Special Report: Tui aims to clean up as leader in sustainability

Special Report: Tui aims to clean up as leader in sustainability

Tui has led the way in marrying mainstream holidays with more‑sustainable practices. Now sustainability director Jane Ashton has new targets in sight

Tui laid out its intention to lead the industry to a more sustainable future last autumn with the launch of a five‑year strategy entitled Better Holidays, Better World.

At its core were three pledges, or ‘pillars’, to be achieved by 2020: to cut carbon emissions by 10% on top of reductions already achieved; to deliver 10 million ‘greener, fairer holidays’ a year; and to invest €10 million a year in Tui Care Foundation projects in destinations.

Sustainable development director Jane Ashton has teams in place to ensure progress towards these targets. In the meantime, she is keen to stress other initiatives, saying: “Investing in the next generation is the real focus for Tui UK. We’re investing in the next generation of holidaymakers and of people at work.”

She points out this links to the findings of the Total Impact Measurement and Management (Timm) project the group carried out with the Travel Foundation and PwC in Cyprus in 2014 (Travel Weekly, August 13, 2015).

“The research showed tourism is often the biggest employer and biggest source of economic benefit in a destination,” she said.

‘Investing in the next generation’ aims to build on that finding and takes several forms. One is apprenticeships.

Next generation

Ashton said: “Tui has had a focus on apprenticeships since its Lunn Poly days. Tui UK has trained 2,500 since 2007 and 6,000 since 2000. A further 2,500 have been trained outside the apprentice scheme in retail, engineering, IT and other specialist skills.

“Half our retail management team are ex-apprentices and a phenomenal number of people now in senior management roles began as apprentices.”

Tui announced plans last week to train another 2,000 apprentices by 2020. Ashton said: “We lead the industry on this. People will be able to start at entry level or above, at a mix of starting ages.”

In addition, the group runs graduate programmes in most of its source markets and an international graduate leadership programme. Ashton said: “We had 28 on the international programme last year.”

Tui is also increasing investment in training in destinations, with the group’s Robinson Club resorts involved in hotel training schools in Agadir (Morocco), Pamfilya (Turkey) and (Kos) Greece.

“We want to develop our hotel schools,” said Ashton.

“The Agadir school is inspiring. It takes 100 pupils a year, 50 men and 50 women, 18 to 19-yearolds, and puts them through an intensive one-year programme working four to five days a week in the hotel. Half of those who complete the course stay with Robinson clubs, the others are fought over by other hotels. We’re looking to replicate that with local partners in other destinations.”

Back in the UK, Tui recently launched a sustainable tourism programme for schools entitled Better World Detectives, aimed at seven to 11-year-olds.

Ashton said: “We worked with teachers to develop this and it draws on social media, video, Skype and WhatsApp. The programme is set in Costa Rica and pupils have to discover, over six modules, why turtles are not returning to nest in a village. It was launched in April and downloaded by 800 teachers [before the summer holiday]. We’ll push it in the new school year. We want to get it into shops and get retail colleagues to go into schools and have it used in assemblies.”

Ashton added: “We’re also looking to involve schools in key destinations and investigate whether we can use the programme in customer-facing situations.”

Sustainability drive

She insists there is no let-up in the group’s commitment to making travel more sustainable, saying: “Sustainability certification is integrated into our purchasing strategy and distribution strategy.

“The focus on driving down emissions is integrated into the group’s core strategy. It’s reflected in the Tui Group vision. It’s demonstrably part and parcel of what Tui is about.

“It remains very important for investors that we’re performing and reporting on this.”

Ashton confesses she was excited by Tui’s announcement of a new aircraft order last month – when the group added an extra Boeing 787 and 10 short-haul, fuel-efficient Boeing 737 MAXs to the aircraft orders it announced in 2013. She said: “It indicates a commitment to driving carbonefficiency way into the future.”

She noted: “We also look to be brochure-free by 2020.”

Consumer challenge

Yet there is no let-up in new work. Ashton said: “We need to find ways to talk about greener and fairer hotels and cleaner technology without mentioning the S word.

The language is a challenge. You say ‘sustainable tourism’ and most people’s eyes glaze over. It’s jargon. ‘Better Holidays, Better World’ and our ‘three pillars’ are quite simple. We’re seeking ways to talk to customers about it.

“The ultimate win would be to get customers demanding sustainable holidays.” The Travelife hotel-certification scheme run by Abta is one key element of this. Ashton said: “Travelife is important because of its breadth. It drives continuous improvement. Hotels really embrace it once they get going and see the benefit. But we work with all the certification schemes recognised by the GlobalSustainable Tourism Council.”

A second element is Tui Collection Excursions, introduced last year in 41 destinations and offering tours “with a local flavour”. “These are shaped by local communities in destinations such as Morocco, Mexico and Jamaica,” said Ashton. Half a million Tui customers took one last year.

However, Ashton is already planning new projects and seeking new partners. She said: “The most exciting areas for me are developing partnerships with destinations and NGOs and working with the next generation.”


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