Tui Travel has made four key pledges it aims to achieve by 2014 to make its hotels operate in a more sustainable way including providing 10 million more greener holidays.
Garry Wilson, product and purchasing director Tui UK and Nordics, set out the targets at yesterday’s Taking Responsibility for Tourism conference in London.
He said the key to getting suppliers to operate in a more responsible manner was to show them how it makes commercial sense to operate more efficiently.
Among the four pledges was a promise to reduce energy usage in hotels, 50% of its differentiated hotels to achieve international management standards and all to attain the Abta TraveLife status.
With 2,000 hotels in the Tui programme certified as sustainable the operator will deliver 10 million greener holidays by 2014, Wilson added.
He held up the operator’s Sensatori resort in Crete as a shining example of what can be achieved by working in collaboration with hoteliers.
“It really is a flagship for how we should be doing things in the future. The important message we gave to the hotel was they could save €500,000 a year through better management of their energy and water.
“Because of that there were softer things they would adopt. Where we can demonstrate commitment to sustainability the consumer will come back.”
Thomas Cook director of government and external affairs Andy Cooper told the conference that operators, destinations and hotels were working in increasingly imaginative ways to make their product more sustainable.
“There is a debate about all-inclusive, about whether it’s beneficial but we are beginning to see changes in behaviour in some hotels.
“Customers are buying all-inclusive because they want the benefit of pre-determined pricing, that’s probably cyclical, but you are starting to see local restaurants offering passport schemes so guests can use restaurants in the local community.
“One of the things we all find with all-inclusive is that actually consumers do not want to spend 14 days doing the same thing, seeing the same things.”
Cooper said local and national governments had a big role to play in making sure that their destinations are operating as responsibly as possible.
He said for beach product this has been relatively easy because that tends to be located on land of low value to local populations but that tourism trends have seen growth on land that is less marginal.
Governments needed to find a balance on this, as they do between seeing the tourist as a ‘cash cow’ to generate income and providing a welcoming experience.
Cooper and Wilson hit out at the UK aviation tax APD after it was suggested it was a “necessary evil” to combat CO2 emissions.
Both said that, in fact the tax was just a revenue earner for the Treasury and had nothing to do with saving the environment.
“Aviation recognises it should be paying for its proper environmental costs but I would argue APD is recovering more than the environmental cost of flying.
“The big issue is what the government is doing with that money. It’s not being put back into the environment in any way at all. If you are going to use taxation as a tool then use it correctly and not just as a means of raising revenue.”
Wilson added: “I’s just a crude measure to grab money. It’s interesting in that it’s actually discriminating against certain destinations that actually need development and tourism.”
Cooper said due to the ongoing financial crisis, it currently suits the government politically to position APD as a revenue raising tax.
“If next week it politically suits them to say it’s an environmental measure I’m sure they will,” he added.
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