Month: April 2015

Summit up – WTTC calls for industry to measure, monitor and report impacts

Flamenco at wttc

Local colour: Flamenco dancers at WTTC Global Summit

Travel Foundation CEO Salli Felton and I have just returned back from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit in Madrid. The Global Summit is the annual get-together for travel industry big-hitters, tourism ministers and associated industries to learn about the challenges and opportunities ahead and to do business.

As well as the expected focus on investment, infrastructure, taxation and visas (the things that can both help or hinder the travel and tourism industry) the WTTC, its strategic partner the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and other members of the Global Travel Association Coalition are starting to make increasingly bold calls on the industry to understand their social and environmental impacts, and coordinate their response – music to our ears!

Daryl Wade, CEO of Peak Adventure Travel – owners of the Intrepid Travel brand amongst others – gave his thoughts on why it was important for one of the world’s largest industries and economic success stories to act as one on common sustainability issues:

“As an industry, we don’t take this [sustainability] anywhere near seriously enough. The WTTC is increasingly successful at portraying travel as a huge industry. The negative side of that is that we could become a target for governments, NGOs and shareholder activists”.

To encourage its members (and the wider tourism world) to start speaking with one voice on its impacts, WTTC has launched a new guide on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting. With it, it hopes the industry can start to be ‘appropriately evaluated in terms of its contributions to both the economy and its impacts on environmental and social issues’.

As we know at the Travel Foundation, more monitoring and data availability and transparency can only be a good thing, so we applaud the WTTC’s drive to seek unity and uniformity and look forward to seeing the results of its efforts.

You can read a full version of the report here: http://www.wttc.org/-/media/files/reports/policy%20research/esg%20main%20report%20-%20web.pdf

  – Graeme Jackson, Head of Partnerships

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Fethiye farmers step closer to a sustainable future

taste of Fethiye logo300Since 2010, our Taste of Fethiye project in Turkey has been working to increase the benefits farmers in gain from tourism, and encourage good farming practise.

Having successfully increased produce yields, the project looked to assist farmers with the sale of produce to hoteliers, and other businesses, through a wholesaler under the ‘Taste of Fethiye’ brand. Now in it’s final year of Travel Foundation funding, project stakeholders have significantly begun to step-up activities in preparation for ownership after 2015.

Having seen the value in fresh, local produce, the wholesaler (through which the ToF produce is sold) has produced its own marketing materials for ToF branded fruit and vegetables. This includes printed materials such as letterheads and purchase agreements, and new van livery that includes the ToF logo. This is a really positive step towards self-sufficiency.

Senay Coskun, owner of the wholesaler in Fethiye

Senay Coskun, owner of the wholesaler in Fethiye

Below we hear from Senay Coskun, owner of the wholesaler…

“We have been working with the Taste of Fethiye project for 4 years and we are very happy with the progress. After all these years we feel ourselves as a big family with farmers, project manager and hoteliers. We are receiving quality products from the farmers and delivering them to hotels as fresh as possible.

We see the increasing interest from the hoteliers too. Every year we are increasing our sales with new hotel agreements. As the company owner I always thought that we are very much lacking in marketing and communication.  With the help of Taste of Fethiye project we feel that we’ve improved our communication and marketing skills. With the story behind and successful improvements through the years, this project gives us the tremendous opportunity to communicate more with our customers.

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Becoming a runner up in UWTO Ulysses Awards was fascinating and we were very proud to play a part in that. We wanted to promote the Taste of Fethiye brand more because the interest towards the project is increasing very rapidly we wanted to stress our involvement. After all as a service provider, working with this unique project is helping us to grow our business.”

The ToF project has been working with 29 farmers throughout 6 villages, who are now supplying produce (via the wholesaler) to hotels and businesses throughout the Fethiye region. To read more on this project, click here.

Making the most of Mo Bay…

Annette Coral in JamaicaWhat’s it like working on sustainable tourism projects in a popular holiday destination? In today’s blog piece, we gain insight from Coral Purvil-Williams (Jamaica Project Research Assistant, right in picture), and Annette Tingle (Jamaica Programmes Coordinator, left in picture), on the latest TF activity in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Coral is based in Montego Bay, and Annette in Kingston on the other side of the island. Whilst always in contact, Annette and Coral get together on a regular basis for meetings with stakeholders and project participants to ensure the smooth running of the Travel Foundation’s activities in Jamaica.

Last week, Annette and Coral spent three days together in Montego Bay, having been asked to provide feedback on a customer day trip by an excursion provider. Making the most of their joint time in town, they were also due to meet with the Rastafari Indigenous Village, and research Montego Bay hotspots (and those that are lesser known!) for new customer communication and staff training materials.

Who better to hear from on how their time was spent than from the Mo Bay resident herself, Coral…

“On Tuesday afternoon, after getting some administrative work out of the way in the morning and collecting Annette, our job was to meet with the excursion provider, before participating, ‘secret shopper’ style, in one of their Montego Bay shopping excursions. The idea was to provide feedback and recommendations relating to the amount and level of information provided by the tour guides, the quality of each stop and opportunities for participants to meet local people and purchase Jamaican drinks, snacks and souvenirs. Following on from the tour, we collated all our feedback and sent it on to the excursion provider.

Richmond Hill - View over MoBayOn Wednesday, we visited ‘Ahhh… Ras Natango Gallery & Garden’ as we are thinking about including it in some new promotional materials about what to do and see in Montego Bay. The drive there was a great experience; we meandered along narrow roads, up some 2000ft, into the mountains while watching the pace of life in rural Montego Bay. Our time there was spent interacting with other guests and meeting with the owners.

After a quick lunch we were on our way to our next appointment at the Rastafari Indigenous Village (RIV) but unfortunately we received a call to say they were unable to accommodate us. This often happens when dealing with operational businesses; they need to react and respond to day-to-day activities which calls for us to remain adaptable and flexible. So, instead of meeting the RIV community we squeezed in a meeting at the Tortuga Rum Cake factory (which will be added, along with the gallery and gardens, to TF materials and potentially the excursion provider’s new tour) and completed the day with paperwork and planning! Annette will be back next month to meet with RIV…

On Thursday, we were up pretty early prepping for our scheduled meeting with the Sustainability Director for Karisma Hotels and Resorts at their Azul Sensatori hotel property in Negril. Following previous collaboration between TF and Karisma in Mexico, on the Jungle Jams project, the hotel group is interested in opportunities to get involved in sustainability work in Jamaica. This meeting was lengthy but productive – five hours later, it was quite a scramble to get Annette back to the bus station for her transfer back to Kingston – we now have some interesting options to consider!

As a result of our mystery shopping exercise and our site visits, the excursion provider has said that our feedback will be used to…

“enhance the quality of the (existing) Mo Bay shopping trip for our customers and to make it more sustainable for the community…” It was also mentioned that they are now “thinking of developing a (new) exclusive shopping trip for Montego Bay and I will use your recommendations when putting it together”.

These activities form part of TF’s project aimed at improving visitor circulation and spend in Montego Bay. TF are in the process of developing communications tools for visitors and training sessions for tourism staff which celebrate and promote the unique qualities of Montego Bay.

Back to the Sea - fish

Award-winning sustainable fishing

We are pleased to announce that the Mediterranean Conservation Society (MCS) / Fauna and Flora International (FFI) project, “Towards Community Based Conservation, Gokova Bay”, won a 2014 UNDP Equator Initiative Award. The project was commended for promoting local sustainable development solutions for people and nature.

In response to marine ecosystem degradation, declining fish stocks, and associated losses to fishermen’s incomes, the Mediterranean Conservation Society (MCS) created a network of ‘no fishing zones’ along the southern Mediterranean coast of Turkey that put local fishing communities in the lead of marine biodiversity conservation.

This was complemented by the TF/FFI project, Back to the Sea, which offered local fishermen, operating in Gokova Bay, relevant training and capacity building to offer traditional fishing tourism excursions to visitors, while fish stocks replenished .

“We want to help ecosystem restoration and not to catch more fish as a livelihood. Traditional Fishing Tourism is a great tool for us from now on to share our experience and culture with tourists.”

– Ercument and Semra Altinsoy, a fisher couple who have now retired from fishing to focus on developing boutique tours and better support the No Fishing Zones 

Traditional Fishing Tourism is now demonstrating important alternative livelihood options for local fishing communities.