Sustainability Training for Tour Operators

Between the 24th and 25th of October 2012, Wild Asia joined their new sustainable tourism partners, Travelife, in Bangkok for a two day training workshop for tour operators titled “Sustainability in Tourism”.

More than 80 Thai tour operators joined a two-day training in Bangkok to learn how to integrate sustainability and CSR principles into their company.

Participants included already committed Thai travel companies interested in achieving formal recognition and better market access, as well as major ground handlers who felt a growing demand from their European business partners for complying with international sustainability standards.

How to make the sustainable attainable

The tourism professionals learnt how to integrate sustainability in their office operations such as energy saving and reducing paper use as well as staff-related social policies and human rights. They also looked with “sustainable glasses” towards their transport, accommodation and excursion providers. A more sustainable supply chain can be created by contracting already sustainable suppliers and by supporting existing business partners towards more social and environmentally friendly behavior.

The participants also learnt about the principles of sustainability management and created their initial sustainability mission statement, policy and action plan. In addition they learnt about the growing expectations of European consumers and business partners for accountability on sustainability and how to apply the international Travelife Sustainability System.

Implementing what has been learned

The training kicked off a larger programme in which the European travel associations ABTA (UK) and ANVR (NL) work together with their Thai counterparts in order to promote a more sustainable EU – Thai tourism supply chain. Participants will be offered follow-up support in the use and implementation of the knowledge, methods and tools acquired in the training. The ultimate goal is to prepare for sustainability certification in order to increase competitiveness in the global market.

Amy, from Wild Asia, comments on the training workshop. “I was delighted to see so many different types of operators eager to become sustainable. It was inspiring to see that businesses realise the potential benefits of sustainability beyond just saving some money. Of course, the cost benefits can be huge. But tour operators want to offer life changing holidays that educate visitors, benefit communities, promote workers’ welfare and conserve the natural environment”.

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Gain regional support

Wild Asia are delighted to announce our official partnership with Travelife. This means we will be the SE Asia advocates for the sustainability system, working with tourism operators across the region to improve their business.

We want our region to improve in sustainability, benefit from the environmentally aware market and become recognised as a leading area for responsible tourism. We’ll be offering a range of bespoke consultancy packages to aid businesses towards Travelife certification.

If you are interested in gaining support towards a certification, or would like to discuss responsible tourism training further, please contact us.

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The training, organised by the Thai tour operator associations ATTA and TEATA, was financially supported by CBI, the Dutch agency for the Promotion of Imports from Developing countries and the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative.

(The content of this webpage was adapted from a press release preprared by Travelife. Photos: Travelife)

Sustainability Training for Tour Operators – October 2012 (Bangkok)

Following our recent partnership with Travelife, Wild Asia is proud to announce the 2-day ‘Sustainability for Tour Operators’ training course organized by Travelife this October in Bangkok. The free course is targeted at tour operators (company executives, contracting and marketing managers) and travel associations and tourism boards.

Dates: The training will be provided twice

  • 17th & 18th October (Wednesday & Thursday)
  • 24th & 25th October (Wednesday & Thursday)

Venue: Bangkok, Thailand (exact venue TBC)

After completion of the training, participants will be offered support in the use and implementation of the knowledge, methods and tools that have been acquired in the training. This support will be in the form of follow-up meetings and individual coaching sessions. The ultimate goal is to prepare travel operators for sustainability certification in order to increase your competitiveness in the global markets.

The training will be conducted by Chris Thompson and Naut Kausters, both leaders and practitioners in sustainable tourism with more than 20 and 15 years’ experience individually. The training is designed to be hands-on and interactive using a variety of learning techniques.

What will you learn?

At the end of this course you will be able to:

  • Understand the concept of sustainability in tourism
  • Recognize the key environmental, social and economic impacts of tourism
  • Understand the roles and responsibilities of tour operators (inbound/outbound)
  • Identify the types of actions tour operators can take in the field of transport, accommodation, excursions and customer communication
  • Identify quick wins for your own business and for your suppliers
  • Set realistic sustainability targets and identify methods of measuring success
  • Identify personal sustainability USP’s (Unique Selling Points)
  • Communicate sustainability achievements in an effective way to your clients
  • Use your sustainability achievements to create more business (marketing)

How to register?

Book early as training slots fill up quickly. To register, complete the registration form below and email to n.kusters@cbi.eu. You will receive a confirmation upon successful registration.

Choose from the two dates: 17th & 18th October (Wednesday & Thursday) OR 24th & 25th October (Wednesday & Thursday)

Cost: Free of charge. Sign up now!

Registration deadline: 30th September 2012.

Participants should have relevant experience in the tourism business and master the English language on professional level.

Stay in touch for the latest training updates and sign up for Wild Asia’s e-alerts.

Download the Agenda and Registration Form

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Supporting organisations

  • TEATA, Thai Eco and Adventure Tour operator Association
  • ATTA, Association of Thai Travel Agencies
  • ABTA, The British Travel Association
  • ANVR, The Dutch Association of Tour operators and Travel Agents
  • CBI, Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries
  • IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative
  • Travelife, Sustainability in Tourism
  • Wild Asia, Responsible Tourism Initiative

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Wild Asia & Travelife

For more than ten years Wild Asia has been working across Asia championing the benefits and potential of developing a tourism industry that benefits local places and people through their Responsible Tourism Initiative (RTI). Wild Asia’s RTI works with businesses to improve their social and environmental practices to meet and exceed global standards. By creating partnerships with businesses within the industry, they aim to inspire and create change to benefit our environment, wildlife, people and communities.

Travelife, developed in 2005, was set up to support an efficient and cost effective introduction of sustainability principles for the tourism industry. They offer industry-wide standards for sustainability management and certification and provide best practice guidance and support for tour operators implementing them through the provision of training, tools and references. Travelife, originally initiated in Europe, is already supported by more than 15 national travel associations who promote Travelife across their members.

The partnership with Travelife is a perfect marriage of values. Wild Asia will be the Asia based Travelife delivery partner, offering training and support to tour operators across the region. Tour operators will benefit greatly from having locally based expertise at hand.

Together, the sustainability partners will support tour operators achieve green accreditations, enhancing the tourism offer for customers and improve marketing for the region. Adopting responsible tourism principles through the Travelife training programme and management systems will not only improve participants’ corporate social responsibility profile, it will also provide significant cost saving opportunities, enhance relationships with staff and host communities, and open doors to new marketing avenues.

If you are a tour operator based or operating in South East Asia and are interested in beginning your journey towards sustainability, please contact Wild Asia to enquire more about joining the Travelife scheme. Contact rt@wildasia.org.

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Workshop on Community Based Tourism (Frasers Hill)

The perfect setting for a workshop with WWF Malaysia’s Community Officers – lush green forested areas, cool temperatures and an array of wildlife and flora. The Wild Asia tourism team and Sandra Tagal, director of Borneo Jungle Safari’s was invited to speak at the “Community Based Eco-Tourism workshop” in Frasers Hill on 27-29 June 2012. The two-day workshop saw 15 people from all walks of life coming together to share a common vision and passion – to see communities empowered to venture into alternative source of livelihood via tourism.

Community Officers set the tone at the start of the workshop by giving the team and their colleagues an overview of their project site, initiatives, challenges and lessons learnt. Each took pride in sharing their experiences and each shared a common empathy on the struggles faced when dealing with communities.

A few success stories surfaced from the sharing and among them were the  engagement with tourism operators in Kinabatangan, Sabah. Programme  Officer, Lavernita Bingku talked about her two year journey in putting a conservation and visitor levy for the Kinabatangan, the second longest river in Malaysia that is steadily growing in tourist numbers and businesses.  Kick-starting the implementation of the Conservation Levy Programme was no easy feat; however with the right authorities supporting and continuous support and effort from the Kinabatangan Corridor of Life Tourism Operators (KiTA) themselves, the Conservation Levy Programme was successfully implemented. Through the levy, they’ve raised a substantial amount that will be used for conservation efforts in the within the area.

Another amazing story was that of PEWANIS, a local women’s entrepreneurs group in a coastal village in Setiu, Terengganu. WWF was involved in identifying members for this group and further identifying avenues for secondary source of income for these women. The group started producing banana chips for sale. Although the chips were selling well, profits were not enough to sustain the growing number of women in the group. So, WWF and PEWANIS came together to rehash and agreed on offering low impact nature tourism products and activities to tourists. Strategically located on the coastal front, the village has astounding views of the sea and is easily accessible via boat. There are also major hotels around the area setting the scene for healthy flow of tourists. The women developed and marketed tourism activities such as mangrove tree planting, environmental education activities, kite making and cooking classes. Currently, the group is going strong and all efforts are fully developed and managed independently by the community.

After listening to inspiring stories from around the country, Wild Asia’s associate programme manager, Deborah Chan shared on concepts of community based tourism and eco tourism. She highlighted case studies from around Asia of community led and managed tourism projects. She drew examples from Wild Asia’s Responsible Tourism Award winners and finalists. Among them was Ecosphere, a secluded hilltop village in Spiti, India who successfully established a tourism business that generates half of the community’s income annually, Andaman Discoveries, initially a relief aid NGO set up in Thailand after the tsunami and now a very effective tour operator with responsible community based tourism projects across Thailand. Wild Asia’s responsible tourism coordinator, Amy McLoughlin also enlightened the group with her experiences with two grassroots community projects in India – Kabani Homestays and Agri Tourism India.

Community officers learnt the ingredients that make successful community projects and tools to monitor and measure these successes using standards like the Global Sustainable Criteria (GSTC) and the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Checklist. They also learned the importance of communicating their lessons learnt and ways to market tourism products in order to ensure transparency and profitability.

[pullquote style="left" quote="dark"]Passion and heart for the community are the very essence that determines the success or failure of a community project. People must come first…[/pullquote]

Reflecting on the two-day workshop, Liza Jaafar who’s overseeing a turtle project in Malacca and hoping to develop the destination for turtle tourism expressed that tourism is far more complicated then she thought and she now understands that tourism is a volatile industry and hence it needs to go hand-in-hand with other innovate sources of income.

Another participant, Jennifer Matthew said, “I have learned so much from this workshop particularly the need to involve all members of the community when it comes to decision making and to ensure equitable distribution of wealth. I will take this lessons learnt and implement them for future projects in the highlands of Bario, Sarawak.”

Among the results of the workshop was healthy dialogue about how to introduce tourism into existing community initiatives and ways to establish positive working partnerships with industry players. Wild Asia hopes to partner with WWF to create sustainable community based tourism projects in Malaysia. This two-day workshop is a foretaste of (hopefully) greater collaboration.

Download Presentation

View the slides presented by Wild Asia on Community Based Tourism (CBT). It outlines basic concepts CBT in the context of environmental conservation, economic benefit and development of local communities with case studies of our previous Responsible Tourism. Responsible CBT projects can produce revenues for local communities and improve local attitudes towards conservation. If you would like to engage Wild Asia for future talks or workshops, please contact rt@wildasia.org.

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Wild Asia & Travelife Partnership

Wild Asia is proud to announce an exciting new partnership with the international sustainable tourism certification and training scheme, Travelife for tour operators.

For more than ten years Wild Asia has been working across Asia championing the benefits and potential of developing a tourism industry that benefits local places and people through their Responsible Tourism Initiative (RTI). Wild Asia’s RTI works with businesses to improve their social and environmental practices to meet and exceed global standards. By creating partnerships with businesses within the industry, they aim to inspire and create change to benefit our environment, wildlife, people and communities.

Travelife, developed in 2002, was set up to support an efficient and cost effective introduction of sustainability principles for the tourism industry. They offer industry-wide standards for sustainability management systems and provide best practice guidance and support for tour operators implementing them through the provision of training, tools and references.

The new partnership with Travelife is a perfect marriage of values. Wild Asia will be the Asia based Travelife delivery partner, offering training and support to tour operators across the region. Tour operators will benefit greatly from having locally based expertise at hand.

Together, the sustainability partners will support tour operators achieve green accreditations, enhancing the tourism offer for customers and improve marketing for the region. Adopting responsible tourism principles through the Travelife training programme and management systems will not only improve participants’ corporate social responsibility profile, it will also provide significant cost saving opportunities, enhance relationships with staff and host communities, and open doors to new marketing avenues.

Reza Azmi, Founder and Director of Wild Asia, the only Asian grown organization dedicated to responsible tourism across the continent, speaks out about the exciting new partnership. “We’re delighted to be working with Travelife. Becoming accredited Travelife Auditors and Regional Representatives is great news for Asia. We look forward to working with locally based tour operators, helping to improve their business, tourism for Asia, and protecting our diverse environment and unique and treasured cultural heritage. Sustainable tourism has never been more important, and in demand. A recent Lonely Planet survey revealed a staggering 93% of people said they would purposefully partake in environmentally-friendly travel. Businesses must step up to the demand”.

If you are a tour operator based or operating in Asia and are interested in beginning your journey towards sustainability, please contact Wild Asia to enquire about joining the Travelife scheme. Please contact us at rt@wildasia.org.