Tourism for Tomorrow Newsletter July 2019

IHG Hotels uses AI to reduce food waste


InterContinental Hotels Group has partnered with technology company Winnow to help its hotels automatically track, measure and reduce food waste. Thanks to Winnow’s Vision AI enabled technology, which combines an intelligent camera, smart scales and AI-based smart meter technology, the hotel chain hopes to achieve a 30% reduction in food waste.

Winnow Vision analyses ingredients during food preparation, as well as plates returned to the kitchen, to assess which food items are most wasted and in what quantities. This builds up a bank of data which in turn informs buying decisions, shapes menus and enables the refining of food preparation techniques.

IHG has installed the technology in seven of its hotels across Europe, Middle East and Asia & and plans to roll it out to a further 30 properties in the coming months. “Food waste is a global issue, and one that kitchens around the world are struggling with,” said Marc Zornes, Founder and CEO, Winnow. “Without visibility into what is being wasted, kitchens are wasting far more food than they think.  It is a privilege to work with such a forward-thinking hospitality chain as IHG and help them become the first global hotel brand to significantly reduce food waste globally by using Artificial Intelligence whi-le improving their responsible processes in their food and beverages offer.”

Interview with Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, Tourism for Tomorrow 2019 Winner


Holly Tuppen talks to Ewald Biemans, owner of Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort and winner of this year’s Tourism for Tomorrow Climate Action Award, about how sustainability has shaped Aruba’s most successful hotel.

Since opening in 1987, Bucuti & Tara has been one of the Caribbean’s greenest hotels. The resort holds more eco-certifications than any other hotel in the region, and it uses them as a benchmark for best practice, guidelines and staff motivation. It also operates on a 95% occupancy rate year-round.

HT: What motivated you to kick start Bucuti & Tara’s sustainable journey?
EB: It was a love for nature and self-preservation. I have grandkids, and I worry about the world they will grow up in. As an island, Aruba is under threat from climate change more than other places — the ocean could be knocking on our doors in 20-years’ time. 

I like to think that we’re in the nature business, not the tourism business. If we don’t do something, there will be no tourists left — they’ll be nothing to show them.

HT: What’s been your most significant achievement in the last 30 years?
: Becoming 100% carbon neutral was momentous for us. We’re not a small eco-lodge, but a 104-room resort and so it wasn’t a simple process. We had to retrofit green technology and attack every single way in which we could reduce energy use. We use solar and wind energy, and even supply solar energy back to the grid.

We have an ambitious goal to be running 100% on renewable energy by 2020, and we’re heading in that direction, which is an exciting new milestone.

HT: Why have you collected so many awards and certifications when many wouldn’t bother if they already had over 90% occupancy?
: A formal recognition of achievements is important to us. Some people dismiss certifications and awards, but this is the best way to bring our employees on the journey. They are so proud of what they’re part of, especially when they can hold up an award to celebrate. I also think it helps to pull up the whole industry and sets a standard regionally. 

HT: Do your guests care about your sustainability creds?
: If you take a look at our TripAdvisor reviews, every fifth or sixth review mentions our environmental policy. Guests love this resort because it’s on one of Aruba’s most beautiful beaches and we deliver exceptional service, but this is all part of our sustainable policy. Without our commitment to the environment, the beach wouldn’t be as beautiful, and the staff wouldn’t be as engaged.

HT: What three bits of advice would you give to others looking to get serious about sustainability? 
EB: You have to lead from the top. My wakeup call came from Rio 1993, which coincided with an influx of workers in Aruba that didn’t care for the environment. Don’t be afraid of pushback from guests; if you’ve got a good explanation behind changes, any reasonable person will understand. For example, we set our air-conditioning to 23⁰C, which is perfectly comfortable, but it needs to be explained to guests. You can’t please all people all the time. Share best practices; there’s no point reinventing the wheel so look for the best examples out there and reach out for help. 

GSTC calls on stakeholders to contribute to revision of Destination Criteria


The Global Sustainable Tourism Council is seeking further participation from stakeholders as part of its ongoing revision of the GSTC Destination Criteria (GSTC-D). Earlier this year the organisation held a public consultation asking for comments on the existing criteria and recommendations for improvements and additions. Based on that first consultation, GSTC has proposed revised GSTC-D criteria, accessible here.

It is now holding a second-round consultation and inviting comments on the above revised criteria. Anyone wishing to participate can do so by completing this online survey. GSTC advises consultees to look through the proposed revised criteria in their entirety before responding to the survey. In addition, two further background documents may provide useful insights: the 'GSTC-D resolution of first round consultation comments'; and a report to GSTC’s International Standards Working Group (ISWG), which provides the overall findings from the first-round consultation and an initial draft revised set of criteria. The deadline is August 15th, 2019.  

Travel and climate change conference to highlight industry responses


The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) is hosting a one day Climate Action Leadership Studio on September 20, 2019, in Gothenburg, Sweden. Taking place the day after its annual summit concludes, the event is billed as helping “Future Proof Your Destination and Business with Practical Climate Action Strategies and Tools.” It will feature range of expert speakers, who will explore issues and practical strategies that the tourism industry can implement, ranging from climate finance to effective offsetting and the latest developments in carbon removal technologies. Registration is now open for the one-day event here.

Responsible Travel launches global ‘Overtourism’ map


UK-based tour company Responsible Travel has published on online global map of 98 destinations reporting overtourism. Drawn from research conducted by the company into online mentions of overtourism around the world, the map reveals the phenomenon to be spreading across 63 countries and continuing to grow.

The map makes clear that the issue is not limited to bucketlist destinations such as Venice and Barcelona, with relatively little known places as diverse as the German island of Juist and the Mexican town of Real de Catorce being reported as suffering from overcrowding as a result of too many tourists.

Ctrip and UNDP launch ‘Travel for Good Alliance’ to tackle air pollution 

Travel for good alliance

Ctrip, the largest online travel agency in Asia, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the ‘Travel for Good Alliance’ on June 5th, World Environment Day. The Travel for Good Alliance looks to unite partners in the travel industry to explore sustainable tourism benefiting society, culture and the environment. Unlike most traditional trade associations, the formation of the alliance aims to connect individuals and enterprises to share useful travel experiences and practical tools, with its also be open to the public. Currently, 21 leading travel companies have joined, including Air China, Sichuan Airlines, JAL, Thai Airways, Accor Group and Rezen Group, together with environmental organisations such as The Nature Conservancy and WWF.

The partnership has announced an initial “Travel More, Impact Less” initiative, through which UNDP hopes to inspire travelers and companies to support tourism experiences that offer innovative solutions to a range of environmental challenges. A total of 5.54 billion domestic trips were made by Chinese travellers in 2018, up 10.8% from the previous year. They also made nearly 150 million outbound trips in 2018, a 14.7% increase on 2017.

Written and edited by Jeremy Smith