Over 40 international hoteliers, engineers, sustainability academics and practitioners as well as industry bodies gathered in the UK this week with a common goal, to help hotels reduce their impact on the environment.
The one-off conference hosted by TUI Travel PLC combined expert opinion, advice and discussion on making hotels greener. TUI Travel also took the opportunity to launch its ‘Guidelines for Environmental Sustainability in Hotels’ to key suppliers.
Atlantica, Iberostar and Sol Melia were among the big hotel names present at the forum, listening to experts from across the industry including TUI Travel, ABTA, The Travel Foundation and Overseas Development Institute. The speakers and panel discussions provided delegates with knowledge on the latest sustainability trends and sustainability best practice.
Dermot Blastland, who recently received the Industry Hall of Fame’s Ambassador Award for outstanding contribution to sustainable tourism, opened the conference. Jane Ashton, TUI Travel‘s Head of Sustainable Development, outlined the company’s vision for sustainability in its hotel supply chain and the business case for taking a sustainable approach.
She said, “A sustainable hotel doesn’t cost more and makes good business sense. As Europe’s largest travel company we need to take the lead and educate our suppliers of this fact. A well run business and sustainability go hand in hand. Being responsible also offers hotels an opportunity to enhance and add value to their brand that is very difficult to replicate elsewhere”.
TUI Travel PLC’s new ‘Guidelines for Environmental Sustainability in Hotels’ offer an introduction and step by step guide on implementing good sustainability practice for new builds and operating existing hotels. It builds on the principles of The Travelife Sustainability System and also includes “flagship standards”, providing information on the key environmental, employment and local community measures that need to be taken across a hotel in order to achieve a Travelife award.
The guidelines are planned to help TUI Travel PLC’s UK mainstream arm, TUI UK & Ireland, achieve one of its Holidays Forever commitments as well as hotels across the Group. In June this year, the Thomson and First Choice brands outlined 20 commitments to sustainable tourism. This included aiming to have 50% of customers staying in a Travelife awarded hotel by the end of Summer 2011 and working towards having all hotels in its programme being Travelife accredited by 2015.
Jane commented on the guidelines and the need for the conference. She explained, “We are on a journey and are trying to make all areas of our business more sustainable. We recognise that the only way we are going to achieve a number of our goals is through working with our suppliers. Developing sound sustainability strategies can sometimes be a daunting task and suppliers need help in understanding the best way to reduce their impact on the environment. This is why we have taken the time to help educated hoteliers on sustainability and what we are trying to achieve”
TUI UK & Ireland also announced this summer it has informed all of its suppliers that by May 2011, they will be expected to have purchased a subscription to the Travelife Sustainability System. This was an addition to TUI UK & Ireland’s Sustainable Development Contract Addendum introduced in 2009.
The conference was held at TUI UK & Ireland’s head office in Luton on Monday. Patricio Gonzales Morel, an Environmental Engineer who specialises in hotel sustainability, also presented, putting forward a broad range of initiatives that hotels can take that reduce environmental impacts, while also benefitting their bottom line.
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TUI Travel PLC
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TUI Travel PLC is the world’s leading international leisure travel group operating in approximately 180 countries worldwide. It serves more than 30 million customers in over 27 source markets. Headquartered in the UK, the Group employs approximately 50,000 people and operates a pan-European airline consisting of 143 aircraft. The company is organised and managed through four business Sectors: Mainstream, Specialist & Activity, Accommodation & Destinations and Emerging Markets. In the financial year ended 30 September 2009 TUI Travel had revenues of £13.9bn and an underlying profit before tax of £366m. For more information visit www.tuitravelplc.com