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The Tour Operators’ Initiative: tour operators in action for sustainable development

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The Tour Operators’ Initiative: tour operators in action for sustainable development. Tour Operators’ role. Direct the flow of tourists Influence the development of destinations Influence the supply chain Influence customers’ choices and behaviour. The business perspective.

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The Tour Operators’ Initiative:

tour operators in action for sustainable development


Tour Operators’ role

  • Direct the flow of tourists
  • Influence the development of destinations
  • Influence the supply chain
  • Influence customers’ choices and behaviour
the business perspective
The business perspective

Sustainability helps:

  • Retain and gain clients
  • Increase revenue
  • Reduce costs and improve operational efficiency
  • Manage risks
  • Enhance staff performance
  • Protect the core assets of the business (Environment and Culture)
  • Enhance brand value and reputation

Linking sustainability to a sound business

  • Actions to integrate environmental, social and economic principles can be taken in:
  • Internal Management
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Product Management and Development
  • Customer Relations
  • Co-operation with destinations
exodus development of a responsible tourism policy
Exodus: Development of a Responsible Tourism Policy
  • Formalised company commitment to environmental, social and economic sustainability
  • Key elements: Mission Statement and Code of Practice
  • Creation of a responsible tourism manager position
  • Responsible tourism seminars for Exodus’ staff
hotelplan e nvironmental reporting
Hotelplan: Environmental Reporting
  • Public report on environmental actions and results:
    • Based on GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines and Performance Indicators
    • Two main sections: management statements and actions areas
    • Information about company’s goals for the coming year
    • Key financial figures, glossary, TOI statement
aurinkomatkat suntours green contracting for hotels
Aurinkomatkat-Suntours: Green Contracting for Hotels
  • Hotel contracts with minimum environmental criteria
  • Classification system for company’s hotels and holiday apartments, based on:
    • performance on 35 sustainability measures (e.g. waste management)
    • 100-point scale
    • four level of hotel classification (minimum level - three star)
ltu touristik technical assistance to contracted hotels
LTU Touristik: Technical Assistance to Contracted Hotels
  • Development of the manual ‘The Environmentally Friendly Holiday Hotel’ in five languages
  • Addressed topics include drinking water, outside areas, energy, purchasing, waste and communication
  • 15,000 copies distributed in 2002
  • Distributed through LTU’s tour guides, sales agents and destination agencies
mytravel northern europe 50 steps towards a good environment
MyTravel Northern Europe: ‘50 Steps Towards a Good Environment’
  • 50 environmental actions hotels can adopt voluntarily
  • 11 categories are targeted (e.g. cleaning, F&B, purchasing)
  • Manual and poster to support the programme
  • Annual ‘MyTravel Environment Award’ for hotels receiving best results on customer questionnaires
orizzonti green checklist for hotels
Orizzonti: Green Checklist for Hotels
  • ‘Care for the Environment Programme’ (Attenzione per l’Ambiente):
  • Opening up a constructive dialogue on environmental issues through an an ‘Environmental Checklist’
  • Information collected highlighted in the catalogues
  • Customers’ feedback to monitor performance
discoveryinitiatives holiday programmes that support local development and conservation
DiscoveryInitiatives: Holiday Programmes that Support Local Development and Conservation
  • Holiday programmes developed by local organizations to protect local environment and culture
  • Donations generated through the holiday programme
  • Collaboration and partnerships with 37 NGOs since 1997
ventaglio environmental interpreter programme
Ventaglio: Environmental Interpreter Programme
  • Three objectives:
    • Raise consumers’ awareness
    • Integrate sustainability into resorts
    • Build partnerships with local communities
  • The Interpreter becomes the focal point on sustainability matters internally and externally
hotelplan an eco fund to support sustainability
Hotelplan: An Eco-Fund to Support Sustainability
  • Establishement of the ‘Umweltfranken’ (Eco-Fund) to support projects and activities that would :
    • Actively involve guests and stakeholders in destinations
    • Support integration of social aspects into Hotelplan’s activities
    • Support Hotelplan’s environmental commitment financially

Tour Operators’ Initiative

  • A network of committed tour operators
    • Over twenty tour operators members catering for more than 30 million tourists
    • Open only to tour operators of all sizes and specialities, in bound and out bound from all countries of the world
  • A partnership between three international organizations
    • UNEP, UNESCO and WTO/OMT work together to guide and provide assistance to the members
    • UNEP DTIE hosts the Secretariat of the TOI

Tour Operators’ Initiative

  • Accor Tours (France)
  • Atlas VoyagesMorocco)
  • Aurinkomatkat-Suntours (Finland)
  • DiscoveryInitiatives (UK)
  • Dynamic Tours (Morocco)
  • Exodus (UK)
  • First Choice (UK and Ireland)
  • FreeWay Adventures (Brazil)
  • G.A.P. Adventures (Canada)
  • Hotelplan (Switzerland)

Orizzonti (Italy)

Premier Tours (USA)

KEL 12 (Italy)

LTU-Touristik (Germany)

NSTravel (The Netherlands)

Settemari (Italy)

Studiosus (Germany)

Travel Walji’s PVT (Pakistan)

TUI Group (Germany)

VASCO Travel (Turkey)

Ventaglio (Italy)


Tour Operators’ Initiative

  • Launched by UNEP, UNESCO and WTO to:
  • Catalyse the actions of committed tour operators
  • Provide a neutral platform for dialogue among tour operators and between tour operators and other stakeholders
  • Provide guidance and motivation

The Objectives

  • Assist tour operators in implementing sustainable tourism through the adoption of best practices in their internal operations, in the supply chain and in the destination
  • Broaden the support to sustainable development of other players in the tourism sector, including tourists
  • Create the critical mass of committed tour operators

A Commitment to Sustainable Development

  • Members of the TOI have signed a Statement of Commitment that includes - among others - commitments to:
  • Adopt best practices with regards to environmental, social-cultural and economic impacts of their activities internally and when forming business relationships with partners, suppliers and sub-contractors.

A Commitment to Sustainable Development

  • Encourage and seek co-operation with all stakeholders at destinationsto develop an integrated planning and management of destinations.
  • Create awareness and active involvement in their customers towards the natural, social and cultural environments they visit by promoting, in their communication and advertising, behaviors and activities compatible with sustainable development’s principles.
  • Develop the principles in their corporate policy, establish measurable goals and report regularly.

Working with other organizations

  • Contribute in ‘ad hoc’ activities and working groups (WG on Sustainability Reporting, Poverty Alleviation information campaign, internal reports, Side meeting, etc) and Provide funding
  • Take an active role in shaping the TOI participating as advisor to planning phase and supporting financially activities
  • The Center for Environmental Leadership in Business at Conservation International and GTZ have actively contributed to the work of the TOI

TOI Results achieved

  • Building partnerships with destinations:
    • Establishment of a partnership with Side (Turkey) and organizations of workshops to improve the dialogue with stakeholders at destination (April 2002 and May 2003)
    • Sustainable Tourism Round Table in Punta Cana/Bayahibe (3-4 December 2003) that led to the development of an agenda and establishment of a Co-ordinating Body

TOI Results achieved

  • Supply Chain Management:
    • Assessment checklist to identify environmentally and socially responsible marine recreation providers and “Practical guide to good practice for marine recreation providers”
    • Handbook identifying actions and tools to integrate sustainability principles in supply chain management, including accommodation suppliers screening indicators

TOI Results achieved

  • “Practical Guide to good practice for the accommodation sector”, in co-operation with CI/CELB, with best practices for hotels 30.000 copies disseminated by members of the TOI to their contracted hotels
  • The guide has been now translated in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Turkish

TOI Results achieved

  • Sustainability Reporting:
    • The Tour Operator’s sector supplement to the GRI 2002 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines
    • User’s manual

TOI Results achieved

  • Workshop on integrating sustainable development into the tour operators’ businesses (Rimini 30 June - 1 July 2001)
  • Workshop on “Using networks of World Heritage Sites in tour design” (Jakarta, 11-13 September 2002)
  • Internal reports (coral reef and tourism; communication to customers; ecolabels as a supply chain tool)
  • Poverty alleviation information campaign
  • The TOI web site (

“Sustainable Tourism: the Tour operators’ Contribution”

  • 32 examples of good practice grouped by tour operator’s business areas
  • Examples highlight also benefits to tour operators’ business

For more information:

Giulia Carbone

United Nations Environment Programme