Thomas Cook

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.



Débora Abu-Raya, Overseas team

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

Thomas Cook celebrates Make Holidays Greener Month with beach cleans and holiday swap shops

Calvia Council Official MHG photo - crop

July is Make Holidays Greener Month and this year’s theme is the Big Holiday Beach Clean. Travel companies around the world are running beach clean-ups and other sustainable tourism activities. Jo Hendrickx, Sustainable Destinations Manager for Thomas Cook UK & Ireland, explains how they’re getting involved…

Thomas Cook has supported the Make Holidays Greener campaign since it was first launched in 2010, and it has now become an integral part of our annual sustainability calendar. Our overseas teams particularly look forward to the month of July and use the campaign as a time to increase their sustainability activity and, in particular, to engage with holidaymakers, suppliers and local organisations.

Make Holidays Greener activities have proven a great tool in bringing people together in support of environmental and social activities that can make a really big difference to holiday destinations, and the people that live in and visit them.

Over the years, hundreds of reps, customers and suppliers have taken part in beach, underwater and forest cleans – removing waste and debris that includes bottles, cans, plastics, tyres and even toilet seats!

Our biggest achievement so far was working together with Calvia Council in Mallorca and other tour operators to undertake a joint underwater clean up in Palma Nova bay. Reps donned their scuba gear and headed underwater with specially designed floatable collection bags that enabled them to clear the seabed and float the debris up to other teams waiting at the surface. It was collected on the beach by Calvia Council and all 800kg of waste was taken for recycling.

This year, we were delighted to find that the overall campaign is based on cleaner beaches and are expecting even more activity than ever from our overseas teams as this really is our forte. We will be doing more underwater cleans along the coast in Tanzania, Sunwing and Sunprime Hotels have already carried out a number of beach cleans as have our teams in Cyprus.

In the Costa Blanca we will take a different approach as many hotels are not close to the beach, but we know there are still plenty of things we can do to make a difference, so our teams will be asking holidaymakers to recycle their almost empty sun creams, other toiletries and even lilos – by holding swap shops in hotels and then ensuring the final empty products are collected for recycling.

We are also really proud to see our Travelife GOLD awarded SENTIDO Golden Star Hotel in Bulgaria pledging their support through the Travel Foundation Beach Clean Map and are looking forward to hearing how their event goes on 12 July. It’s great to see that so many of the hotels involved here are Travelife awarded, demonstrating their commitment to sustainability and involving staff and customers in their efforts.

We will be recording the efforts of all our teams and look forward to providing an update at the end of the month.

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.

Interview: Turkish tourism graduate Gülşah Boztepe

Thanks to our scholarship programme with Thomas Cook, Gülşah Boztepe gained an undergraduate degree in tourism in 2011. The programme sponsored five female students to study tourism at Mugla University, giving them a chance to apply for well-paid jobs in Turkey’s growing tourism sector, which at the time was male-dominated.

We caught up with Gülşah to see what she’s been up to since her graduation…

Gülşah Boztepe

How has your life changed since completing your tourism degree in 2011?

With the support of Thomas Cook and the Travel Foundation, I had management training and tourism industry training and I worked with travel agencies in different departments. I have now continued to my career in accommodation and the hotel industry. I am interested in total quality management and sales and marketing. I am responsible for reservations and sales for two five star hotels in Marmaris. The hotels have 631 and 640 rooms.

On the other hand, in my academic career, I analysed what was missing from the Marmaris region in terms of sustainability, through interviews with hotel and travel agent managers. Finally I decided to start my Master’s degree. My Master’s thesis was about “Sustainable energy applications and use of renewable energy sources in accommodation establishments: the case of Marmaris”.

What have you learned about sustainable tourism and how will you use this in your career?

The environment, through the history of humanity, has suffered great devastation by humans. And we know that we need the environment. Nowadays, a lot of natural resources are faced with extinction. The tourism industry actively uses historical, cultural and natural resources. My mission is to try to raise awareness for efficient use of scarce resources and leave a liveable world for the future.

How does your family feel about your success?

My biggest supporter is my family. They helped me during my studies with constructive criticism and new ideas. They are always proud of me.

What are your hopes for the future?

I will study the expansion of sustainable tourism, development of the local economy, protection of local values and increasing use of renewable energy sources. Environmental resources are universal and we have to take care of them. I will continue my postgraduate studies in this field and continue with a doctoral degree.

I hope that we will work and prepare new projects, presentations and articles with Thomas Cook and the Travel Foundation again.