecotourism in a world facing multiple sustainability and social challenges. The event will bring together key players that can evolve this critical sector of the tourism industry – the operators, protected area managers, destination developers, applied researchers and destination marketers. 

In particular, Conference Convenor Tony Charters expects there will be very strong interest and representation from reef managers across the globe who are facing the same issues in managing reef-based ecotourism in an environment of multiple pressures, particularly in relation to climate change. 

Go to and express an interest in offering a paper.

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