A major landmark towards responsibility
Exotissimo has signed an agreement on March 17th, 2014 to start its certification process for its 5 top destinations i.e. Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Tour operators and Travel agents play a central role in the tourism industry. As intermediates between tourists and tourism businesses they can influence the choices of consumers, practices of suppliers and the development within destinations. Through their unique position travel companies can make an important contribution to the protection of the environment and culture and in promoting social and human rights in the destinations they operate in. Exotissimo trust they can act to improve tourism impacts, as well as influence both clients and suppliers to commit themselves along on the rewarding road towards responsibility.
Key areas where travel companies can integrate best practices are:
- Office operations, by saving energy, paper, and complying with best labour practices
- Product development, by integrating sustainability principles in the choice of suppliers,
- Working with suppliers, by supporting and motivating business partners towards sustainability
- Customers relations, by creating awareness and responsible choices, for example through information and code of conducts.
- Destinations, by supporting destination stakeholders’ efforts to address sustainability issues, and financially contributing to conservation and social projects.
What is Travelife?
Travelife was created by the tourism sector for the tourism sector and has been set up to support an efficient and cost effective introduction of sustainability principles. Travelife recognises the value of collaboration in successfully implementing actions for sustainability. Travelife brings together the individual and collective experiences of tour operators and their associations. Also, it draws upon experiences of other initiatives within the tourism sector.
Travelife offers industry-wide standards for sustainability management and provides best practice guidance and support for travel companies implementing these through the provision of training, tools and references. It provides tour operators with an integrated set of instruments and tools in order to effectively promote sustainability:
1. A state-of-the-art tour operator and travel agency training package including online training modules and examination for the sustainability coordinator/manager, product managers and other staff members.
2. A sustainability management system for tour operators and travel agencies including 6 steps: capacity building, baseline assessment, policy statement, action planning & implementation, monitoring & reporting and communication.
3. A common sector-wide online supplier sustainability system to support tour operators with the assessment of their suppliers‟ sustainability performance and to support suppliers with the implementation of sustainability practices into their operations.
4. The Travelife destination approach provides tour operators with a platform to work in partnership with other tour operators in order to promote sustainability in selected destinations.
Travelife certification is already well known for Hotels with 1,300 hotels certified in 43 countries, and is currently the most comprehensive international certification for Tour Operators. Its main strength and the reason why the EXO Foundation specifically recommended it, is that it focuses on building a sustainable tourism supply chain. Worldwide Travelife has already been introduced among more than 1.200 staff from tour operators, members of European tour operator associations such as the ANVR (Netherlands), ABTA/FTO (UK) and ABTO (Belgium) and is supported by major European brands such as TUI, Thomas Cook and Kuoni. About 35 tour operators are now under the process of Certification and 15 have been Travelife Certified so far. About 500 have been recognised up to the Partner level.
The certification of destination management companies has just started as such Exotissimo will be the first destination management company in Asia to be undertaking the certification process.