Month: January 2016

Florida sustainability conference gets a Taste of Fethiye

Taste of Fethiye Project coordinator Semsi Toprak Semsi Toprakrecently held a break-out session in the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference North America (ESTCNA), the first major sustainable tourism conference following the adoption of the United Nations Sustainability Goals and the outcomes of COP 21 Climate Change negotiations.

The conference was organised by The International Ecotourism Society and hosted by the University of South Florida Patel College of Global Sustainability. The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Transforming Our World Through Sustainable Solutions’.

I can’t tell you how good it was to be able to speak about the project that far from home. Seeing the interest – and even surprise – on people’s faces was worth the trip.

Semsi’s session took place within the ‘Sustainable Food’ theme and was well attended by an international group consisting of tourism professionals, travel writers, private companies and academics.

It was amazing to see the audience’s interest. One question followed another, until at last we got a nod from the moderator to end the session. Once again I was very proud to be part of this unique project, which presents an ideal example for the tourism industry.

– Semsi Toprak, Project Coordinator

> Find out more about Taste of Fethiye

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Bringing the Message: Sustainability Training in Sal

Insider Guide to SalDébora Abu-Raya, National Destination Manager, Cape Verde explains how training is benefiting Sal…

Last month, to mark the launch of the new Insider Guide to Sal, Cape Verde, the Travel Foundation delivered the first of several planned workshops with tour operator resort teams.

The training explained the concept of sustainability, and how it can be communicated to customers in a fun, non-obtrusive way.

Using this method we believe that customer satisfaction levels will not only increase but also the benefits of tourism to the economic, social and environmental make-up of the island will have a much wider impact, whilst the possible negative impacts are better managed.

When high season begins, reps are “taken by the wave” so it is difficult to get more involved with the destination and meet customer demands for information about the local community.

The first batch of reps to receive the training were from tour operator Thomas Cook. They were intrigued but not quite sure what to expect, but they soon warmed up and left empowered, knowing that they could do more, and aiming to do so.

The training covered practical ways of improving walking tours, increasing their knowledge about Sal so as to pass more and better information to customers. Reps will also start promoting the Insider Guide to Sal, encouraging visitors to explore the island a little more.

What I tried to show them was that small steps, when taken in the right way,  may bring huge benefits to a destination and they, as a holiday rep, can leave in six months knowing that they made a difference to the destination and its community and that will last a long time after they leave.

So, when it comes to sustainability in tourism there are many people who think it’s just a waste of time or an illusion at first sight, and for us who are bringing the message sometimes it demands a lot of energy and really positive vibes! But then when we finally get the opportunity to implement actions and see changes happening, it’s just amazing and suddenly you get filled with double the energy to continue.

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Débora Abu-Raya, Overseas team

> Read our ‘Insider Guide to Sal, Cape Verde’

Tourism growth – an opportunity and a challenge.

As we start a new year, so much of the news about the tourism industry is about its growth.   Bookings for 2016 are expected to grow and ABTA recently announced that the number of overseas holidays booked  in 2016 is up 10% year on year.  Meanwhile, this year the cruise sector will introduce 27 new ships.  In fact, despite occasional shocks, tourism has shown virtually uninterrupted growth over the past 6 decades, it’s now one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world.  By 2020, the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organisation) predicts that a staggering 1.36 billion tourists will be travelling abroad and that by 2030 tourist numbers will be double what they were in 2010.

Village Routes, Cyprus, 2010, copyright Georgina Cranston, wine tastingThis is undoubtedly good news for the industry and more tourists means economic advantages and opportunities, including tax revenues and jobs, for countries receiving visitors too.  But with all this growth, how can the industry protect the quality of the customer experience, which thanks to the rise of peer to peer websites empowering us all to share our experiences with each other, has never been more vital to a company’s reputation?

The elements that go into a good holiday include a warm welcome from local people, a clean, beautiful environment, a feeling of relaxation and of being safe and secure. Holidaymakers also increasingly value the knowledge that their visit is benefitting the destination in some shape or form.

Looked at another way, all these elements for a good holiday are also what also goes into making a sustainable destination.  In short, a great place to live, work and visit.

As tourism continues to grow, getting these elements right becomes ever more challenging as it involves the whole gamut of organisations that have a stake in the holiday product – including destination authorities, tour operators, hotels, excursion providers and more.  The Travel Foundation was created to work with all these parties, bringing them together to support a shared vision for better destinations and in turn better holiday experiences.  We do this by increasing access to market for local people, supporting destinations to share their local heritage, food and culture and developing ways for tourism to fund conservation and protect biodiversity.

2016 ushers in the official launch of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and its sustainable development goals which include tourism.  With the industry’s growth set to continue, it’s heartening to see this recognition of the important role sustainable tourism can play in improving people lives and protecting the environment.  And it highlights a significant opportunity  for the industry and destination governments to re-think how tourism works for the benefit of the destination and the holidaymaker.

Gina 222Written by Georgina Davies, Communications Manager.