Tourism for Tomorrow Newsletter April 2019

Winners of WTTC’s 2019 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards announced 

T4T Winners Announced

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is delighted to announce the 2019 leaders in sustainable tourism at the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards ceremony. The Awards, now in their 15th year, took place at a special ceremony during the WTTC Global Summit in Seville, Spain, to celebrate inspirational, world-changing tourism initiatives from around the globe. 

The 2019 WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Award Winners are highly commended and recognised for business practices of the highest standards that balance the needs of ‘people, planet and profits’ within the Travel & Tourism sector. Our 2019 Winners promote inclusive growth and illustrate a strong commitment to supporting change and transformation in business practices and consumer behaviour towards a more environmentally conscious sector.

The Winners of the 2019 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards are:

Gloria Guevara, President & CEO, WTTC, commented: ‘The finalists in this year’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards showcase the many ways in which our industry is dedicated to sustainable growth. In 2018, the Travel & Tourism sector contributed 10.4% of global GDP and supported 319 million jobs across the world. It is therefore essential that we continue to grow in the most sustainable and responsible way possible. The new award categories for this year are aligned with WTTC strategic priorities and illustrate that all members of this industry play a key role in driving the sector forward to a more responsible future. I congratulate them all on their fantastic accomplishments and leadership.’ 

Fiona Jeffery, OBE, Chair, WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, said: ‘The aim of the WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards is to showcase some of the most exceptional examples of sustainable tourism practices in the world, and inspire and encourage our industry to make a positive impact for both current and future generations. Over 15 years, we have seen the industry make great strides towards achieving these goals and we can see positive change happening. Our recent survey results show that 67% of travellers would consider a travel company’s sustainability agenda when booking a trip, whilst 48% of travellers would now pay more money to travel sustainably. Whilst there is still more to be done, we must harness the momentum for change to protect the product that sustains our very own industry.’

Jeff Rutledge, President and CEO, AIG Travel, Headline Sponsor of the Awards, stated: ‘From socially-inclusive employment initiatives to establishing one of the first rewilding projects in the Philippines, this year’s WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards finalists have proved to be an incredibly diverse group of changemakers from around the world. They have demonstrated that, regardless of the size or purpose of business, all members of the Travel & Tourism industry can afford to make sustainability a priority, and become part of our collective journey towards a greener future.’ 

For more information on the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards and all the Winners, please visit

Tourism CEOs gather in Spain for WTTC Annual Summit  


This month’s World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) 19th Global Summit is taking place in Seville, Spain, between 2-4 April, 2019. The overall theme for this year’s event is Changemakers. Global CEOs and founders of some of the largest companies in tourism have gathered in the southern European city to explore a range of issues confronting the industry and to learn from each other about some of the possible solutions. 

As well as the announcement of the winners of the annual Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, several of the sessions address issues around sustainability, including panels on: ”Are Cities Future Ready?”, “The Future of Jobs in the Age of Automation”, “Today’s Traveller: Authenticity, Values and Instagram”, and a Strategic Insight session on “The business case for sustainability”. 

Interview with Gary Knell, Chairman of National Geographic Partners

Gary Knell

An interview with Gary Knell, Chairman of National Geographic Partners, who also gave a keynote at the WTTC Global Summit in Seville, Spain where he provided his perspective on what's next in the world of communications, technology and sustainability and the challenges and opportunities for Travel & Tourism as a leading force for change.

In a world increasingly constrained by climate change, what will truly sustainable tourism look like?

On a personal level, I tend to think global, act local—starting with my own practices. I use public transportation; I try to rent hybrid cars and drive myself; I find the best way to explore a new city is on bike; I follow reviews and ratings that show the conservation efforts of properties and outfitters; I avoid single-use plastics; I try to choose businesses that employ locals and where I have the sense that locals are benefitting from tourism; I avoid over-touristed places as much as possible.  As a company, our National Geographic Unique Lodges have focused on reducing the climate impact of travelers visiting these destinations by implementing sustainable practices that both reduce energy use and employ alternative energies.  For example:

  • Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort (Canada) hydropower: When the Murray family embarked on Building Nimmo Bay nearly 40 years ago, the most available source of power was the waterfalls that thundered noisily from the top of Mount Stephens into the bay nearby, carrying rainfall and snow melt. Furnishing the labor themselves, the family installed a Pelton water wheel, which still provides the lodge with 85% of its energy needs.
  • Mara Plains Camp (Kenya) solar power: The camp is 100% off the grid, with all of its power- for both guests and staff- provided by solar panels. The lodge's lighting is entirely LED, and its wastewater is filtered and recycled for landscape irrigation.
  • Lapa Rios (Costa Rica) biogas production system: Local pigs are fed kitchen scraps and leftovers, and their waste is collected into a biogas converter, which produces enough methane gas to fuel the stove in the staff kitchen. The pigs eventually also provide food for staff, completing a sustainable circle of production.

Our lodges have also worked to preserve large tracts of land, protecting local biodiversity and preserving an important carbon sink for generations to come.  Examples:

  • Mashpi Lodge (Ecuador): former logging concession is now a 3,200+ acre rain forest reserve with dedicated biologists who monitor the region’s ecosystem and work on the conservation of its species (Mashpi Torrenteer frog in particular).
  • Lapa Rios Lodge (Costa Rica): has a conservation easement that ensures the future protection of 980 adjacent acres. This buffers Corcovado National Park, home to 2.5% of the planet’s biodiversity.
  • Grootbos Private Nature Reserve (South Africa): 6,400+ acres of reclaimed habitat in the Cape Floral kingdom. Owner purchased abandoned farms on degraded land and it has become a flourishing reserve of endemic lowland fynbos, has also led to the identification and preservation of new species. Partnered with 27 other landowners to protect more than 37,000+ acres of land.

With the global middle classes only set to grow, meaning more and more tourists, how will we address overcrowding in the years to come?

Travellers are going to the same places at the same time of year- and often at the same time of day. So we need to choose new routes, discover new destinations, slow down, spend more time with locals and less time at typical tourist spots. Avoid the crowd-- sacrifice seeing Venice and instead go to Parma. Be part of the conversation around the impact of Travel & Tourism and build your itineraries around your values. Also—share your values with other people, including your friend. When you choose to visit off-the-beaten-path it may take more time, but it makes a difference and broadens your world.
At National Geographic, we are actively looking for opportunities to take guests off the beaten path and to experience lesser-known destinations through our itineraries. We also actively support communities that are working to protect their heritage from the negative impacts of overtourism.

  • Although it can be difficult to find authentic travel experiences in the Caribbean, we’ve sought out lodge partners who are operating sustainably and encouraging smarter tourism. Tiamo Resort is a welcome alternative to big resorts in the Bahamas and was built to celebrate—and not disturb—Bahamian reefs and mangroves that surround it.
  • We’ve designed many of our active expeditions to take travellers to areas where not many tourists go. For example, our Iceland Adventure goes far beyond the overcrowded Golden Circle, to the far eastern and northern parts of the island. And on our Alaska Sea Kayaking Adventure, travellers have the opportunity to explore Glacier Bay by kayak—an intimate approach that avoids the crowds and the carbon footprint of the cruise ships.
  • Supporting Cultural Heritage and Local Economies through Tourism: Kasbah du Toubkal was built by local community members and remains a vibrant part of community life. Almost every member of the staff is from the surrounding villages and five percent of every guest bill goes back to the community. This has helped fund projects like Education for All, which establishes safe school residences so that rural girls can pursue secondary education.

The world has changed enormously in Nat Geo's long history of publication. What do you see your role as now and in the next decades?

National Geographic has been around for 131 years and, of course, a lot has changed over that time but our purpose remains the same- to help people better understand the world and their role in it. A joint venture between Disney and the nonprofit National Geographic Society, National Geographic Partners is uniquely positioned as a media enterprise with a strong sense of purpose. We reach millions of people around the world every month, and have a responsibility to use that unparalleled reach to educate, inspire, and enlighten. We will continue to use our impact-driven media assets- magazines, television, digital, social, books, maps, travel, etc. – to amplify the important work being done by our partners at the National Geographic Society and drive an agenda that makes a difference in the world.

79% of Americans want to travel more responsibly, says new poll 

Responsible Travel

4 out of 5 American travellers are keen to travel more responsibly, according to new research conducted by OnePoll on behalf of UK-based ethical tour company Exodus Travels. OnePoll surveyed 2,000 Americans who have been outside of North America and the Caribbean in the last three years, to explore their attitudes towards sustainable travel and sustainability in general.

Other findings include:

  • 91% believe that ethical travel is important
  • 78% consider themselves more ethically-conscious than 10 years ago
  • 74% are concerned where their money is spent when on holiday
  • 39% feel "travel guilt" over past holiday choices

    "Tour operators have incredible clout when it comes to influencing hotels, parks and attractions to be more ethically-conscious," commented Tom Harari, Exodus’ Senior Manager Responsible Tourism, Product & Commercial. "Because they consistently bring customers to their partners on the ground every year, they have the power and resources to encourage — and assist in — the development of more responsible practices, whether that’s using less plastic or hiring more women in management positions."

Lufthansa takes first steps towards non-fossil kerosene


The German airline Lufthansa has announced plans to invest in a near-zero carbon synthetic fuel as part of ongoing efforts to reduce its carbon impact. Under Lufthansa’s recently launched ‘Five in Five’ project, the company will ensure that 5% of the kerosene it uses at Hamburg airport is derived from synthetic (non-fossil fuel) sources within five years. 

Also known as electrofuel, synthetic kerosene is created through a process of using electrolysis to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, and then combining with CO2. Lufthansa will source the energy required to produce the kerosene by using currently unclaimed renewable electricity from a local windfarm.  

The Lufthansa initiative is one of the first in the world to adopt low-carbon electrofuels. Last October, a report published by the sustainable transport NGO Transport & Environment - Roadmap to decarbonising European aviation - found that converting all aviation fuel demand to non-fossil kerosene could radically reduce aviation’s emissions, but would cost 58% per ticket more than current prices, or 23% more compared with fossil kerosene being properly taxed. 

"Lufthansa’s move could be the beginning of a new direction for Europe’s airlines," said T&E’s aviation manager Andrew Murphy. "Zero emission fuels are key to addressing aviation’s runaway emissions and European governments need to help industrialise these processes to deliver economies of scale."

Airbnb partners with United Voice to support decent work for cleaners 


Airbnb has partnered with Australian trade union United Voice to promote socially responsible home cleaning services to its hosts in the country. This means that they will meet minimum labour standards, including a safe work environment, the protection of a collective agreement that provides for certification and training, and strong workplace protections.

The partnership is kicking off with a pilot programme with the Canberra-based social-enterprise Harmony Community Cleaning, which is a worker-owned cleaning company providing sustainable jobs for refugees and migrants. The initiative has been created by United Voice in collaboration with local representatives of the Australian Karen Foundation, which focuses on the empowerment of the Karen people (of Myanmar) living in refugee camps on the Thai Myanmar border and the resettled Karen community in Australia.

"To us, cleaning jobs have become the biggest part of our life in Australia," explained Jirayu ‘Jimmy’ Maneesirawong, a Karen community elder and member of the new cleaning company. "It is the main source of income that supports our day to day family needs and we love our cleaning role. Due to the devastating experience with our ex-employer, we as a community came together and discussed that we wanted to form a company that we could all come together and work in harmony. We have the aim to create a company that will treat all their workers fairly and can deliver the best cleaning experience to their customers."

Events Industry Council releases Sustainable Event Standards for public consultation 

Sustainable Events

Hotels looking to support a more sustainable event industry are encouraged to engage with the development of new sustainability standards for the sector. More than 100 of the event industry’s leading practitioners have contributed to developing new standards designed to increase sustainable practices across the events industry. The resulting new supplier standards for sustainable events have now been released by the Events Industry Council for a public commentary period ending on April 18, 2019. 

Current categories for comment include accommodations, audio visual and production, destinations, exhibitions, food and beverage and venues. A new event organiser standard is being developed and will also be released for input in the next two months.

Specific standards for accommodation providers include criteria such as whether establishments "Provide meat-free alternatives", "Eliminate all single-use plastic products from the venue" and "Provide employee wellness programmes".

Written and edited by Jeremy Smith

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