Ground-breaking study allows hotels to ensure positive impacts at destinations

The TIMM results of hotel and tourism impacts in Cyprus

The TIMM results of hotel and tourism impacts in Cyprus

A report out today demonstrates how hotels can work to ensure a net positive impact in tourism destinations as well as helping them to include social, cultural, environmental and economic impacts in decision-making for destinations in which they are seeking to develop.

The Travel Foundation, with PwC, has published the results of probably the most comprehensive destination impact assessment of tourism operations, examining the impact of 60,000 TUI Group customers who visited 8 hotels in Cyprus in 2013.

The study uses PwC's "Total Impact Measurement and Management" (TIMM) methodology to measure and place values on a wide range of economic, tax, environmental and social impacts. This includes the wider impacts from a hotel’s supply chain as well as customer and employee spend, which when combined almost always exceed the direct impact of the hotels themselves.

Hotels can use these or a different set of metrics when making decisions on where to locate hotels in order to ensure the maximum positive impact for a region and its communities.

The report – Measuring Tourism’s Impact, a pilot study in Cyprus – revealed the following key findings:

  • The positive economic and tax benefits are by far the greatest impact - amounting to €84 per guest per night - far exceeding the negative environmental (-€4) and social (-€0.2) costs. However, this is a one-year (2013) snapshot and does not take account of the construction of the hotels. In addition, many environmental and social impacts will accumulate over a longer timeframe.
  • Greenhouse gases (GHG) are the most significant environmental cost - although this represents less than 0.01% of total GHG emissions in Cyprus. GHG impact more than doubles if flights to/from Cyprus are included.
  • The most significant social benefit identified across all of the social impact areas is that associated with 'on the job' experience, with an upper estimate of €6.2 per guest night. This highlights the tourism sector’s significant role in developing skills in the Cypriot workforce, which is important in the context of the Cypriot economy where unemployment has increased in recent years, particularly among young people.
  • Work placements, where a placement is a condition of an individual’s degree, yielded the highest social impact per person (€8,800 per work placement student). However, its relatively small overall impact is primarily driven by the small number of Cypriot work placement students currently benefiting at each hotel.

The findings are particularly interesting for members of the International Tourism Partnership and others who are working hard to reduce their own carbon emissions and are using the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI) to measure the carbon footprint per guest stay, room or meeting, and are acting to minimise these. It underlines how important it is for hotels which are working to be more sustainable and want to have positive impacts for guests and their destinations to be continuing to set themselves tough targets on energy and carbon, waste, water and their supply chains.

In addition the findings clearly demonstrate the benefit to local communities of hotels taking part in the Youth Career Initiative programme which offers disadvantaged young people real world work experience, training and mentorship and has been shown to have positive impacts for wider families and communities. Adding a youth apprentice or skills programme like YCI to a hotel’s employment operation is now demonstrably of massive value not only to the individuals but also to the region’s long term economy and creates huge goodwill and employee loyalty to the hotel brand.

Releasing the report today, Salli Felton, Chief Executive of the Travel Foundation, said, "This pilot represents a major advance in understanding how tourism impacts on destinations and confirms that visitor numbers on their own can only tell half the story. A 'big picture' approach can best inform those who develop and manage tourism so that local communities, the environment and businesses thrive. It's clear from our research that broad public and private sector collaboration is essential, and every tourism organisation with a stake in a destination or a particular sustainability challenge will have something to contribute."

Malcolm Preston, Global Sustainability Leader at PwC, said, “We are delighted to have been able to support the Travel Foundation and the TUI Group in applying our Open Sourced TIMM framework to this project.  Whilst we have applied the framework to many different industry sectors, this is the first time we have applied it to the Travel and Tourism sector. The pilot study has proved two key things:  Firstly, what we all intuitively thought – that tourism can be a force for good in a destination; and secondly, and perhaps more importantly, an in-depth analytical tool like TIMM can help companies develop strategies to continually improve that impact year on year.”

TIMM metrics

TIMM metrics


For hotels the report’s timing and their ability to use the TIMM is extremely relevant. The report notes: “This study takes place at a time when the global context in which economic activity happens is changing: - Economic pressures are making steady, stable growth more difficult to achieve for companies, while new business models are evolving, such as the sharing economy (e.g. Airbnb); - Environmental and social consciousness among consumers is growing as they find it easier to access and share information, meaning purchasing decisions are increasingly influenced by wider consumer concerns rather than just price and quality; and - External stakeholders are gaining more influence over businesses and are demanding greater openness and improved quality of public reporting.

Together, these changes in the global business context are being reflected in new and evolving sustainability risks linked, for example, to climate change, economic development and the need for responsible tax management, climate change, resource scarcity and the need to support local communities and address poverty.”

And it points out: “Governments and businesses are starting to think about how they can look beyond increased short-term financial returns towards real, inclusive, responsible and lasting change for the benefit of consumers, employees, suppliers, shareholders and society alike. This change makes good sense for all parts of society, since business performs better in a society that is stable, healthy and prosperous.”

For more information on the scope of the TIMM and how it was applied in Cyprus, the report is free to access on the Travel Foundation's website.

Leave a Reply