Conferenza Internazionale sul Turismo Sostenibile, Rimini 28-30 giugno 2001 International Conference on Sustainable Tourism, Rimini June 28-30 2001 Giulia Carbone The Tour Operators’ Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development is a group or network of like- minded tour operators committed to promoting the development of sustainable forms of tourism. The Initiative benefits from the support of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nation Scientific, Cultural and Education Organization (UNESCO) and the World Tourism Organization (WTO/OMT). Tour operators occupy a crucial position in the tourism industry: by creating holiday packages they have a direct influence on the tourism supply chain, such as accommodation and transport suppliers. They also influence the level and type of development of tourism destinations. They therefore have an important role as a catalyst for positive change to protect the welfare of host communities and customers as well as meeting commercial interests in the rapid growth of the global tourism industry. The members have recognized that sustainable development is the only way forward to guarantee the long-term viability of their businesses. As the environment and cultures are being degraded in many destinations, tourists — their customers — are becoming more and more sensitive to the total quality of the holidays they purchase. Through the Tour Operators’ Initiative, they have made a commitment to pursue good practices in our activities, both internally and when forming business relationships with partners, suppliers and sub- contractors. They have agreed to: protect the natural environment and cultural heritage; cooperate with local communities and people to ensure they benefit from the visits of their customers and encourage their customers to respect the local way of life; conserve plants and animals, protected areas and landscapes; respect the integrity of local cultures and their social institutions; comply with local, national and international laws and regulations; oppose and actively discourage illegal, abusive or exploitative forms of tourism; work closely with business partners, local authorities, regional and national governments and other organizations to achieve the sustainable development of tourism; provide information on their activities to develop and encourage the sustainable development and management of tourism; communicate their progress in implementing our commitment. The members of the Initiative have committed to continue to improve these practices. They recognize that none of these practices is a ‘one and only’ solution. Not only does each one need to be adapted to a specific situation but also a combination of actions is needed to ensure the sustainable development of the tour operators’ business. A collection of good practice case studies was prepared to show some of the ways in which members of the Tour Operators’ Initiative are trying to put into practice their commitments. Many of these case studies are ‘work in progress’, but they provide good examples of the types of practice that all tour operators can adopt to help tackle sustainable development in three main areas: the supply chain, within their own organizations, and at destinations. Conferenza Internazionale sul Turismo Sostenibile, Rimini 28-30 giugno 2001 International Conference on Sustainable Tourism, Rimini June 28-30 2001 Working with destinations British Airways Holidays is conducting Life Cycle Assessment in its most important destinations to identify, in cooperation with local stakeholders, the main areas of concern in the development of the tourism industry and to propose relevant and effective solutions. The Scandinavian Leisure Group has established an auditing system in its tourism destinations, and has used this to open up a constructive dialogue with local stakeholders — and particularly the local authorities — about sustainable development. Improving environmental management To bring forward its commitment to environmental and social issues, JTB World Vacations Inc., a subsidiary of Japan Travel Bureau, has implemented an Environmental Management System, according to ISO 14001 criteria. Working with suppliers Finnair Travel Services is introducing environmental clauses into its contracts with hotels. This provides a legal basis for ensuring that the selected hotels respect minimum criteria of environmental quality. ITS-Reisen is opening a constructive dialogue with its contracted hotels by distributing an information manual on environmental management in hotels. Orizzonti has developed checklists for its contracted hotels to increase their awareness and to offer a competitive advantage to the ones that have in place environmental conservation measures, by highlighting them in its catalogues. Improving transport’s environmental profile Implementing a more sustainable transport policy is one of the core elements of Studiosus efforts toward sustainable development. Incentives to substitute air and road transport with train and special clauses for buses are among the implementing measures adopted. Support for conservation of natural and cultural heritage Complementing international conservation efforts by providing direct financial assistance and indirect support to remote mountain destination in the Karakorum region is at the core of Travel Walji’s efforts to promote sustainable forms of tourism. Premier Tours designs tours that include sites and accommodations that contribute to the conservation of the visited destinations as a way to contribute to the sustainable development of tourism in Southern Africa. Viaggi del Ventaglio contributes financially by setting aside a share of the revenue generated by its customers to Santo Domingo, and reinvesting this in the preservation and restoration of the site. Awareness raising An interpretation guide for the customers providing a thorough understanding of sensitive areas such as the Antarctic is an important element of Hapag Lloyd Kreuzfharten’s commitment to protect the visited destinations. Guidelines for responsible tourists have been developed by Andante Travels to improve the relationship in the visited sites between visitors and local communities as well as minimize visitors’ impact on the natural and cultural environment. Increasing customer awareness in sensitive destinations such as the Red Sea is the goal of Conferenza Internazionale sul Turismo Sostenibile, Rimini 28-30 giugno 2001 International Conference on Sustainable Tourism, Rimini June 28-30 2001 Accor Tour which has developed a leaflet highlighting the actions to avoid in order to prevent damage to the coral reefs and coastal environment. Motivated tour guides will not only improve the quality of the visit but they will also be the most effective guardians of the destinations. VASCO Travel offers its tour guides annual training addressing sustainable development and teaching them the most effective communication techniques. The TUI Group, a Preussag Group Company, has produced a far-reaching and interactive web site for use by anyone interested, including guests, partners, destination communities, research and environmental organizations, and journalists. The site has already given rise to an aid project for Samos after the forest fires of summer 2000. Combating illegal forms of tourism Thomson Travel’s subsidiary, Fritidresor, is combating the commercial sexual exploitation of children by implementing the ECPAT code of conduct against child sex tourism.