Tourism for Tomorrow Newsletter May 2019

World Travel & Tourism Council takes action against human trafficking

WTTC is establishing a global taskforce to help the travel industry prevent and combat human trafficking – including of children for sexual purposes. Tourism is both particularly vulnerable and well placed to address the issue, since human trafficking – which affects 30 million victims worldwide – relies on travel networks to operate. Human trafficking is worth $150bn annually, and contributes heavily to modern slavery, in which 40 million people worldwide are entrapped. One-quarter of trafficking victims worldwide are children. Meanwhile, 19% of victims are trafficked for sexual purposes, which makes up 66% of the illicit income generated.

The taskforce, comprising WTTC Members and sector associations, will become the first global industry-wide initiative to assert zero tolerance and share best practice. The founding members of the taskforce are Airbnb, Amex GBT, The Bicester Village Shopping Collection, International, CWT, Emirates, Expedia Group, Hilton, JTB Corp, Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority, Marriott International, Silversea, Thomas Cook and TUI. 

The taskforce has been established for the purposes of: 

  • PREVENTION: to increase industry and consumer awareness of human trafficking. 
  • PROTECTION: to train employees and travellers on how to identify and report suspected cases. 
  • ACTION:  to encourage governments to enact legislation which recognises human trafficking as a crime throughout the entire chain and develop resources and support needed such as national hotlines.
  • SUPPORT:  to provide assistance, employability training and employment opportunities to survivors. 

“Human trafficking is a devastating, widespread and critical issue that unfortunately relies on Travel & Tourism networks to operate,” said Gloria Guevara Manzo, WTTC’s CEO and President. “As a sector, we must do everything in our power to help eradicate the problem so that people may move freely and safely across the globe, but never coerced.”

Interview with Lemon Tree Hotels, Tourism for Tomorrow 2019 Winner

Holly Tuppen talks to Aradhana Lal, Vice President - Brands, Communications & Sustainability Initiatives at Lemon Tree Hotels Ltd., winner of the Tourism for Tomorrow Investing in People Award, about implementing inclusive employment. 

In India, less than three per cent of people with disabilities are employed. In the developed world, it’s 35 per cent. Meanwhile, hotels struggle to find a loyal workforce. This fast-growing hotel chain is bridging the gap by providing specialised training and employment to over 600 people with mental and physical disabilities.

HT: Tell us a little bit about the Lemon Tree Hotels journey. 
AL: Lemon Tree Hotels started its inclusion work 12 years ago. The motivation came from the top; our Chairman & Managing Director Patu Keswani has been the driving force. It started with just two deaf people, and the team learnt sign language to be able to communicate with them. Within two years there were more than 20 deaf people across five hotels. Staff engagement was better than ever, and we knew we could do more. 

To begin with, the inclusive employment was back of house but within a couple of years we brought it to front of house as well, and it became part of our business model and brand. Lemon Tree wants to make a difference through business, not charity. At the moment, 11-12% of our workforce is mentally or physically disabled, but we’re aiming for 20%. 

Challenges and barriers include expectations of work, transportation to and from work, and a shortfall in education. We’re now looking at how to overcome these challenges through a potential foundation (in the future), providing education and training to people with disabilities. 

HT: What’s the impact on individuals? 
AL: There are a few tangible things like often our specially abled employees spend their first pay cheque on a nice gift for their families, and they start contributing to the household income. There’s also something less tangible; a look in their eye and sense of well-being and confidence. The way they walk, and talk evolves. Family members tell us they’ve completely changed, interacting with people confidently and easily. 

A couple of examples of this include a young man with Down Syndrome who would never communicate with anyone and a young man with autism who needed attention from everybody everywhere he went. Since working at Lemon Tree, they’ve both wholly changed their ways and can now interact with people in a more balanced way. 

HT: What reactions do you get from travellers? 
AL: Guests never expect it and so they are often quite surprised. This is all part of the process — it tests people’s prejudices. Many keep quiet about it, some tell us how incredible the service has been, but no one ever complains or has a negative word to say. We manage situations very well. If after one-minute of trying to do something a team member is struggling, staff are trained to step in and help. 

HT: What three bits of advice would you give to others looking to employ people with disabilities? 
AL: Run a pilot first and monitor, review and learn from it. Focus on ability, not disability and make sure your job mapping exercise only ever gives people a role where their disability doesn’t hinder them. Training, training, training is the most critical aspect. Not only with those people with disabilities, but the whole team.  



Tourism Fiji values happiness over wealth in new place brand

The Pacific island state of Fiji has launched a new destination brand, ‘Rich in Happiness’. Developed by M&C Saatchi, the new positioning highlights the fact the country was voted the happiest in the world in the 2017 Gallup International Survey on Happiness, Hope and Economic Optimism.

In a bid to shift attention from the country’s perceived lack of economic wealth towards its people’s wellbeing, the campaign has launched the inaugural ‘Bulanaires List’ of notable Fijians (Bula is a Fijian greeting that means ‘life’) , with inclusion on the list meaning someone embodies one or more of the guiding principles of true happiness, such as being selfless, or giving back and supporting family and community.

“Bulanaires redefine the way we measure success,” explained Professor Lea Waters, Chair in Positive Psychology at the Centre for Positive Psychology, University of Melbourne, who consulted on the initiative. “A common measure of success is often portrayed through the annual ‘rich lists’ that showcase the increased number of billionaires each year. But perhaps instead we need to consider finding happiness and contentment as a measure for being rich.”

Leading African safari operators launch the Lionscape Coalition

In partnership with the Lion Recovery Fund (LRF), Africa ecotourism operators andBeyond, Conservation Travel Foundation by Ultimate Safaris, Singita and Wilderness Safaris have launched the Lionscape Coalition — a tourism initiative to protect the continent’s lions through raising funds for lion conservation and empowering the travel industry to play an even bigger role in conservation. 

Africa’s lion population has been cut by 50 percent in the past 25 years, and the species is now officially classified by the IUCN as ‘Vulnerable,’ with the West African subspecies ‘Critically Endangered.” Factors contributing to this decline include habitat loss and fragmentation, illegal wildlife trade, bushmeat poaching and human-lion conflict. As apex predators, lions are regarded by scientists as an “umbrella” species; if a lion population is thriving, it means the entire ecosystem around it is functioning effectively. “Conserving wild lions is therefore synonymous with conserving African wilderness”, said Paul Thomson from the Wildlife Conservation Network, which manages the LRF. “With a unique ability to inspire and inform travelers about the threats faced by these magnificent cats – and the habitat they need to survive – Africa’s ecotourism industry can play a pivotal role in bringing them back, which is why we are thrilled to launch this exciting new partnership.”

Each member of the Lionscape Coalition has committed an annual investment into the LRF, with 50 percent sent to projects in countries where the member operates, while the other 50 percent is utilized at the consideration of the LRF, whose stated vision is to see wild lion numbers doubled by 2050. By engaging guests before, during and after their safaris about the threats and opportunities for lion conservation, Lionscape Coalition members will aim to generate additional funding in support of the LRF’s goals, with 100 percent of all donations received channeled directly to projects on the ground.

You can donate to the Lion Recovery Fund here

ISO launches new International Standard for accommodation providers

ISO, the international organization for standardization, has launched ISO 21401, Tourism and related services – Sustainability management system for accommodation establishments – Requirements. ISO 21401 is its first standard specifically for tourism accommodation, is aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, and specifies the environmental, social and economic requirements for implementing a sustainability management system in tourist accommodation. It addresses issues such as human rights, health and safety for employees and guests, environmental protection, water and energy consumption, waste generation and the development of the local economy. 

“The fact that there are many schemes for sustainable accommodation from different countries and organizations can make it difficult for such facilities to know what is useful and reliable and how to meet their requirements,” explained Manuel Otero, Chair of the ISO technical committee that created the standard. “This internationally agreed standard provides clarity in a confusing market, applies to all types of accommodation and can serve as a tool to improve sustainable management. It will also help to stimulate the market for more sustainability in both the accommodation sector and the tourism industry as a whole.”

You can watch a video about the new standard here.

‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ is theme for Make Holidays Greener 2019 campaign

The theme for this year’s Make Holidays Greener (MHG), the annual summer campaign led by ABTA in partnership with Travelife for Accommodation, is ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’. Following on from last year’s ‘Say no to plastic’ theme, this year the campaign expands to focus on all waste, while also reflecting an increase in traveller awareness of sustainability issues. According to ABTA’s latest research, over a third (36%) of people would now choose one travel provider over another if they had a better environmental/sustainable record, compared to a fifth in 2011.

This year’s campaign will launch on 5 June, World Environment Day, and will run until the end of September. ABTA and Travelife for Accommodation will be supporting the industry in the lead up to the launch and throughout the campaign, offering advice and guidance. A campaign support pack has been developed and shared with travel agents, tour operators, destinations and accommodations to help them participate in the campaign. It includes how to engage customers, suggested social media activity and example case studies for inspiration. 
“Whilst plastics has been high on the agenda, and will continue to be, it’s important both the industry and consumers look at waste from a broader perspective to make a positive change in the long term – which ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ aims to highlight,” explained Nikki White, ABTA Director of Destinations and Sustainability. “Make Holidays Greener offers an opportunity for travel companies to try out new approaches using the waste framework of ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’. By testing out new initiatives and sharing best practice of what has worked, businesses can work towards achieving ‘the circular economy’ - where resources would be in use for as long as possible and we minimise waste or pollution.”



New report seeks to uncover and address the 'Invisible Burden' of Tourism

A new report, “Destinations at Risk: The Invisible Burden of Tourism", argues that the tourism industry is not paying enough to support the vital destination assets on which it relies. The report says that across the world the tourism industry’s failure to pay for the impacts it has on the environment and infrastructure means either residents are left to pay these costs, or they are not paid at all, exacerbating environmental crises, ruining the tourism assets themselves, and causing growing anger among local residents.
Published by the Travel Foundation, Cornell University’s Centre for Sustainable Global Enterprise and EplerWood International, the report says that destination managers, businesses and experts must collaborate using science-based, data-driven analysis to create new local accounting systems that capture the full range of tourism costs. “The earth’s greatest treasures are cracking under the weight of the soaring tourism economy,” said principal report author, Megan Epler Wood. “New data-driven systems to identify the cost of managing tourism’s most valued assets are required to stem a growing crisis in global tourism management.”

You can download the report here.

New Accessible Travel Database Announced by German National Tourist Board

The German National Tourist Board has launched a new and comprehensive online database for accessible travel, the first of its kind to include a national labelling and “Accessibility Checked” identification seal.

Funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the Travel for All database allows users to search for a wide range of accessible holiday facilities throughout Germany including accommodation, restaurants, activities, shopping centres and essential services such as accessible transport and local tourism offices. It includes an online map, showing the location and linking directly to each supplier and the relevant certification.

“Barrier Free tourism services are indispensable for about ten percent of visitors to Germany,” explained Petra Hedorfer, Chief Executive Officer of German National Tourist Board’s board of directors. “We are launching our new database with over 1,500 fully certified Barrier Free service providers currently included and this information will be expanded on an ongoing basis”. 

Written and edited by Jeremy Smith