Thomas Cook has confirmed its participation in The Travel Foundation's sustainable tourism training programme Make Travel Greener.
The company joins rival retail chains TUI Travel and The Co-operative Travel group and independent agency consortium Advantage in adopting the programme, bringing The Travel Foundation campaign close to a clean sweep of UK outlets.
The sustainable tourism charity's aim of having 10,000 travel trade staff complete the training programme and questionnaire - which takes just half an hour to complete - appears within reach barely two weeks after its launch. ABTA has also signed up and will be encouraging members to take part.
The training aims to clarify the confusion about sustainability and responsible tourism and encourage staff to pass on their understanding to consumers. The Travel Foundation promises there is no jargon.
Thomas Cook group strategy director Angus Porter said: "It is important customer-facing employees feel comfortable talking about responsible tourism. Our guests are increasingly looking for holidays that have less negative impact on destinations."
Thomas Cook was among the companies involved in trials of the Make Travel Greener programme before its launch last month. The group introduced the training to overseas staff last summer.
A Thomas Cook spokeswoman said: "The quiz proved so popular it developed into a competition between destinations to see who could complete the most questions." It was such a success that the training was extended to homeworkers and to staff in the group's sales centres in Peterborough and Falkirk.
Thomas Cook is extending the programme to all retail staff this summer. At the same time, selected sales-centre staff will join a sustainable tourism fam trip to Cyprus in conjunction with the Travel Foundation and Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative. Participants will tour hotels that have won Travelife awards for reducing their environmental and social impact, and join a clean up of self-drive tour routes through rural Cyprus.
Thomas Cook hopes those taking part will become ambassadors for sustainable tourism and encourage colleagues to take the training and develop their understanding. Group human resources and learning and development supplier co-ordinator Charmaine McCulloch said: "Make Travel Greener is a fascinating introduction to the responsibility travel companies have to the environment. It captures the importance of local culture and values and raises awareness in people."
Porter added: "The Make Travel Greener campaign is ground breaking. With continual development, our staff will become experts on this vital aspect of travel."
Thomas Cook will be encouraging employees across all departments to take part, a move that will delight The Travel Foundation as it is keen to make the business case for sustainability. Travel Foundation chief executive Sue Hurdle said: "Anyone in travel can get involved. The questionnaire is simple and takes just a few minutes to complete."
The training covers issues including climate change, responsible travel, sustainability in destinations, and talking to customers.
The Travel Foundation is offering prizes to the first 200 industry members who score 95% or above in the quiz.
To take part, go to www.maketravelgreener.com, enter your name and email address and get started. You can break off at any time and return later.
- Have you taken the training? Why not post your score on the travelhub forums?
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