This is the year that responsible tourism has gone mainstream, says Nick Longman, managing director of Tui UK and Ireland
I believe we will look back at 2017 and reflect that this was the year that sustainable tourism entered the mainstream.
In the past year more than 6.3 million Tui customers around the world enjoyed greener and fairer holidays in 1,170 of our hotels which have achieved Travelife or Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) sustainability certification.
We know 846,000 customers also enjoyed Tui Collection excursions, which have sustainability at their heart – showcasing activities that are local, responsible and unique. This is a step change: in 2014, only 84,000 customers took a Tui Collection excursion.
The numbers reflect how we shape the customer experience to ensure it is a more sustainable one.
We know from customers that sustainability can be one of the deciding factors when they are choosing a holiday and they expect more information and greater choice when it comes to booking.
Strong input from stakeholders has made sustainability a central business agenda, but no voice is more compelling to a business than the customer.
Sustainability criteria are a core component throughout the customer journey with us, whether it is the aircraft we purchase, our hotels or the food we serve in our hotels and resorts.
As we move from being Thomson to Tui, we have the opportunity not only to continue on this track but also to scale up responsible tourism at a destination level through our support of the Tui Care Foundation.
The independent charitable arm of the Tui Group, the Tui Care Foundation looks to find innovative and transformational ways to promote education and opportunities for young people, to protect the natural world and to support destination communities to thrive.
We feel well placed to work with holidaymakers, employees and other stakeholders to bring positive change to tourist destinations as this not only helps local communities prosper but creates more memorable holiday experiences for our customers.
More broadly, Tui UK & Ireland has adjusted and embraced a new age of disclosure and transparency.
We recognise that the way in which the travel sector operates is changing and pressure must be brought to make sure the whole sector moves in a similarly progressive direction.
We welcome the drive by organisations such as Abta in the UK and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) worldwide to bring change, and recognise our own role in continuing to drive from the front.
The United Nations has designated 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, providing an opportunity for the tourism sector to take stock, celebrate its successes to date and then push forward in the knowledge that sustainability is now a mainstream customer expectation.
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