March 25, 2016
You gotta’ love towns like this, working class, with a few quid in its pocket and some gaudy jewellery, but proud of its roots and not afraid to show it. Fronted by the faded grandeur of homes and businesses, that don’t quite live up to the promise of the wide promenade and the Jubliee Pool, these give way quietly to working piers, boatyards and the railway station…a real life, gritty and unashamedly working town…no artifice here, prime real estate given over to function.
But even so, tourism weaves its spell here. Taking a walk around the town, tiny alleys and lanes dip in and out of sight as we walk down the hill from the wonderful Penwith Community Development Trust (PCDT) through Morrab Gardens revealing beautiful quiet streets with obvious wealth, in the form of stunning period second homes and holiday lettings, sitting quite comfortably alongside slightly umkempt town houses divided into flats and quaint ‘chocolate box’ cottages.
The door to the gorgeous Penzance School of Art is open, revealing a lone student at work in a beautifully lit, high ceilinged room. Were we disturbing her? Too polite to say yes, she allows us a question….Is local housing an issue? Yes, but a shrug of the shoulders says something more….it is just the price to be paid for living in a beautiful part of the world colonised by visitors for large parts of the year and where everything seems to only be valued from that perspective.
Calling into some travel agents to see it from their perspective we enquired from one whether there was any antagonism from local people about ‘outsiders’ buying up homes, ‘not really’ was the reply, ‘although some people, mostly local fishermen, wouldn’t be too happy, but who did they think would buy their fish”.
As a group we are being hosted in the Penwith Centre by Manda Brookman of CoaST to take part in a residential week for our MSc in Responsible Tourism under Prof. Harold Goodwin of Manchester Metropolitan University.
We have already spent two days in London listening to Martin Brackenbury, Ruth Holroyd and John De Vial speak to us about ‘Leadership’, what it means, what it can look like and the types of leadership the tourism industry will require, if it is to manage the significant change, which is surely on the way, as we head into uncharted waters in terms of visitor numbers, climate change and global terrorism.
Our trip to Penzance is more focused on destination management and how tourism can be perceived as a positive or negative and we are here to meet with those who would bring our learning so far to life, real people, living real situations.
What do you do when you believe standard economic thinking distills the value of your hometown into pounds, shillings and pence…into costs and benefits, profit and loss…into an assett to be sold or rented out, and very often to the lowest bidder. What do you do when you think this is fundamentally flawed. Most people just give out about it, some people can be quite vocal about giving out about it, but a very few sit-down and actually do something constructive about it. We come across these people occasionally and they always impress with their passion and alternative solutions, but it is very rarely we come across two such people in a single day who epitomise this thinking, Today was one of those days.
Rachel Martin spoke to us about setting up Pop Up Penzance in June 2013 because they thought ‘someone should do something about the dismal empty shops in Penzance’ and knew they could be an opportunity to bring new and fun activities into the heart of town. These empty units also were a focal point for negative discourse about the town feeding into a downward spiral. The sheer breadth of activities that were utilizing these empty spaces, or ‘opportunities’ as they saw them, was indicative of their willingness to think outside the box and included …ping pong for senior citizens…arts competitions….pop up fish shops…interactive Christmas plays….mini film festivals, and the list goes on. In the main, these provided a social function, bringing the community together to use something we have allowed our planning authorities to rob from us, our main streets.
She also queried how we look at tourism by laying out in black and white a very simple but effective chart. Two columns, one for her and one for her ‘second home owning’ neighbor and listed all the ways they contribute to the area. Her column was very long and included a broad range across social, environmental and economic themes, ‘Charles’ the next door neighbor contributed in only one way, financially……It did beg the question though, if we can afford it, should we be allowed to buy our way out of our environmental and social responsibilities as visitors to a destination, but it is also not good enough of us to assume that the visitor is abdicating their responsibility through choice…we, who live there, must challenge them to contribute more before we rush to judge. Participation is after all a two way street.
Rachel was followed by Kate Jamieson from The Front Room, a truly humble and inspiring young woman…imagine a cafe where you get a ‘Buy one, get one free coffee’ after neatly cleaning your dogs’ poo. Where disco balls glint in the garden and leopard prints decorate the ladies bathroom and where the tenth stamp on your loyalty card means you’re not the one getting a free coffee, instead, a donation is being made which contributes to the wellbeing of the homeless. It might seem a bit odd – and maybe it is – but that is what makes this place stand out from all others. And its all the more remarkable because this is a two-way transaction, not only does Kate have to commit to it, but her customers also have to buy in for this to work, and it seems they do. The Front Room isn’t just a normal café, it might be best described as a quirky and social enterprise, not just chasing the money, but actually contributing to the local community and pushing us to stretch our concept of what a local economy could be.
Both our speakers were asked why they had begun what was surely a brave and lonely journey….their answers were the same, spoken quietly and utterly without conceit; ‘it was just the right thing to do’.
Many people see only the problems, but a few have the courage to roll up their sleeves and just do something about them. Today we were privileged enough to hear from two of them.
Cillian Murphy; Melvin Mak; Hannah McDonell; Christa Buznea; Arzu Özenen
Penzance, Cornwall 16.03.16
December 21, 2015
Cillian Murphy, a Masters student on the Responsible Tourism course at MMU writes about being invited to the speak on tourism at the World Bank
Bing..’you’ve got mail’….spam …spam …spam..then one email caught my eye…to say I was in shock was putting it mildly! It was a surprising culmination to an exciting 8 weeks or so.
Less than 6 years previously the Loop Head Peninsula hadn’t even existed as a destination and to say we had achieved a lot since then was to put it mildly.
We had set up Loop Head Tourism to begin the process of developing tourism on our forgotten part of the West of Ireland. Off the tourism super-highway between Killarney and the Cliffs of Moher the area was overlooked, by-passed and ignored. However, with many other destinations along the coast starting to become overcrowded, we realised it wouldn’t be long before the beady eye of the local authority, travel operators and tourism agencies started to look at our unparalleled landscape and heritage as new grist to the mass tourism mill. But what kind of tourism did we want?
Eco tourism, sustainable tourism, community based tourism all were models that were in vogue yet it was Responsible Tourism which caught my eye, primarily because it spoke about ‘better paces to live in, being better places to visit’ which resonated with the feeling that tourism should really be a means to an end rather than a goal, a development tool if you will, one that meets the needs of local people.
Resported on RTE News https://www.facebook.com/rtenews/videos/1227071937321806/
In May 2010 we won the European Destination of Excellence competition.
In 2013, The Irish Times, ran a competition called the ‘Best Place to Holiday in Ireland’. There were over 1400 entries from all over the island of Ireland, and our commitment to each other as a community and our ethos of ensuring tourism was embedded within all who live on the peninsula meant we were declared the winners. We were surprised but not shocked, quite frankly though, the rest of the country was stunned, where was this ‘Loop Head Peninsula’ place….others on the shortlist were nationally and internationally known destinations. We had arrived, overnight success….after three years of hard work. In 2014 we were the only Irish inclusion in the Sustainable Destinations Global Top 100 and in 2015 we won the Best Destination at the Irish Responsible Tourism Awards and followed that up with the Loop Head Heritage Trail winning Gold at the World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM in 2015.
We were making a name for ourselves as a best practice destination but at a personal level I found I was lacking both the language for the discussions that we were involved in and the knowledge base to take the peninsula to the next level so I decided it was time for me to do a formal degree and I chose to do the MSc in Responsible Tourism with Prof Harold Goodwin at Manchester Metropolitan University. It was a big commitment as my wife and I own a busy restaurant and added to the large amount of time already given over to Loop Head Tourism I would be really stretched.
In October 2014 I received my first reading material and immediately felt at ease, many of the concepts discussed were ideas that I had been thinking about but didn’t know how to structure. Conversations with local authorities and tourism agencies became easier as I now had references and a common language that everyone understood and it also put me on a different level in our discussions, I could no longer be dismissed as ‘just some guy from the West.’ I found that I was beginning to have a better grasp of tourism and development concepts than the people I was talking to.
But back to that email that was looking up at me….it seemed that just one year on from beginning my Masters in Responsible Tourism, I had ‘lucked out’ as they say.
Earlier in the year, as part of the Tourism and Local Economic Development module, I had submitted an assignment titled ‘Tourism as a LED strategy for the Loop Head Peninsula’ which, thankfully, marked quite well. Harold asked me if I would be prepared to deliver it as a presentation at the Responsible Tourism Sessions at World Travel Market, nervously….very nervously, I accepted and in due course I travelled over and on the 3rd of November stood up to talk. It seemed to go well and after the event I spoke to many people who liked what we were doing and promised to call/email/talk, but of course, one never knows where these things lead to.
10 days after returning home, there it was…remember that email I spoke about, well it went pretty much like this:
‘Hi Cillian, I saw your talk at WTM and really liked what you had to say and your approach to tourism development, we are organising a conference in December about tourism and how it can contribute to the twin goals of the World Bank……’
I didn’t really see too much past the World Bank bit to be honest…I even had to check that it wasn’t a hoax email…!
The Loop Head story was off to the HQ of the World Bank Group in Washington.
The list of speakers reads like a list of who’s who in the global tourism industry, and to see a small destination like Loop Head sharing the stage with them in the first tourism conference held by the World Bank Group in 17 years was a pretty happy day for all of us who live there.
The opening speech by Dr Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, spoke about how tourism could be an important tool in realising the twin goals of the World Bank Group, eliminating poverty and boosting income for the world’s poorest people using three headline strategies, Grow; developing an inclusive economic growth model. Invest; in people and human capital and Ensure; people do not regress or become victims;
Over the course of the rest of the day it seemed every speaker had a quota of times they had to use the word ‘sustainable’…I lost count after the first panel…there was on the day, and largely is in general, a huge lack of clarity on the use of the word, the first discussion that needs to be had is what do we mean by sustainable tourism…is it the industry as a whole, is it solely confined to resource use, is it tourism at a destination level or do we mean the ability for tourism to sustain our communities. All of these are valid with none being more important than the other, but it is vital that when anyone speaks about sustainable tourism they first should define from which perspective they view it.
For instance, the cruise ship industry, may have made valiant efforts to reduce their resource use but can have such huge local negative social and economic impacts that they far outweigh any positive environmental ones. It surely isn’t enough to claim you are sustainable because you have saved yourself millions of dollars in fuel costs by implementing ‘efficiency measures’ while using the same language, ‘efficiency measures’, in a different context to pay as little as possible to staff because you have found a legal loophole which allows you to do so, and to cut prices paid to on-shore operators providing services to your guests.
When you hear Brian Mullis, the CEO of Sustainable Tourism International, saying “as the cruise lines take the lead in promoting sustainability” and that “2000 cruises had been verified for sustainable practices” it is surely time to have a proper discussion about the meaning of the word sustainable within the industry.
In Loop Head we have never asked our members to undertake green certification, our feeling is there is enough of a financial imperative for our operators to use resources more efficiently, we pay by weight for our refuse collection with a sliding scale of costs depending on whether we recycle, compost or send to landfill. We pay per unit for water use, effluent treatment and electricity. Business, whether an SME or a multinational, pays attention to these costs, it is to their benefit to do so. When I visit a hotel I do not need to know they are minimising resource use, it pays them to do so and seeing a certificate in reception means nothing to me.
I prefer to see a certificate saying that all their staff are paid a decent wage, what staffing percentage come from the immediate locality and what percentage of their supply chain is produced locally and whether they have worked to increase the amount of local producers in the area from which they can purchase. These are not just sustainable practices, they show the industry taking full responsibility for the overall welfare of the communities it exists within and depends upon to survive.
Many of the speakers on the day passed in a blur of ‘brochure speak’…in effect there was nothing much to learn that couldn’t be by looking at one of their destination or company brochures. However, a couple of people and concepts stood out;
The one item that was raised time and time again by many speakers at many of the different sessions during the day was the need for proper metrics about the value of tourism especially at a local level.
On a discussion about Pathways to Growth there were two contributions worth considering, one from Helen Marano VP for Industry at WTTC about security and our wish to travel, what I took from the discussion was that if we want open borders there will be a ‘tax’ on our privacy, our wish to travel freely may come with data protection waivers. A very interesting and thought provoking concept; given the amount of ‘big data’ companies and governments have available from our everyday use of technology; are we prepared to sign away our privacy in order to travel around the world? I know the concept bothers me, but I am 50, with a very different set of privacy values than, for instance, my children who have grown up in a digital world and simply shrug when I ask them if they care.
The second interesting contribution came from the same panel and again mentioned ‘big data’, Ms Marta Blanco, Director General of Turespaña, who spoke about the use of the information from credit card companies to provide very detailed breakdowns of tourist spending patterns. Like all brilliant ideas, it is the very essence of simplicity. Credit card companies know where you are from, how you travelled, what you spent your money on when abroad, whether you ate in fast food or upmarket restaurants, what activities you took part in, how many attractions you visited, on peak or off peak, car hire, mileage etc…the potential is incredible and could conceivably deliver detailed metrics from national levels right down to local.
In the panel discussion about Tourism’s Sustainability & Inclusion there were two items that merit reporting here, one from the Costa Rican Minister for Tourism who explained that the government retained ownership of the last 200m of land with the 50m closest to the water solely for public use and the next 150m available on a concession contingent on local council planning regulations.
The other came from Lynn Cutter, Exec. VP for National Geographic Travel who spoke about identifying pristine seas and making the case for their protection, putting a value on them and how that value can be utilised for local benefit. Other good discussion were had at the Leveraging the Cultural & Heritage Assets of Tourism with the Georgian Deputy Minister of Economy and Development Ms Keti Bochorrishvili showing us how they have protected their local heritage and leveraged it for local economic benefit.
My own gig was on the following day, last panel of the day, just before lunch, always going to be hard to fill the room but with the award winning journalist Elizabeth Becker moderating we had a very good attendance. Our panel was Destinations that Deliver and Elizabeth drew a line in the sand by showing a clip from the movie ‘Bye Bye Barcelona’ and asked us to comment on how DMOs could avoid hitting the same self-destruct button. Brian Said from Discover Philadelphia spoke about tourism in general and missed the opportunity to speak about whether they had a strategy in place to avoid the ‘Barcelona effect’ and the other panellist was Miguel Pena, Senior Sustainability Analyst for Royal Caribbean Cruises who to be fair was between a rock and a hard place given the pretty indefensible practices the cruise ship industry has promoted in the past.
From my own point of view, I spoke about why we do what we do, how we engage the local community and what the benefits have been for the area as a whole, I did have a fan in the moderators chair though which always makes things a little easier. We were asked to finish with recommendations to the World Bank Group and for my own part it was simply this:
There is no guarantee that tourism will be a good development tool, it will only do so if managed with local benefit at its core. It is not good enough for companies to talk about the trickle down benefits of tourism, the benefits should flow around and expecting it to do so without specific monitoring and reporting is naïve at best and negligent at worst.
A number of World Bank Group staff approached me at lunch to say that they had waited a day and a half to hear from someone such as ourselves, operating at ground level, and in touch with the realities of what tourism can do if developed with the local community benefits to the fore at all times.
The primary benefit for Loop Head, and myself as the chairperson of the group who manage its tourism development, is the validation we received for our Responsible |Tourism ethos from simply being there. Our small destination of barely 125 sq kms with a network of 47 local businesses, working voluntarily on an annual budget of less than €20,000 sitting on the stage at the World Bank taking part in their first tourism conference in 17 years.
Harold Goodwin adds – Sweet for me too. A previous student inviting a current student to speak at the first World Bank Tourism Summit on 17 years!
Chairperson Loop Head Tourism
Loop Head Peninsula,
March 24, 2014
Out alumni achieve some amazing this – Deidre has achieved a great deal and with crowdsourcing can achieve more.
After I graduated I consulted a bit but nothing really clicked for me. In 2012 I decided two things:
1. To start the business I had always dreamed I would do whilst living in the UK once I returned back home to South Africa. And not a one-person consulting business but a business that can grow, scale, create employment and build small businesses and grow micro economies: and
2. to go back to my technical roots combining all I had learnt through my ICRT Masters, other jobs I had in the UK, my travel experiences and my research interests (market access for small business, local economic development, removing barriers to global markets)
Enter MzansiStore.com – an online marketplace for South African hand-crafters, designers, artisans to promote their brand and sell their products to South Africans and the world. Each seller manages their own shop-front and ships directly to the customer.
So now I have built a Tech start-up that builds small hand-craft businesses. I have been running for 15 months and have grown to over 100 sellers. That is over 100 small creative business owners who now have access to eCommerce as a sales channel. Many have never sold on-line before, only at craft markets or in small handmade retail outlets.
And it is going OK. I have two ladies working for me and together we market this monster of an on-line business as best we can. I manage and recruit suppliers (B2B) and find customers (B2C). The South African market is still slow to accept eCommerce but there will be a Tipping Point and I will be there with MzansiStore.com when it happens. After- all you and I know a bit about tipping points. We created that tipping point for Responsible Tourism with all our collective efforts.
In the meantime my business was selected by the World Design Capital Cape Town 2014 committee to be one of their official projects. They recognised that my business bridges the gap between technology and creativity. We are receiving amazing media exposure through our association with @WDC2014. We have been in national glossy magazines, tech blogs, financial newspapers.
Now – @WDC2014 has partnered with South Africa’s first Crowdfunding website called @Thundafund. All projects have the opportunity to raise funds through Crowdfunding and the @WDC2014 will match-fund my campaign by R10 000 but only if I raise my first milestone of R12 000. So this where you come in. You know how Crowdfunding works in your country:
1. if projects don’t make at least their first milestone they get NOTHING.
2. You back a project you believe in and you receive a reward. And we have some special rewards for you.
You see- I am raising funds for MzansiStore AND enabling one of my sellers at the same time. A talented young designer, Chantel, who does not have the funds to purchase a silk-screening and fabric printing equipment to bring her sketches to life, is my fundraising partner. So funds go towards this equipment AND towards marketing her new Home Decor range on @MzansiStore but will only see the light of day if you back our campaign.
Rewards are indicated in approx. euro and pound sterling conversions to make the decision easy and include standard international mail.
So help me show all my South African friends and supporters( who have been slow to back my horse) what a huge impact a successful Crowdfunding campaign can really make.
*** Help me reach all the way to Milestone 3 ***
You know what to do : www.thundafund.com/MzansiStore
March 24, 2014
Our alumni are developing reputations as bloggers:
Vicky Smith has a blog on Volunteer Tourism a ” vehicle to air some commentary, enter some debate and discuss the developing industry sector that is Volunteer Tourism – highlighting the good and could-be-better.” Vicky hopes others will contribute too.
Her paper on paper with Xavier Font entitled ‘Volunteer tourism, greenwashing and understanding responsible marketing using market signalling theory‘, was published in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism in January 2014 It has generated a lot of press coverage – more
Tweet @VolunteerTourismV (for volunteer tourism) @vickysmith to contact Vicky
Nick Stewart a sustainability professional specialising in marketing, communications, collaboration and engagement – tools for positive societal change, currently working in the Communications and Engagement team at South Downs National Park Authority delivering integrated, multichannel awareness raising and behaviour change. More about Nick
Nick is currently working on a sustainable travel campaign called “Discover More of the South Downs for Less” designed to encourage visitors to ditch the car and get out to enjoy the longer, lighter days, thirteen popular visitor attractions including National Trust and RSPB are working with the National Park Authority to offer 2-for-1 entrance fees for public transport users. This is part of their “Discover Another Way” behaviour change campaign, being run jointly with the New Forest National Park Authority, encouraging visitors to swap the car in favour of other modes of transport in the National Park. Alongside improved public transport services and infrastructure development such as new cycle paths, by 2015 the campaigns aim to switch 370,000 car journeys to bus, train, cycling and walking instead, which equates to 11,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. Background here.
If more of you are blogging let me know and I’ll add you here,
On an uncharacteristically rainy and grey January evening aboard Jus’ Sail’s Carriacou Sloop Good Expectation at Rodney Bay Marina, the students, instructors and mentors of the Jus’ Sail 2013 youth sailing program were joined by some of the programs key financial supporters to celebrate the graduation of the students from the 2013 Jus’ Sail program.
Originally, the students joined the Jus’ Sail program after Jus’ Sail formed an alliance with the International Youth Foundation and their local partner the National Skills Development Centre (NSDC) who recently completed phase two of their Caribbean Youth Empowerment Program.
The weather did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the gathering, so as the rain cleared, the barbeque was lit and the drinks flowed, the three graduating students – O’Brian Forde, Vestus Severin and Mikhail St Clare – were awarded their Jus’ Sail Certificates after successfully completing the syllabus set by RYA Offshore Yachtmaster James Crockett and fulfilling an extended period of work experience with IGY Rodney Bay Marina.
In addition, the students also received their First Aid and CPR certification from St John’s Ambulance and their Swim to Survive Certificate from The St Lucia Lifesaving Association, the training for which was delivered by Germaine Anthony of the SLLA who was also in attendance. These two additional certificates formed an integral part of the Jus’ Sail program to ensure a well-rounded and thorough training regime.
An exciting announcement was also made at the event: Jus’ Sail has recently been accredited as an official Sail Training Centre with International Yacht Training Worldwide (http://www.IYTworld.com), the world leaders in internationally recognised sailing certification, endorsed by the gold standard industry body, the UK’s MCA. This important development heralds a new era of sailing opportunities for St Lucia’s youth, who can now gain access to the sailing industry through internationally recognised certification delivered right here in St Lucia at affordable prices or at no cost depending on the level of funding Jus’ Sail can achieve to support their activities.
The courses on offer with Jus’ Sail to participants in the summer of 2014 will include – International Competent Crew, Flotilla Skipper, Bareboat Skipper, Small Powerboat/RIB Master and VHF Operator certification. All the courses offer a springboard to further industry career paths.
In other news Jus’ Sail was also the recent recipient of a second vessel, the J30 Jaystar, which broke its mooring in Barbados in November 2013 and drifted to St Lucia, where by it was collected by the coastguard and brought into the Rodney Bay Marina. The vessel’s owner Ronald Hunt after over 20 years racing Jaystar across the region decided he did not want her back and sought a good home for her in St Lucia. When someone recommended Jus’ Sail, the paperwork was handed over and the local charter company now has a second vessel that is ideal for sail training. The first goal for Jaystar, funding allowing however, is a significant refit in the Rodney Bay Ship Yard undertaken with the 2014 cohort of students so that they can get first-hand experience of fiberglassing, woodwork, engine, electric and rigging repairs and maintenance.
Jus’ Sail are seeking donations and assistance to help fund the 2014 program; interested parties can contact James Crockett or by email – email@example.com for more information.
James Crockett is a Responsible Tourism Masters graduate.
November 1, 2013
Susdane is a freelance journalist and blogger with a passion for revealing the treasures of a sustainable and socially aware world.
“I first met Jo a few months ago at Sandele Eco-Retreat in The Gambia and we instantly hit it off, spending hours talking about our mutual interest: Responsible travel. Jo’s story is the tale of a small voice that gradually grew louder in a bid to introduce responsible tourism to a large organization from within.
It is an interesting one to me, as it demonstrates the amount of work that sometimes goes on behind the scenes by dedicated individuals to make mass tourism more sustainable.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to he a holiday rep”, Jo says closely followed by her infectious laugh. On holiday with her family, she would be at the rep’s desk, hassling them to show her their work. As she grew up, she learnt Spanish and wanted to travel, but backpacking was just too scary for her at that point. Solo female travel has come a long way since then.”
Some of you will notice Sean Owens, another of our alumni, in the photo “Taste of Fethiye”
September 21, 2013
The Thomas Cook Group ‘Local Label’ excursion was borne from the overseas sustainability framework ‘Destinations of Excellence’ that was launched in May 2012. The framework is divided into Bronze, Silver and Gold levels and resorts are targeted with meeting these criteria and reporting their progress annually.
Bronze criteria are about getting our own house in order, looking at reducing energy and water consumption in our overseas homes and offices, reducing waste and passing on practical tips to holidaymakers.
The Silver and Gold levels have criteria that relate to ‘identifying excursions within our programme that are founded in sustainability and assessing their positive impacts to local communities and economies’ (Silver level), the same applies at Gold Level however this time they must be newly created excursions not existing ones, therefore increasing the scope of our positive impacts.
Mario Klemm, Head of Operations (HOO) for Greece and Cyprus came up with the idea of promoting the ‘local’ features of our excursions as he knows that this is what his customers are interested in and knew that this would tick the right Destinations of Excellence boxes. He approached me for support with the idea and together with Joe MacDiarmid who is Mario’s Regional Operations Manager, we created the ‘Local Label’
Based on the Travel Foundation’s Greener Excursions Checklist’, the component parts of each excursion are checked against the relevant criteria (shopping, markets, food & drinks venues etc) I request detailed information from our overseas staff and send the completed checklists to an internal panel which includes a colleague from Thomas Cook Germany. To ensure robustness, we also send at least one in five of the checklists to the Travel Foundation for external review.
If the criteria are met, the excursion can be promoted using the ‘Local Label’ logo and strapline and our overseas representatives can communicate the benefits for the destination, the local community and local economy plus the added value to our guests of taking such an excursion as they will get a more authentic and locally focussed experience.
The Local Label was officially launched in April 2013 and by July we had 28 excursions in 19 destinations. Some excursions have been regular features on the resort planners before and seven are new for summer 2013. Most Local Labels began to run in June with a few starting later in July, and we have been able to do a year on year comparison for these two months.
By promoting the Local Labels based on the authenticity and added value to the customer experience, we have increased our excursion sales by 42% and have sent over 5000 more customers on these excursions during this two month comparison period with 2012. Some of the regular events saw an increase in turnover of between 59% and 280% year on year, which really does demonstrate that sustainability sells and our customers are looking for it.
In addition to the great income achievement, our customers also fill in Local Label surveys to let us know their feedback and their discretionary spend on local produce, this means that we can also demonstrate the added value to local communities and economies from our business. These surveys will be fully analysed at the end of October 2013 when the summer season is closed.
I’m looking forward to the introduction of more Local Labels throughout the remainder of the summer and into the winter programme, and have set myself a target of having at least one Local Label per destination by the end of summer 2014.
Sustainable Destinations Manager
Thomas CookUK & Ireland
and ICRT Alumni