Would TUI merger push industry towards greater transparency and sustainability?

Tui sustainable holidays report

We heard a few days ago about the proposed merger between TUI Travel and TUI AG, which would lead to the creation of the world’s number one integrated leisure tourism business. Part of the core strategy is to broaden the portfolio of unique holiday experiences as consumers demand more experiential holidays.

Since the focus of the World Travel Market broadened from ecotourism and the environment to encompass economic, social and environmental responsibility we have seen markedly more engagement by larger business in the WTM Responsible Tourism programmes at its shows in London, Cape Town and Sao Paulo. The Responsible Tourism Speed Marketing session at WTM Africa in May showcased some of South Africa’s emerging businesses and demonstrated the vitality of the SMEs in the sector.

As important as the SMEs are in tourism, the travellers who book with them use the same airlines, airports and car hire firms as mainstream tourists. Once on holiday they use the same accommodation as a base for their jazz township tour and other  attractions also visited by a more conventional mainstream tourist.

The publication of TUI’s annual sustainability report is important because it is the performance of the larger companies which makes the biggest difference to the performance of the sector as a whole. Last year TUI sold 5.8m ‘greener and fairer’ holidays, moving towards their target of 10m. Over five years, TUI Travel airlines reduced CO2 per passenger km by 9.3% and achieved 70.7g of CO2 emissions per revenue passenger km (RPK).

Johan Lundgren, Deputy Chief Executive and Jane Ashton, Director of Group Sustainable Development discuss the highlights from year two of the Sustainable Holidays Plan.

TUI has set targets designed to embed sustainability throughout the customer journey. By 2015 they plan to deliver 10 million holidays in hotels with credible sustainability certifications, operate Europe’s most fuel efficient airlines, and save 20,000 tonnes of carbon from their ground operations.

The targets and the indicators are clear – if only we saw this kind of reporting form more businesses, large and small. After all, a green label tells us very little about what is achieved: we need more transparent reporting.

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Harold is WTM’s Responsible Tourism Advisor, he puts together the flagship Responsible Tourism programme at WTM London which attracted 4000 participants in 2020 and the programmes run at WTM Africa, WTM Latin America and Arabian Travel Market. Harold has worked on 4 continents with local communities, their governments and the inbound and outbound tourism industry. He is Managing Director of the Responsible Tourism Partnership and chairs the panels of judges for the World Responsible Tourism Awards and the other Awards in the family, Africa, India and Latin America. Harold works with industry, local communities, governments, and conservationists and undertakes consultancy and evaluations for companies, NGOs, governments, and international organisations. He is also a Director of the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he is an Emeritus Professor, and Founder Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism promotes the principles of the Cape Town Declaration which he drafted.

One comment

  1. Xavier Font says:

    After an initial readjustment period, I believe it would increase transparency. My research in cruise and hotel groups CSR reporting shows that the larger the companies, the more they report. We have also found however that cruise reporting isn’t always material, i.e. that companies report on what they can do, rather than what stakeholders would expect. In hotel groups we found a 25% gap between what the reports say and what the companies do. There is no study yet analysing the reporting of tour operators.

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