Special Report: Tui puts research into action to promote green tourism

Special Report: Tui puts research into action to promote green tourism

Tui makes no secret of its aim to lead the industry on sustainability. Jane Ashton, director of sustainable development, explains the group's latest moves to Ian Taylor.

It’s no exaggeration to say Tui has put its money where its mouth is on sustainability. The group recently completed a three-year plan to “deliver 10 million greener and fairer holidays” and is poised to unveil a new set of goals and commitments in September.

In July, it joined PwC and industry charity the Travel Foundation in publishing groundbreaking research into tourism’s impact in a destination, based on a study of eight hotels in Cyprus using

PwC’s Total Impact Measurement and Management (Timm) tool. The findings suggest tourism’s positive impacts on the economy, government revenue, jobs and training far outweigh any negative effects (Travel Weekly, July 9).

Jane Ashton, Tui’s director for sustainable development, was delighted by the study’s outcome, but sees it as a beginning, not an end in itself. She said: “I’m keen the study doesn’t remain an interesting, one-off piece of research that sits on a shelf. We’re working on ways to explore further.”

Ashton conceded this could take a little time, saying: “It was an intensive piece of work and the report was only recently completed.”

But she said: “We’re looking at hotels where we have long-term agreements or where we own and manage properties, and looking at areas identified by Timm as having the greatest economic benefits – local employment, training, workplace experience, local sourcing [of supplies].

“We’re working on these areas with hotels and already have good examples. We’ll look to see how we might replicate and scale them up.”

She said: “One of the learnings was that we are dependent on infrastructure in a destination.” There can be issues with waste management, for example, even in a mature destination such as Cyprus. We’ll work with a new destination to ensure waste is managed and monitored.”

Work in progress

Tui is active in a number of destinations alongside the Travel Foundation – in Cyprus, Croatia, Jamaica, Mexico, Turkey and Cape Verde – and plans to integrate findings from the Timm study into its work.

Ashton said: “We’ll use Timm as a foundation. It’s a work in progress, but we are keen the learnings be used within our operations and in collaborative projects, and that they be showcased more generally. PwC recently showcased the project in Cyprus to the World Bank.”

The study was presented to an industry audience at a Travel Weekly event last month.

Ashton added: “I’m hoping it might inspire destinations to carry out similar projects. Destination governments might be interested to look at different types of tourism to see what drives economic benefit. But there are also strands we want to explore. Cyprus as a destination purchases about 70% of its goods and services locally. Our hotels purchase about 30%-35% locally. We want to understand why that might be. I’m sure it is not isolated to Cyprus.

“We plan to go back to Cyprus to work with the stakeholders involved to consider the learnings and what steps to take next.”

Other programmes

Ashton argues the Timm project is not the only “groundbreaking” initiative Tui has taken in the past year or so. A largely unheralded energy-saving programme in the group’s UK shops has produced “substantial results” based chiefly on changes in employee behaviour.

Ashton explained: “We have about 5,000 employees in retail and about 600 shops [in the UK]. So we’ve been working on technology and behaviour change regarding energy use, and realised some significant reductions.”

First, the group invested “large amounts of money” – Ashton declined to give a figure – in installing:

  • Voltage optimisers in larger shops. These reduce the voltage received from the mains to match the energy requirements of electrical equipment
  • More energy-efficient air‑conditioning systems
  • Automated building manage-ment systems in 95% of shops
  • Energy-efficient lighting.

The investment forms part of a rolling programme of shop refurbishment. The second initiative, “working with colleagues to bring the energy-saving initiative to life”, has cost less but produced “fantastic results in the past year”.

Ashton said: “We achieved a 24% energy reduction across the retail estate in the past three years and a 19% reduction in the past 12 months since introducing a ‘Turtle Management Dashboard’ [in shops].

“It’s a simple, traffic light system – red, amber, green – for shops to see how they perform against targets and colleagues. Staff can see where the energy spikes are, if lights are left on or doors left open.” This came with a simple list of energy-saving tips (see box).

Ashton said: “There has to be a collaborative effort – active engagement by colleagues and investment in equipment.” She added: “There has been no noticeable impact on the shops.”

Thinking big

The group is already looking ahead, with Ashton’s gaze directed at the UN Sustainable Development Goals to be adopted at a summit in New York in September.

Ashton is excited because these will, in her words, “embed tourism in UN sustainable development”.

She said: “There are 17 goals for the world up to 2030 and tourism is referred to explicitly in regard to creating jobs, alleviating poverty, promoting local products, and more sustainable use of oceans and marine resources. You will see some large-scale projects that we hope to be involved with.”

Tourism warranted no mention in the UN Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000. Why the change in attitude to the sector among UN member states?“I hope it’s recognition of the fact that, if managed well, tourism can be a driver of decent jobs and economic benefits,” said Ashton.

Technology: Tui backs Boeing trials

Tui has partnered Boeing this year to test new technologies on a Boeing 757 ‘ecoDemonstrator’. Ashton said: “We aim to accelerate testing on new technology to reduce noise and carbon emissions.”

Trials include tests on aircraft wing coatings to reduce drag from insect debris. Insects can splatter wings at up to 3,000 feet, disrupting airflow and increasing fuel consumption. Tui is also involved in tests on new aircraft tail design and use of ‘green diesel’ aviation fuel produced from used cooking oil, inedible corn oil and waste animal fat.

Community: Rastafari village excursions

Tui is to offer excursions to the Rastafari Indigenous Village on the Montego River in Jamaica in partnership with the Travel Foundation.

A choice of tours offers insights into Rastafarian history, culture and music in a working community.

Ashton: “The project progressed brilliantly in the past year. The Jamaican government is focused on optimising tourism’s economic impacts and we want to spread tourism income to local communities.”

Tui energy-saving tips for shops

  • Remember the ‘closed door policy’. This reduces energy use by up to 50%
  • Fill your kettle only with what you need to make a drink
  • Set the shop temperature right. The ideal is 21-22C. One degree can make an 8% difference to the heating bill
  • Keep on top of maintenance. Does the door close properly? Are there air-conditioning issues?
  • Ensure fridge seals are clean and doors close properly. Fridge temperatures should be between 2-4C. Do not overstock fridges
  • Turn off equipment when not required, eg fans, heaters, mobile phone chargers
  • Turn off lights upon leaving a room

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