Month: June 2014

Holiday Advisor experience in Cyprus resorts

Isabel on duty in the office

Isabel on duty in the office

Destinations Programme Officer Isabel Kearney and Industry Programmes Officer Jasmine Stevens Wong recently spent a week in Cyprus with TUI UK & Ireland experiencing the work of a Holiday Advisor first hand. Isabel reports back from the trip…

We arrived at Paphos airport with our Thomson and First Choice staff t-shirts carefully packed in our suitcases, having done the online Holiday Advisor training and full of trepidation about what the week would hold for us.

The itinerary that TUI put together for us was packed and we were able to visit a number of different TUI products, ranging from Gold hotels, which are traditionally for over 60s, to Holiday Villages aimed at families, and hotels just for couples. We enjoyed entertainment including Thomson’s lottery, First Choice’s Widget puppets, resident singing duos and a comedian.

Jasmine prepares for a welcome meeting

Jasmine prepares for a welcome meeting

We met very dedicated Holiday Advisors, who worked hard to meet their customer service and sales targets, and ensure their customers had a great holiday – whether it was recommending the best excursion for a couple with difficulties walking, or taking part in aqua aerobics by the pool. We did our best to help with customer enquiries, booked hire cars, took part in poolside PR and assisted with the welcome and departure meetings.

As part of the week, we had the opportunity to spend three nights in Ayia Napa with the 2wentys Holiday Advisors and saw the difference between a 2wentys welcome meeting and one for couples, as well as going on a guided bar crawl ending in a UV paint party.

You may be wondering what going to UV paint parties with 18 year olds in Ayia Napa has to do with our roles within the Travel Foundation…

The whole experience has given us a deeper understanding of mainstream tourism and the challenges Holiday Advisors and Reps face in resort, so that we can design sustainable tourism projects that are more achievable and will have a greater impact in destinations.

Seeing for ourselves the challenges and opportunities for promoting sustainability in destinations will guide us in developing focused industry training. We’d like to pass on our thanks to TUI UK & Ireland for creating this trip, which was a first for the Travel Foundation.

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Travelife supports Make Holidays Greener 2014

Beach clean at SUNRISE Select Royal Makadi Resort, Egypt

Beach clean at SUNRISE Select Royal Makadi Resort, Egypt

Emma Lewis, Senior Relationships Executive at Travelife, explains why Travelife is supporting Make Holidays Greener 2014.

Travelife – the international sustainability certification scheme for hotels and accommodations – has promoted the Make Holidays Greener Big Holiday Beach Clean to all its 1,300 members worldwide, encouraging them to get involved. The majority of beach cleans on the campaign’s world map are Travelife hotel members. These include:

  • SUNRISE Select Royal Makadi Resort, Hurghada, Egypt
  • Spring Arona Gran Hotel, Tenerife, Spain
  • Coral Sea Resort, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
  • Corfu Imperial Grecotel, Corfu, Greece
  • SENTIDO Golden Star, Golden Sands Black Sea Coast, Bulgaria
  • Three Corners Ocean View, Hurghada, Egypt
  • Playitas Hotel, Fuerteventura, Spain

Travelife – which helps hotels and accommodations around the world reduce their environmental impact and support local people, local culture and the local economy – is a natural partner of the Make Holidays Greener campaign.

“The beach cleans are a great way to get staff, guests and local people involved in positive action in the holiday destination,” says Nikki White, Head of Destinations and Sustainability, Travelife. “Like the combined impact of Travelife hotels around the world, the beach cleans show that by people working together lots of simple, practical actions all add up to make a big difference.”

The SUNRISE Select Royal Makadi Resort in Egypt has experience of successfully organising beach clean-ups with staff and guests. Its last beach clean-up involved 32 customers and 23 staff, who together collected 19 kilos of waste which was then sent for recycling. Their story was then featured as a case study in the Travelife newsletter and website to help inspire other Travelife members.

To find out more about Travelife certified hotels around the world visit the Travelife Collection website: www.travelifecollection.com

Serra Negra beach clean in Cape Verde for World Oceans Day

Serra Negra beach clean, Sal, Cape Verde

To celebrate World Oceans Day and Make Holidays Greener Month, the Travel Foundation worked with the Sal-based NGO SOS Tartarugas to organise a beach clean in Serra Negra, Cape Verde.

25 participants collected approximately 700kg of rubbish over 3.5 hours, including fishing nets, plastic boxes, wood and glass – enough to fill three pick-up trucks.

Members of the Sal Destination Council kindly supported the beach clean:

  • APP (water and electricity company) donated 100 rubbish bags
  • Hotel Oasis Salinas Sea donated 25 litres of drinking water and rubbish bags
  • RIU Hotel donated 30 bottles of juice, rubbish bags and cups
  • Guiantur, the Association of Tourist Guides, gave use of their pick-up truck
  • City Hall of Sal donated rubbish bags

The event was also supported by the Protected Areas Project, which provided a pick-up truck and driver, and School Kim Barbosa, which provided catering equipment. A traditional Cape Verdean hearty stew called cachupa was made by a lady called Felipa for the beach clean team.

Serra Negra beach clean, Sal, Cape Verde - Cachupa time

The Travel Foundation’s National Programme Manager for Cape Verde, Débora Abu-Raya said, “Despite the amount of rubbish we collected from Serra Negra, we still have a long way to go before the beach is clear of plastic. As our Better Beaches project progresses, we’re hoping to encourage more local residents and visitors to come to beach cleans and take better care of the beach environment. I’m sure we will get there!”

By Isabel Kearney, Destinations Programme Officer

Melipona beekeepers deliver first order of honey products to hotel

Much Kaab Cooperative packing honey products for hotel

The Travel Foundation’s Melipona bee project in Mexico started to pay dividends recently, as the Much Kaab female beekeeping cooperative despatched their first order of honey products to a hotel.

The Grand Park Royal Cancun Caribe received its first delivery of toiletries containing the honey – which is supposed to have special healing powers – on time and on spec. Guests in the VIP section of the hotel will be offered a soap “cheeseboard” on arrival, with a choice of different soaps.

The order for more than 1,000 items – including shampoo, shower gel and soap ­­– earned over £2,400 for the beekeepers. Keen to work with local suppliers, the hotel agreed to special terms and conditions of payment that benefit small business such as the Much Kaab cooperative.

Much Kaab Cooperative making soap

Araceli, president of the cooperative, said, “I want to show society that we can reach success, we can reach our goals and rise against all odds. As a group mainly of women we are doing something to banish discrimination against women.”

The group’s administration manager, Mirna, who is expecting her fourth child, said, “I’m using this money to buy the first clothes and diapers for my soon-to-be-born baby.”

Another member of the group, Erlinda, added, “I’m willing to save money to take my boy to rehab and buy medications, as he is a boy with special needs. I know of other children who have received this care and they have a better quality of life… my kid deserves that as well.”

Maya communities in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula have been keeping stingless Melipona bees for centuries. Sadly, numbers of these special bees are declining rapidly and the bees are threatened with extinction. It is estimated that there has been a 93% decrease in hives in the last 25 years.

As part of a project set up with funding from Thomas Cook and Co-operative Travel, the Travel Foundation planted 450 fruit trees to boost the bees’ natural habitat, and provided extra bee boxes and training. Now we’re helping the beekeepers to make a living by selling honey products to hotels. The products are branded “Much Kaab”, meaning united or working bees.

May Travel Lottery winner scoops £1,000

Mark & SheenaMay’s Travel Lottery winner recently returned from holiday to discover that he’d won £1,000.

Mark Harrison from Norwich bought his winning ticket while booking his airport parking with Holiday Extras. He and his girlfriend, Sheena, got a late deal to Marmaris in Turkey with Thomson, and on their return home they found out they had won £1,000 – enough to cover the cost of the holiday.

“What amazing news!” said Mark. “I really have never won a thing until now. We are going to buy a car tonight so this really is the best timing possible!”

Tickets for the Travel Lottery are available from www.thetravellottery.co.uk and through our travel partners.

Bee innovation at Taste of Fethiye farms

Bee on tomato flower-crop-landscape

Semsi Toprak reports from our Taste of Fethiye project in Turkey…

Farmers sometimes use bees for fertilizing the plants in their greenhouses. The bees are introduced artificially from hives that consist of boxes that can be moved from place to place according to where you need them.

Farmers on the Taste of Fethiye project were using imported bees from Holland or Israel to do this job until several years ago when some entrepreneurs established bee breeding facilities in Antalya. These bees are a particular species that are specifically bred to aid tomato production inside greenhouses.

himmet-inan-crop

Taste of Fethiye agricultural adviser Himmet Inan

Bees work for about two to three months inside a greenhouse and then the colony has a resting period.

Taste of Fethiye agricultural adviser Himmet Inan usually advises farmers to use at least one hive per greenhouse, but this year two neighbouring greenhouse farmers wanted to see if it would be possible to use the same hive but in different greenhouses to fertilise their tomato plants. We approved the idea to see if it could be a good way to reduce costs by sharing bees.

However, when we were carrying out our routine farm visit in order to provide advice and help to the farmers we found out that the bees were not working as we expected and were not fertilising the tomato plants as they should. Following some investigations and discussions with the farmers we finally got to the bottom of the problem. It came to light that the farmers were also using the bees to fertilise their cherry trees!

What they hadn’t realised was that if a bee starts to fertilize cherries, they don’t want to work on the tomatoes anymore because they prefer cherries! Luckily Himmet was on hand to point this out and advise that the bees were not to be let out of the greenhouse to fertilise the cherries. He added that bees in the greenhouse are actually looking for a way to get out and fly around cherries because they taste better than tomatoes. If we had not been there as part of our routine visit the farmer’s crop would have been seriously compromised.

Read more about Taste of Fethiye

Taste of Fethiye food and craft fair in Kayakoy, Turkey

taste-of-fethiye-market-may-2014

Last weekend, the third biannual Taste of Fethiye fair took place in Kayakoy, Turkey. The lively celebration of local food and crafts was set the valley’s old meydan, or village square, overlooked by the ruins of Levissi.

taste-of-fethiye-market-may-2014-organisers

Taste of Fethiye fair organisers including Vicky Erdogan (centre) and Semsi Toprak (second from right)

“The Taste of Fethiye fair is now a date firmly established on Kayakoy’s social calendar,” said Taste of Fethiye project coordinator Semsi Toprak. “We will have another fair in September, when there will be more local food products on sale, following the various harvests. Both the May and September fairs are now popular events for tourists and the local economy.”

Hasan Sahin, head teacher at the local school, which had a stall at the market, told the Fethiye Times, “I think this is a really good event for promoting Kayakoy and it gives local people a chance to earn some money and tourists a different way to experience life in our village.”

taste-of-fethiye-market-may-2014-craft-stall

Taste of Fethiye is a Travel Foundation project that brings together farmers, hoteliers, tour operators and visitors to offer a true taste of the region.

Vicky Erdogan, the hotels and marketing coordinator for Taste of Fethiye, added, “The Taste of Fethiye project was established in the region to encourage and promote sustainable tourism, with local farmers supplying hotels with local produce. The fair is an extension of this, giving local people a chance to sell their crafts, homemade wares, food and homegrown produce. If people in Kayakoy decide to take over the organising and running of the fair in Kayakoy, we feel that Taste of Fethiye will have succeeded in its aim.”

Read more about Taste of Fethiye

Cape Verde Destination Council welcomes new sustainable tourism projects

Destination Council in Sal, Cape Verde

Destination Council in Sal, Cape Verde

Destinations Programme Officer Isabel Kearney gives an update from Cape Verde…

Last week, 18 members of the Destination Council for Sal, Cape Verde, met at Hotel Oasis Salinas Sea. The Destination Council was set up by the Travel Foundation to bring together key tourism stakeholders including the Ministry of Tourism, local government, NGOs, hotels, tour operators and ground agents.

Collectively the council is working towards a vision of Sal as “a welcoming, clean and beautiful island, full of Cape Verdean culture, tradition, craft and music. A destination recognised internationally for sustainability, protecting the environment and involving local communities”.

sal-cape-verde-children

During the meeting National Programme Manager Débora Abu-Raya gave members an update on the Travel Foundation’s three new projects in SalBetter Beaches, Discover the Real Sal, and Cape Verdean Craft – and the council discussed how they could get involved in activities and involve other stakeholders.

sal-cape-verde-beach

Questions were raised about how to deal with stray dogs on the beaches and the quantity of litter being washed up – members who had organised beach cleans shared shocking stories of the amount of litter collected in just one hour. Through the Better Beaches project, and with the cooperation of residents and visitors to Sal, the Travel Foundation hopes to improve the beach environment so that it can be enjoyed by more people.

Débora said, “I’m really pleased that the second Destination Council meeting went so well. Members are engaged in the projects and showed real passion for turning Sal into a sustainable tourism destination.”

Over the coming months, the Destination Council will be working on a joint action plan in order to achieve this vision for Sal, as well as contributing resources towards a beach clean for World Oceans Day on 8 June.