Tourism for Tomorrow Newsletter September 2018

Tourism for Tomorrow Awards 2019 open for applications 

T4T logo

The World Travel & Tourism Council's Tourism for Tomorrow Awards 2019 are now open. This year, there are new and revised categories, including:

  • The Social Impact Award, which recognises an organisation working to improve the people and places where it operates.
  • The Destination Stewardship Award, which celebrates organisations that have rejuvenated a place, maintained and developed its authenticity, brought stakeholders together and created something new and attractive.
  • The Climate Action Award, which seeks to recognise innovative actions through either behaviour change of guests and employees, policy changes or the introduction of technology, to reduce the scale and impacts of climate change.
  • The Investing in People Award, which recognises an organisation demonstrating leadership in becoming an exciting, attractive and equitable employer in the sector.
  • Finally, the Changemakers Award recognises an organisation which has made real, positive and impactful change in a specific area of focus, which will change each year. In 2019, the focus will be on fighting the illegal wildlife trade through sustainable tourism.

"Over the past 15 years, Tourism for Tomorrow winners have exemplified leadership in responsible tourism initiatives and set the absolute benchmark for their industry peers,” said Gloria Guevara, President & CEO, WTTC.  “On behalf of WTTC and our members, I welcome organisations operating within the sustainable tourism space to apply to the Awards programme, which serve to further educate governments and the public and private sector through their outstanding accomplishments."

The 2019 finalists will be announced in January 2019 and the winners will be announced during next year’s WTTC Global Summit, which will take place in Seville, Spain, 3-4 April 2019. 

Applications can be made online. The closing date for entries is 14 November 2018. 

Interview with Tourism for Tomorrow 2018 Community Award Winner Paras Loomba, Global Himalayan Expedition

Paras Loomba

Tourism for Tomorrow Community winner, Paras Loomba, founder of Global Himalayan Expedition, talks to Holly Tuppen about making an impact. 

What gave you the idea for Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE)?

In 2012, I went on a trip to Antarctica, and when I returned to India I felt changed; I wanted to do something that made a difference. I looked for opportunities and soon started running expeditions to Himalayan villages. With a background in engineering, I quickly saw an opportunity — tourists could help provide these villages with a sustainable source of light. For the next three years, I took groups of 20 tourists into the mountains to find suitable villages and then in 2014 we electrified our first village — a 1000-year old monastic community.  

GHE is an innovative concept; how does it work? 

I call the concept ‘impact travel’. We run about eight public trips a year and a few Corporate Social Responsibility trips, where businesses get sponsorship to fund an expedition. During the public trips, up to 25 tourists from all over the world join us to carry solar micro-grids material into some of the most remote Himalayan villages — villages that have no form of electricity. The whole expedition then helps to install the micro-grid, and our engineers train the villagers in how to use and maintain them, to ensure that it is a sustainable operation.   

A by-product of the treks has been helping the villagers to establish homestay businesses. This is a fundamental part of our impact because it means villagers directly benefit from the tourism we’re bringing into the region. The support we offer regarding training and communication is life-changing, and in return, each homestay donates $2 of the $15 fee for the maintenance of the electricity supply. Since it only costs each homestay approximately $4 to maintain the electricity per year, the remaining fund is spent on further development — TVs, mobile phones or improving the homestays.

GHE has only been going officially for five years, what have been the key achievements in that time?

Over the last five years, GHE has electrified over 70 villages in the Himalayas, set up 377 solar microgrids and impacted over 30,000 lives. We have taken over 700 tourists from 60 different countries to get directly involved in the electrification of these remote villages. Almost 30 per cent of the tourists who have been part of these expeditions have started similar social projects in their backyard, and at least 10 per cent of them are still engaged with GHE. 

What’s next for GHE?

We’re now looking to partner with other remote mountain regions around the world to set up similar initiatives. This takes time since every region has its own unique set of needs, but we’re talking to potential partners in Nepal, Indonesia, Colombia, and Mount Cameroon in West Africa.

The homestays have been such a successful part of GHE that we’ve set up an online booking tool called Mountain Homestays — a bit like Airbnb for remote mountain communities.  

What is your advice to others looking to solve community issues through tourism?

It’s important to keep challenging how sustainable your operating model is and not take shortcuts, e.g. offer the odd handout here or there. It also helps to work in partnership with existing NGOs and spend much time in the communities you want to support, to find out their real needs.

Written by Holly Tuppen

Sustainable cities focus: New York 

New York

This month, to coincide with the city’s hosting of the World Economic Forum Sustainable Impact Summit, the City Focus looks at New York. According to WTTC’s latest City Travel & Tourism Impact Report, tourism spending generated a GDP of $24 billion in New York in 2016. Furthermore, 48% of the city’s tourism revenue came from international spending, relative to around 20% for the US as a whole. 

In 2015, New York City committed to becoming the most sustainable big city in the world and a global leader in the fight against climate change. It committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050; to having the cleanest air of any US city; to achieving Zero Waste by 2030; and to ensuring all New Yorkers have better access to parks.

In the three years since then, the city has invested nearly $500 million to improve the energy efficiency of its more than 1 million buildings, and planted over 620,000 trees and more than 5 million flowers.

There are several hotels showcasing the possibilities for sustainable urban accommodation. The Crosby Street Hotel was the first LEED Gold Certified building in New York City, with 61% of the building site designed as “open space” to maximize air filtration and natural light inside.  Meanwhile, the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge was built with 22 per cent recycled materials, has a wind-powered generator, a grey-water irrigation system and a sustainable waste-management system that includes recycling and a food digester.

There are also growing numbers of innovative sustainable and social impact tour companies based in the city. Companies such as and Turnstile Tours are both members of B Corp, and they both provide visitors with unique insights into hidden and lesser known sides of New York, while ensuring that their work supports the communities and habitats they visit.

Finally, each November the city hosts the Impact Travel Alliance’s annual summit at the United Nations. It’s an event that has rapidly become a key part of the calendar for anyone interested in learning how the industry can develop into being a force for good. 

Intrepid Group becomes world's largest Travel B Corporation

Intrepid Group

The world’s largest adventure travel company, Intrepid Group, has become the world’s largest travel B Corp, joining a growing community of businesses looking to focus on delivering positive social and environmental impacts. To become a certified B Corp, a company must submit to an independent assessment of its social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

To achieve certification, 23 of Intrepid's companies were independently audited. They were weighted and graded on how they meet B Lab’s social and environmental standards, where a minimum total score of 80/200 points is required. The process of accreditation has taken Intrepid three years, working with B Lab to create a new roadmap for medium and large travel companies to become certified B Corps. 

"B Corp certification tells our travellers about the people behind the brands and provides a mark of trust that we’re committed to being a business that benefits people and the planet,” said Intrepid Group CEO James Thornton.

Read Intrepid’s B Impact report here

UNWTO's theme for World Tourism Day for 2018 is 'Tourism and The Digital Transformation'


This year’s World Tourism Day focuses on the importance of digital technologies in tourism, providing opportunities for innovation and preparing the sector for the future of work. Celebrated in Budapest, Hungary on 27 September 2018, the aim is to put the opportunities provided to tourism, by technological advances including big data, artificial intelligence and digital platforms, on the map of sustainable development. “Harnessing innovation and digital advances provides tourism with opportunities to improve inclusiveness, local community empowerment and efficient resource management, amongst other objectives within the wider sustainable development agenda,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

That day will also see the announcement of the semi-finalists of the 1st UNWTO Tourism Startup Competition, launched by UNWTO and Globalia to support startups with innovative ideas capable of revolutionizing the way we travel and enjoy tourism.

Find out more at the official World Tourism Day page

The Travel Corporation partners with PATA to address food waste in tourism 

pata buffet

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has announced that it is partnering with The Travel Corporation (TTC) on its BUFFET (Building an Understanding For Food Excess in Tourism) Initiative. By becoming an official sponsor, TTC has made a commitment to help raise awareness of food waste in the travel and tourism industry, sharing best practice solutions that its various brands and partners have been implementing to reduce and prevent excess food waste in a PATA special report that will be published and distributed to the hotel and tourism industry.

“The tourism and hospitality sectors have to take immediate action to find solutions that can help reduce food waste, ensuring a direct impact to reducing carbon emissions,” said Brett Tollman, Chief Executive, The Travel Corporation. “Climate change has greatly affected some tourism destinations, and it is imperative that everyone takes on a proactive role to drive positive change and protect our planet for future generations.” 

“What better way to support such a meaningful initiative through the youth challenge where we will get to hear the ideas of how to reduce food wastage from youths from all around the region. It is so important that we give these youths a platform to share their ideas about environment issues, responsibility and action.” 

WTTC is a key sponsor for PATA’s “BUFFET for Youth” Challenge that will take place at the PATA Annual Summit 2019 in Cebu, Philippines from 9-12 May 2019. 

For more information visit

Bali is tourist destination most at risk of water scarcity, says report 


A new report from the International Tourism Partnership lists the twelve major tourism destinations facing the highest water risk. The Destination Water Risk Index aims to provide the hotel sector and wider tourism industry and stakeholders with cutting-edge intelligence on water risk by priority tourism destinations. Bali tops the list which includes destinations in China, India, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and the Philippines. The Index also lists the destinations where water is severely undervalued and are therefore a risk for operators due to the extreme likelihood that water pricing will increase - in some cases by more than 60 times the current value.

“Demand for freshwater is likely to exceed supply by 40 percent by 2030 and we are all here seeking solutions to mitigate that," said ITP Director Madhu Rajesh, when launching the Index at the World Water Week event in Stockholm. “The hotel sector recognises its responsibility to better manage water. Realising that island nations and tourism destinations can be those most prone to water shortage, particularly where the tourism season overlaps with the driest months, we have captured this critical data for our members and the wider tourism industry.

“Solutions exist to prevent those risks by adopting a water stewardship approach. ITP’s members have shown – for example in Cape Town – that by working collaboratively and employing a range of measures water scarcity can be mitigated. This Index, with a first-of-its kind dataset, will help developers, Corporate Responsibility (CR) teams and property managers evaluate risks and take action in other high-risk destinations, to help prevent the next Cape Town and work towards sustainable growth of the hotel industry in water stressed destinations.”

The DWRI is the result of a collaboration between ITP, Ecolab and Greenview to overlay existing water risk and hotel industry databases. The Index seeks to help hotel developers, companies, their properties and wider tourism stakeholders to better understand and address their local water risk and its financial implications in the largest hotel markets in the world.

Presenting the Index, Emilio Tenuta Vice President of Corporate Sustainability, Ecolab said, “The Index identifies 12 locations with the highest overall risk when factoring water stress, future water cost increase risk, water usage intensity per occupied room, hotel supply, and hotel pipeline growth. These destinations should be prioritised by companies when designing their water stewardship strategies.

“Additionally, we’ve identified those destinations which are most susceptible to a water risk premium, because water is so undervalued. We project that in some locations the premium could result in the price of water being more than 64 times higher than it currently is, based on average cost / risk analysis globally. Businesses should also take this into account.”

The report includes a range of impact stories from hotels around the world describing water saving actions they've taken to reduce their water footprint and impact on local communities. These stand as best practice examples which can be replicated by others.

The DWRI report is free for anyone to download from the International Tourism Partnership website, as part of their charitable remit to share resources and best practice. Other resources, including ITP’s Water Stewardship Report, which outlines the six steps hotels must take to embed water stewardship, are also freely available.

Alongside the launch of this report, WTTC is also hosting a FREE online webinar with ITP, Ecolab and Greenview on Thursday 20th September 2018, 2-3PM (BST) called "Assessing risk and taking action: How Travel & Tourism can get ready for a water-scarce world." Register your attendance here.

Wildlife traffickers highly dependent on a vulnerable air transport sector, finds report


A new analysis of global wildlife trafficking seizures in the air transport sector reveals that wildlife traffickers rely heavily on commercial air transportation systems to smuggle endangered wildlife. Released in August, the report, In Plane Sight: Wildlife Trafficking in the Air Transport Sector, analyses global airport seizures of illegal wildlife and wildlife products from 2009 to 2017. It finds trafficking instances in at least 136 countries worldwide, and new data from 2017 shows a massive spike in rhino horn seizures, which nearly tripled from 2016 numbers.

The seizure data indicate that wildlife traffickers moving ivory, rhino horn, reptiles, birds, pangolins, marine products, and mammals by air tend to rely on large hub airports all over the world. Collectively, these categories account for about 81 percent of all trafficked wildlife, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and serve as indicators for broader trends within illicit wildlife trafficking.

In Plane Sight outlines more than a dozen recommendations based on seizure data for preventing wildlife trafficking through the air transport sector. These include building awareness among personnel and passengers, training air industry staff, strengthening corporate policies and seizure protocols, and sharing seizure information.

“Many airlines recognise the need to combat wildlife trafficking and are stepping up as leaders in this global effort,” said Jon Godson, Assistant Director of Environment at the International Air Transport Association (IATA). “Airline staff spend more time with passengers and baggage than customs authorities and can provide a key source of intelligence for enforcement agencies.” 

Written and edited by Jeremy Smith

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