Tourism for Tomorrow Newsletter November 2018

Sustainable cities focus: Copenhagen 

CopenhagenIf you are looking for a benchmark for a sustainable capital city, you’d struggle to a better choice than the winner of the European Green Capital Award in 2014. This month, WTTC’s City Focus looks at one of the most livable cities in the world, whose citizens have also been voted the happiest - the Danish capital, Copenhagen.

For many years, Copenhagen has put a combined focus on environmental sustainability and the wellbeing of its citizens and visitors at the heart of developing its city. As far back as the 1960s planning policies focused on supporting pedestrians, implementing taxes on cars and gas, and limiting parking within the central city, while establishing bike lanes and green shortcuts. Such early progress continued in 1995, when it launched one of the world’s first free bike-share programs, meaning the city is now home to more bikes than people. 

This focus on sustainable mobility represents one of the four pillars supporting Copenhagen’s carbon reduction Master Plan - the other three being energy consumption, energy production and city administration. The aim is to be carbon neutral by 2025, which would also make it the first capital city in the world to achieve this goal.

The city’s DMO, Visit Copenhagen, makes it clear how this focus on improving the quality of life for its permanent citizens also makes the Danish capital a vibrant and welcoming place for temporary visitors. WIth 70% of all the city’s hotel rooms holding an official eco-certification, the website encourages visitors to: “Experience it for yourself. Swim in the clean waters of the city’s harbour baths, stay in a sustainable hotel, eat organic, and ride the electric city bikes around the old maritime city.”

New UN Report provides roadmap to create inclusive tourism models

UNWTOThe United Nations World Tourism Organization has just released a report designed to serve as a roadmap to promote inclusive tourism models in destinations around the world. The “Global Report on Inclusive Tourism Destinations” urges further action and deeper collaboration in the tourism industry to develop inclusive tourism. 

Modelling inclusive tourism destinations on the capacity of tourism to integrate disadvantaged groups and benefit from its activity, is at the centre of this report. Best practise examples range from Scotland and Korea to Mexico and South Africa and cover a range of approaches, from public-private to multi-country partnerships to work to ensure disadvantaged families get the chance to benefit from tourism. “As globalisation, interconnectivity and a growing middle class leads to ever more people travelling, the world will continue seeming to get smaller and inclusion will become even more of a priority,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. 

New initiative to create blueprint for hotels to tackle modern slavery 

YCIThe Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS) – a public-private partnership that aims to make modern slavery economically unprofitable – is investing $490,000 to support survivors of human trafficking through the International Tourism Partnership’s Youth Career Initiative (YCI) who won the 2016 WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow People Award. During the two-year project YCI will partner with hotels and non-profit organisations in Mumbai and Hanoi, working to support 130 survivors in developing access to skills, training and employment opportunities, whilst also creating safe workplaces capable of supporting vulnerable young people - in particular women and girls.

YCI’s long-standing partnership with the hotel sector, and strategic engagement with the industry on human rights issues means its partner hotel companies are willing to support survivors of trafficking to access marketable skills, understand the needs of employing a survivor, and are dedicated to scaling up the shared impact.

Head of YCI Scott Robinson said, “It is tremendously exciting to be among the first grantees of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery and to be able to demonstrate the potential of the hotel industry to be part of the solution in supporting survivors of human trafficking. Human trafficking is a horrendous crime, and YCI and its local partners are proud to help survivors gain new skills, find employment, and build a better life."

Decarbonising aviation possible if governments act now, says new report

AirplaneIt is possible to dramatically reduce the climate impact of flying if we act fast, says a new report by Transport & Environment. According to the report, titled ‘Roadmap to Decarbonising European Aviation’, the industry needs to switch to synthetic fuels as quickly as possible, and adopt rigorous carbon pricing mechanisms that push kerosene out of the mix. Earlier this month the IPCC’s latest climate report also highlighted the key role that synthetic jet fuel should play.

Synthetic fuels have been used in the past to power aircraft but they are currently significantly more expensive than aviation kerosene, which is tax free, explains the report. Running aircraft entirely on synthetic fuels would increase the cost of a plane ticket by 58% - assuming kerosene remains untaxed, or 23% if a full carbon price would be levied on kerosene, claim Transport & Environment.

To facilitate this switch to electrofuels, the report says that the demand for kerosene must start to be cut and carbon pricing must gradually be increased till it reaches the equivalent of €150 a tonne. "This report confirms that we need to decarbonise aviation if we want to avoid catastrophic global warming," said Andrew Murphy, aviation manager at T&E. "The good news is that radically cleaner aviation is possible even with today’s technology. Getting to zero starts with properly pricing flying, and progressively increasing the use of sustainable synthetic fuels. There is a cost to this, but in light of how cheap subsidised air travel has become, and the incalculable cost of runaway climate change, it’s a price worth paying."

Tanzanian coral reef sanctuary wins prestigious Global Open Refuge Award

ChumbeChumbe Island Coral Reef Sanctuary has won a Global Ocean Refuge Award for Most Effective Conservation of Marine Life. The award was announced at the 2018 Ocean Conference in Bali, Indonesia, meaning Chumbe Island, which is located in the Western Indian Ocean off the coast of Tanzania, is one of just ten marine protected areas (MPAs) around the world that together make up the Global Ocean Refuge System. Earlier this year Chumbe was a finalist in the WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. 

"Chumbe Island Coral Park is honoured to receive The Global Ocean Refuge Award,” commented Sibylle Riedmiller, Director of Chumbe Island Coral Park Ltd. “This acknowledges that the private sector has an important role to play in the creation and financially sustainable management of Marine Protected Areas; ensuring transparent governance and best-practice scientific principles are utilised to maintain the biodiversity needed to protect our ocean ecosystems, and promoting livelihoods and food security for generations to come."

South African Tourism Minister calls on industry to lead response to climate crisis on World Responsible Tourism Day

GlobeDerek Hanekom, Minister of Tourism, South Africa, used his keynote address for World Responsible Tourism Day 2018 to make on urgent call to the tourism industry "to spread the responsible tourism message loudly, clearly and far and wide."

Speaking on Wednesday 7 November at WTM London, Hanekom said there were two topics that the industry most had to address – climate change and overtourism. "Without massively changed behaviour the world stands to destroy itself," he said. "Long before then the growth in tourism stands to come to an end. We are perilously close to the point where carbon emissions will irreversibly change the symbiotic life systems that sustain life. If we don’t do this we will remain on the tragic path of being the architects of our own destruction."

He concluded with a call to the whole industry to lead in developing a sustainable future. "Let us be the industry that leads the world towards sustainable practices," he said. "If we do this we will ensure there is a world, and one with people living in harmony with nature and each other, and enjoying fulfilling, sustainable tourism experiences."

Other topics addressed across the three days included child protection, developing indigenous tourism, and the need for national tourism bodies to do much more to promote animal welfare.

Why doing the right thing in business and the transformational triangle work: Speech by Fiona Jeffery OBE to the Social Tourism World Congress 

Fiona Jeffery OBE Fiona Jeffery OBE,  Founder & Chairman, Just a Drop, and Chair, WTTC's Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, delivered this speech to the International Social Tourism World Congress on 17 October, 2018.

I’m a person whose career has been shaped in the Private Sector as Managing Director and Chair of World Travel Market for 26 years, the world’s largest dedicated business to business event in travel and tourism. Attracting over 5,000 companies from 187 countries and 50,000 travel and tourism professionals.

I’ve also as a consequence spent 30 years working with governments, and in addition to this spent the last 20 years running a not-for-profit non-governmental organisation. This has given me an insight into the role of all three sectors: public, private and the third sector as it is generally called, referring to NGO’s and charitable organisations. And it’s what I’ve learnt from this, perhaps rather unique perspective, that I’d like to share with you this afternoon.

However one chooses to package things, for me business has to achieve two fundamental goals. First, be successful and profitable, and second: "Do the Right Thing". The first is an accepted principle of business, the second sadly not always. But why not?

For many decades now the private sector, benefitting from government cross-border strategies, has been a driver of global travel and tourism growth. Much of that has had a positive impact on job creation, cash receipts for destinations and led to infrastructural development.

However, amidst that growth 25 years ago, I felt very keenly that if our industry didn’t change the way it was operating it would ultimately destroy its own business model. It was critical we looked to protect the very product we were seeking to promote – namely the environment and our destination communities.

Running World Travel Market I felt I was in a unique position to be able to influence knowledge and understanding, so I created an initiative called Environmental Awareness Day in 1996. Its specific aim and purpose was to educate the private and public sectors about what it meant to Protect Our Planet and Create Better Futures for our Communities across the world.

At that time, the bottom line was no one was engaged. 'Responsible tourism', 'sustainable tourism' were ideas people found too difficult to comprehend and at that time weren’t part of normal business vocabulary. People didn’t truly understand what they meant and how it impacted them.

The challenge too is that sustainable tourism covers a very broad spectrum of issues and too often the language used is either academic or technical in its nature, turning off and alienating the ordinary person in the street and in business, as something too complex to understand, never mind engage with.

So while I was grappling to overcome the disinterest and apathy surrounding responsible and sustainable tourism practises, (which I should just add, 25 years on, has now evolved into World Responsible Tourism Day in partnership with the UNWTO, attracts over 3000 responsible tourism practitioners from around the world, and so eventually has become a success) but I wasn’t that patient, so I decided to come up with a simpler idea that tourism businesses could easily understand.

I’d become a Mum and so I decided to identify a cause that was both global in its reach and environmentally sound, and impacted the lives of children and their families wherever they were in the world. A cause that travel and tourism companies could contribute to and create a real and meaningful impact.

I then learnt that, at that time, a child died every 17 seconds from dirty water. That dirty water was the biggest killer of children under the age of 5 due to diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera and bilharzia but just as significantly, that at that time just £1/€1 could deliver clean water to a child for nearly 10 years. And so Just a Drop, the water charity and community development organisation was born.

I called it Just a Drop because the principle was if each of us gave a little, collectively, we as an industry, could make a significant difference. But we also created it in such a way that travel and tourism businesses could see clearly where their funds went because they contributed to specific projects and would be able to identify with those communities, so it became a WIN WIN for all. Tourism businesses were benefiting communities but they could also promote the work they were supporting to their customers and engage their employees.

Just a Drop was created before Corporate Social Responsibility was part of business vocabulary - that came later - but in many ways this was a very early example of CSR. However, it was borne not out of a desire to achieve business targets but from a desire to ensure that successful businesses "Do the Right Thing" and a recognition that it would also improve the corporate image of my organisation World Travel Market.

Now many companies, who want to demonstrate their CSR credentials, partner with Just a Drop as a way of giving back, without having to also take on the responsibility for running those social enterprises and programmes. Instead they are left in the hands of professional NGO’s. This means that the business world focuses on doing what its good at and driving business but at the same time adds value and helps drive and support social output by supporting professional NGO’s

Just a Drop is a registered charity, but I don’t consider it a charity. We are a community development organisation whose role it is to help those who simply need a necessary leg up to better help themselves- it’s NOT charity.

And that is my request to everyone here today, and to the private sector more broadly.

We find ourselves in the fortunate position, with responsibilities to fulfil, targets to meet, challenges to overcome. But assuming a business gets off the starting blocks and becomes sustainable in its own right, then in my view sitting in its DNA should be "Doing the Right Thing".

But- what should that look like? It will be different things to different people and different organisations.

What’s important is that as businesses you create and identify synergies that in addition to making a positive difference somewhere else, also add value to your business and where possible are also able to create engagement across the business with customers and employees, benefiting everyone.

It’s about demonstrating leadership in an organisation and increasing the positive impact and influence the private sector can have on the world – which if implemented in a joined up way could, in my view, be transformational.

I call it the Transformational Triangle.

As I’ve said, I sit on the UNWTO World Committee for Tourism Ethics and thanks to the creation of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals we’ve the ideal framework and umbrella to hang social and environmental progress and bring positive change to our world through poverty reduction, social inclusion, environmental protection and conservation.

To better achieve these goals we need this Transformational Triangle working in a joined up manner.

This means:

  • Governments – creating viable frameworks for business and the third sector to operate effectively and efficiently.
  • Businesses – to provide the engine and necessary impetus to actively participate in the change we want to see, and the
  • Not for Profit Third sector – to underpin delivery on the ground, because to be effective on the ground you need the right organisations creating the right engagement to achieve sustainable and impactful outcomes.

This is the Transformational Triangle.

The bottom line is it needs us all being aware of the massive contribution we can make and to deliver that well.

And to achieve that, it’s about having a Collective Vision and demonstrating Collaborative Leadership and Partnership.

More and more businesses are also seeing that "Doing the Right Thing" is also good for their Business.

Intrepid for example visits Bumi Sehat on three of its Indonesia tours – a social enterprise project which protects the welfare of pregnant women and infants. The project is also supported by the Intrepid Foundation, a not-for-profit fund established in 2002 by Intrepid Travel founders Darrell Wade and Geoff Manchester. By providing prenatal, postpartum and birth services, general health services and emergency care, Bumi Sehat is making impoverished communities healthier.
Global Himalayan Expeditions is a small social impact tourism enterprise that takes travellers from all over the globe to the remote villages of the Himalayas and at the same time provides them with access to energy by installing solar grids. The impact on these communities’ lives is transformational, but GHE also as a result employ staff to run their expeditions and coordinate their village programmes. They’ve created many more homestay experiences for local people and travellers to share as well as rekindled a market for local craft making.
At the other end of the scale TUI as one of the largest tour operators in the world has been managing its local footprint and supply chain for many decades and has seen many financial benefits both in terms of customer satisfaction and cost reductions.
The point is "Doing the Right Thing" can be achieved by all businesses large or small and it adds value to both business and society and the positive impact our industry can so clearly deliver.

A further encouraging sign is that consumer attitudes to tourism are changing. For the first time in over a decade we are now seeing and experiencing the adverse impact the lack of sustainable practises are having on our destinations, communities and how this is impacting the customer experience.

Take the overcrowding backlash experienced in the summer of 2017 in Barcelona, Dubrovnik and Venice. This isn’t a new issue, Venice has suffered from tourist overcrowding for over a decade, but for the first time local people began actively protesting and the tourism industry has had to respond. Consumers have to consider changing their behaviour, be it the destination or time of travel. The cruise sector has had to change its operational practises. As an industry we should be more concerned with effective Destination Management than Destination Marketing and appreciate the difference.

The BBC’s Blue Planet documentaries have raised massive consumer consciousness regarding the health of our oceans and marine life, leading to the long awaited debate on the use of single use plastics. This has led to change behaviour with companies such as Sky, BBC, and Hurtigruten banning single use plastics and many more will follow.

The water crisis in Cape Town brought into stark public awareness the fear of what they referred to as "Day Zero", a city with no running water with water queues at centralised taps. The fear that this could become reality and the consequent ramifications, resulted in wholesale behavioural change by residents, businesses, and local government but was also positively embraced by the tourism businesses and the tourists themselves. A lot has been learnt from their experience which should be shared across the world in the interests of better water conservation and management.

The killing of Cecil the Lion by a trophy hunter in Zimbabwe created a worldwide outcry and again raised awareness of a growing public desire to protect our planets wildlife for generations to come.

So for the first time in many years I feel more positive about our industry’s role in contributing to this growing movement for behavioural change in the interests of preserving our planet and communities. The movement has been around for 25 years but progression in my view has been much too slow, but as understanding grows as to what "Doing the Right Thing" actually means in practical terms, so does our need to respond.

So finally- How do we achieve this?

Forgive me if I’m speaking to the converted, but as someone who has worked in the Private Sector all my life and worked with and in the Public and Third sectors these are the guidelines I recommend:

  • Build into your business plan a commitment to "Do the Right Thing"
  • Create a Sustainable Tourism Framework or Charter for your business
  • Raise your game in terms of your corporate social responsibility programme and engage customers and employees
  • If possible create synergy between your business and your social/environmental programme so they complement one another
  • Consult the UNWTO Global Code of Tourism Ethics and the UN Sustainable Development Goals for guidance and ensure we keep working collectively in the same direction
  • Consider showcasing your achievements through Awards programmes such as the WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards and UNWTO Ethics Award in order to promote and receive public accreditation for your achievements but very importantly help share best practise so we don’t keep reinventing the wheel

I’ve always believed that from small acorns grow oak trees and my key philosophy that launched Just a Drop was that if everyone just gave that 1 euro collectively we could make a life changing difference to communities across the world

As an industry we have a huge power and capability to bring social, environmental and economic change but if as an industry we don’t take more responsibility to protect the very product (our planet) we seek to promote, we don’t deserve to be in business in the next 25 years.

To find out more about my work as founder and chairperson of Just a Drop visit our website.

 Newsletter written and edited by Jeremy Smith

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