The Travel & Tourism industry needs to put sustainability at the forefront of everything it does and businesses need to lead by example. That is the message from David Scowsill, CEO & President of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), who is asking leading sustainable tourism businesses to play their part in ensuring that the industry’s ethics are raised to the highest order.
WTTC is launching its 2015 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards programme today and is calling for applications from all Travel & Tourism companies, who are setting the sustainability benchmark in their field. As Mr Scowsill explains, the purpose of the Awards is to be an inspiration to others and to educate governments and travel & tourism businesses about how to improve the sustainability of the Industry; “We were one of the first industries to take our responsibilities seriously with regard to sustainability. We know that we have a responsibility for the millions of travellers each year and for the careful preservation of resources and protection of the planet. We also know that we have a responsibility to provide millions of quality jobs to people, who are seeking fulfilment and quality of life through employment. It is important that we learn best practice from each other and that we ensure governments are aware of our achievements”.
Mr Scowsill continues; “Tourism can be a threat to communities when it is not carefully planned and managed. It is essential that our standards of ethics and sustainability are of the highest order. The WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards showcase the leaders of sustainable practices today. These inspiring individuals, businesses and organisations follow a path, which other companies need to emulate and follow”.
Fiona Jeffery OBE, former Chairman of World Travel Market (WTM) and Chairman and founder of the international water aid charity Just a Drop, is the new Chair of the Awards. She says the Awards recognise best practice worldwide; “We want to hear from outstanding applicants, who are maximising social and economic benefits for local people, reducing negative impacts to the environment and supporting the protection of cultural and natural heritage in destinations, wherever they operate”.
The awards involve a three-step application process. This year, a lead judge, Professor Graham Miller, has been appointed to oversee it. Professor Miller holds a chair in sustainability in business at the University of Surrey in the UK and is head of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. He says that it is vital that the judging mechanism is rigorous; “Independent sustainable tourism experts conduct on-site inspections of all finalists. The judges are international specialists in their field from all corners of the world and come from different backgrounds; hotels, tour operators and governments. The rigour and transparency of the judging process ensures that the Awards truly are the global best practice benchmark”.
In the eleventh year under WTTC stewardship, the Awards have six award categories:
• Community Award – recognises organisations committed to sustainable tourism leadership in local community development, empowerment and cultural heritage
• Destination Award – recognises destinations which show commitment to supporting and delivering sustainable tourism best practices
• Environment Award – recognises organisations achieving environmental best practice through biodiversity conservation, protection of natural habitats, addressing climate change, and green operations
• Innovation Award – recognises innovative solutions to overcoming the challenges faced by Travel & Tourism in implementing sustainability in practice
• People Award – recognises organisations dedicated to the development of capacity building, training and education to build a skilled tourism workforce for the future
• Sustainable Business Award – recognises large tourism businesses which successfully integrate sustainable tourism best practices into their planning and operations
Award applicants can submit an application online via http://wttc.org/tourism-for-tomorrow-awards/apply/ Entries open today and the closing date is 14 November 2014.