Working with our overseas teams and suppliers

As my role is predominantly around working with our overseas teams and suppliers, it’s great to see some examples of them working together in resort to raise awareness with customers and to play their part.

There are two great achievements to talk of recently in Italy and Zante.  In Italy, our management team has been behind an awareness raising campaign at Terminal 2 in Naples airport.  Previous seasons have seen considerable issues with waste in Italy and this has had a negative impact on the image of the destination.  To ensure that tourism does not further contribute to this problem, our team wanted to ask customers for their support at the very beginning of their holiday with a ‘Keep Italy Beautiful’ campaign.  In conjunction with the British Consulate, GESAC (the airport authority) and Hilton Hotels we designed a poster to ask visitors to the destination to consider the environment during their holiday.  These tips include recycling where possible, minimising water use, turning off lights and air conditioning when not required.  There was also a positive focus on supporting the local economy by encouraging visitors to spend money on local produce and visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sights.

Four posters in total are displayed above the conveyer belts in Terminal 2 and in the arrivals hall which sees some 50,000 visitors pass through its doors every year.  GESAC were delighted to give the advertising space free to Thomas Cook as they were so impressed by our committment to looking after the destination.  Hilton Hotels sponsored the printing of the posters and our team were fully supported by the British Consulate.  It’s been a great way to get some positive messages across to all visitors, not just Thomas Cook customers.

Elsewhere in Zante, another great project has been underway to involve customers, the resort team and the hotel management in raising awareness of environmental issues with guests.  As part of the internal promotion process, employees wishing to progress their career overseas must undertake a task linked to sustainable tourism.  One of the head reps in Zante is working towards a position as a resort supervisor next year.  He chose to work closely with the hotel manager of the Caretta Beach Hotel and with the resort KidWORLD team and the hotel rep.  Together they created a themed ‘Green Corner’ in the hotel, the theme varied over the period of month from the sun cream swap to reduce unecessary wastage, newspaper and magazine recycling, plastic bottle recycling and re-using lilos.  The rep involved a local recycling company who donated special bins for the project and who collected the waste at the end of each week.  The project went down a storm with the guests and it was a great new focus for the overseas team.  It has helped customers to understand the fragility of destination environments  and encouraged them to think about their actions when on holiday.  It was done in an innovative and fun way that got everybody involved and proved to be a real success.

Jo Baddeley
Sustainable Destinations Manager
Thomas Cook UK & Ireland
Jo is a current student

ConCERT – Connecting Communities, Environment & Responsible Tourism

As I am still finishing my MSc in Responsible Tourism Management at Leeds Met  I’m currently volunteering at ConCERT Cambodia as their ‘ Voluntary Responsible Tourism Advisor’.

This is the second year that I’m involved with ConCERT and it has been marvelous to see it evolve in such a wonderful and helpful service. I’m using my learning from the Msc program daily and I can share my knowledge to help the organization.

ConCERT – “Connecting Communities, Environment & Responsible Tourism” – is a nonprofit organization based in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  The aim is to reduce poverty, and we do this by bringing together visitors who want to help, and local organizations that need the kind of support they can give.

At ConCERT we have information on a range of organizations that are engaged in humanitarian activities, all of whom need your support.  They are well managed and financially transparent, and work in partnership with local people.

We also have a wealth of information on the causes and effects of poverty in Cambodia; this information explains why there is such an urgent need for your support. People are also often not aware of their actions as a tourist and the consequences for the country and the community.

I believe this kind of service is fairly new. We actually guide people in being responsible and donate time and money to the organizations that are well managed and need their support. It is important for us to meet the needs of the community and organizations rather than only the needs of the visitor or volunteer. The issues are complex and difficult and we are working with tour operators, our NGO members, and others in the industry to help design better activities. The goal is activities that provide truly memorable experiences for the participants, that are driven by and meet the needs of the local communities, and that embody the true spirit of responsible tourism.

The organization really helps people to make the right decision and be informed about the current situation in Cambodia.

ConCERT has become an effective 3 way link between visitors, businesses, and the local community (via our NGO members) – all 3 groups can play a vital role in the fight to alleviate poverty, and we promote understanding across the 3 sector.

www.concertcambodia.org

Thedivehub.com takes the plunge!

This week sees the launch of thedivehub.com, a responsible scuba diving website that aims to draw information into one ‘hub’ so that divers don’t have to visit dozens of websites to pick up on the latest responsible diving news, case studies, tips and resources. It’s a place to encourage, engage and celebrate positive action that is happening above and below the water. It hopes to show that the choices divers take can make a difference, one dive at a time!

I have been passionate about scuba diving since before taking the MSc in Responsible Tourism Management, and it is fascinating to apply what I learnt on the course. I have been working on the dive hub for several months and this is really only the beginning of a journey that I know will teach me a lot. I have discovered that many dive centres and operators are already achieving a great deal towards more responsible diving. Not only are they working hard to find ways to conserve the reef and benefit local communities, very often their actions enhance the quality of diver experiences too.

Some of my recent blog topics have included a look at how improving local water quality can help coral reefs cope with warming ocean temperatures, something that all dive resorts and the tourism industry in general, can improve on through better water management. Another example is the planned creation of a shark sanctuary, led by a dive resort, which could put Raja Ampat firmly on the divers’ destination list as a place where the chances of a shark encounter are greater due to the way local stakeholders are working together to protect the species.

There is plenty of development to be done with much more planned for the website, lots of new case studies are on the way and a new page dedicated to dive volunteering trips will hopefully be ready by the end of September.

Applying responsible tourism principles to diving is a brilliant opportunity to do more to conserve the marine environment and benefit local communities, whilst at the same time improving the quality of experiences for the divers themselves. Please take a look, tell any scuba mad friends about it, and let me know your thoughts or comments. I would love to hear about any examples of responsible diving that you may have come across.

www.thedivehub.com

contact: kateturner@thedivehub.com

Kate graduated from the MSc in Responsible Tourism Management in 2008