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The ambitious 2020 strategy called Better Holidays, Better World is built around three core pillars to help shape the future of sustainable tourism and TUI, owners of Thomson and First Choice, have pledged to deliver 10 million ‘greener and fairer’ holidays per year.
In interview with Green Hotelier Jane Ashton, Director of Sustainability said, “With the creation of the new company in December, there’s been a lot of focus this year on sustainability; developing the strategy, engaging with internal stakeholders and negotiating the targets, it’s been a great exercise in collaboration and alignment on sustainability. I’m so excited that we’ve got this far and can now launch the strategic framework up to 2020. Now every part of the business can work together to achieve this.”
In the strategy TUI has pledged to cut the carbon intensity of its airline, cruise and ground operations by a further 10%, deliver 10 million ‘greener and fairer’ holidays per year and invest €10 million per year to enhance the positive impacts of tourism.
Ashton said, “We really want to excite people with the idea that holidays, if managed well, can be a real force for good, and there are things we can do differently to improve the positive impacts that we have, and reduce the negative impacts.
“Sustainability is often characterised by jargon and confusion so we wanted to have three very clear pillars: Step Lightly which is about reducing the environmental impact of our holidays; Make a Difference which is about creating positive change for people in destinations; and Leading the Way which is us working to pioneer sustainability across destinations working in collaboration with all sorts of stakeholders, looking outside of our own business to see how we can try to create systemic change in destinations.”
The ‘Better Holidays, Better World’ strategy builds on the strong sustainability legacy of TUI AG and TUI Travel PLC before their merger in late 2014.
“We’ve reduced our carbon intensity by 10% over the past six years and we want to reduce by a further 10% driven by our airline but also in our ground operations including our hotels,” said Ashton describing the group’s forward focus and targets.
“The work that we’ve been doing with The Travel Foundation has been immensely rewarding, particularly when you see long term change and that being embraced by authorities and incorporated into legislation. Lead the Way is about TUI starting to up the funding and numbers of initiatives and meaningful partnerships that we have across the world, and aligning the whole group behind those so that we start to work in a more co-ordinated way in destinations.”
Describing the target for Make a Difference, Ashton confirmed, “To grow the number of people we take on holiday to sustainably certified hotels to 10m per year. I hardly dare say that, it’s a massive, massive challenge. We work with thousands of accommodations and getting them to engage with a sustainability certification and reach award level is not a quick process. Getting them started and supporting them to award level will take a huge amount of energy. It’s a contractual minimum standard now that hotels have to agree to subscribe to one of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s recognised schemes.”
Ashton talked about the driving force behind the Group making these commitments, “It’s building on what’s already going on but scaling it up across the whole of the new group. But it’s critical for long term business success. It’s challenging, but everyone accepts it’s what we need to do. It’s critical to product quality and competitiveness, it’s critical to what customers expect of a trusted brand nowadays.
“What we’ve learned from our previous projects with people like The Travel Foundation has underpinned this strategy, because we’ve reaped so many rewards from them,” said Ashton. “Be it millions of pounds worth of cost savings, be it accolades and industry awards, investment, being listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, FTSE for Good Index, ranked first in the FTSE 100 Carbon Disclosure project and so on, employee engagement and motivation, suppliers reap rewards too.”
Describing the progress the Group has made so far, Ashton said, “In our flagship hotels over the last three years we saw a 10% energy reduction, we’ve made a 50% brochure reduction, 25% CO2 reduction across our retail estate and all these things build momentum for wanting to do more in the future.
“The cost savings are mostly driven by environmental efficiencies; water reduction, waste reduction, energy reduction, reduction of chemical use but particularly energy in all its forms. We’ve invested a lot in building management systems in the UK over the last three years and the retail estate has reduced its carbon emissions by something like 40%. That was largely through investment in things like more energy efficient air conditioning and behavioural trends with shop managers having a ten point plan on energy efficiency. We also rolled out the turtle dashboard which contributed to a 19% reduction in emissions over the last year of our plan which helped create behavioural change.”
An ‘energy dashboard’ was rolled out to all Thomson and First Choice shops, giving a simple, real-time indication of how each shop is performing against its energy targets; this helped reduce CO2 emissions by 24% over three years. When the behavioural change aspect – the ‘turtle tool’ - was introduced in the fourth year the Group achieved a 19% reduction in a single year. Retail shop managers were able to respond to regular updates, follow advice and encourage their teams to be proactive to save energy.
The three pillars of the new strategy cover TUI’s operations, the value chain, customers, and the wider industry and beyond. To make the targets a reality, TUI will collaborate with stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, educational and training establishments, governments and UN organisations to effect change at scale.
The three ‘Better Holidays, Better World’ ambitions are underpinned by nine commitments.
TUI aims to innovate, invest in youth, tourism skills and education, and collaborate with destinations to pioneer sustainable tourism across the world. TUI’s recent ground-breaking project with PwC and the Travel Foundation to measure the economic, tax, environmental and social impacts of tourism is an example of this work.
Fritz Joussen, CEO, TUI Group said, “Our Better Holidays, Better World strategy is the next, exciting, chapter in TUI’s sustainability journey. I am proud to work for an industry that can stimulate so much employment and wider economic activity - both in the developed and developing world - in regions where social and economic stability is increasingly important. I am also mindful that in parallel to these benefits, tourism’s operations contribute to the depletion of natural resources. Our interest undoubtedly lies in stimulating systemic change to more sustainable tourism practices and policies, and in leading by example.’’
Ashton pointed out, “We trialled something last summer where 84,000 people went on The Collection Excursions which have key elements and a big focus is supporting local communities and reducing environmental impacts. Local community interaction is quite a focus of those excursions and we’re rolling that out across all our volume destinations and then customers can really taste and experience that difference. Examples include the UNWTO award-winning Taste of Fethiye where guests can visit that cooperative and have a meal and sample the fresh produce. Customers really enjoy it and for some it makes their holiday.
“Where we still want to focus is incorporating these quality benefits back through communication to our customers. They expect a trusted brand like TUI to be taking these steps.”
Urging other operators to follow suit Ashton concluded, “We really believe that it’s critical to a future successful industry. Unspoilt destinations are critical to all of us and it’s everyone’s responsibility to do what we can to protect them. But we’ve also seen a lot of business benefits, so those alone should be enough to convince other operators to act.”
You can read more about Better Holidays, Better World here.
You can watch the launch animation here.