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Implications for tourism of eroded environments and threat to business interests

Company Name : Touristik Union International (TUI)
Company Address :
City :
Country : Germany

By Tourism Marketing and Management by Dr. G. P. Raju

Based in Germany, TUI is the largest tour operating company in Europe with business activities extending to hotel chains, incoming agencies, and foreign tour operators in which it has a significant ownership stake. Its traditional business has lain with marketing package tours to clients from north Europe looking for holidays in the sun in the Mediterranean but, while the bulk of its volume still lies in that region, its scope now extends virtually world-wide. In the late 1990s TUI carried some 5 million visitors to 145 destinations in more than sixty different countries. As a major private-sector player in a country which is in the forefront of the environmental movement with a well-established Green political party, TUI were well aware by the late 1980s of the implications for tourism of eroded environments and the threat to their business interests. In 1990 a senior management appointment was made to .spearhead the company's environmental responses, reporting directly to the Executive Board. Detailed knowledge of German consumer's interests and expectations in environmental matters underlies the operator's responses, and they have access to comprehensive information on market trends. Bearing in mind that Germany is now an affluent mature market with many very experienced international travelers, the data included of this book showing how environmental expectations increases with frequency of travel are especially relevant to this case.

Partnerships involved

Stating that 'any scope for cooperation should be exploited to the full, and recognizing the need to work with local authorities as well as with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at its destinations, TUI identify productive partnerships with there own subsidiary and part-subsidiary companies, with the Environment and culture Committee established by the German Travel Agents association (DRV) and with the International Federation of Tour Operators (IFO). Utilizing its environmental database TUI has also established an international Environment Network (TEN) collating information flows derived from its subsidiaries and contracted hotels for all the countries with which it deals, from Antigua to Zimbabwe. TEN is the quantitative and qualitative expression for the people, institutions, organizations-internal and external-cooperating in terms of reporting and working practically on the process of reducing environmental impacts worldwide.

Rationale for a sustainable strategy

TVI Ask their own question: 'How can even a large tour operator justify expenditure of millions of D-marks on environmental activities? There season is obvious; holiday regions and resort hotels cannot remain successful in the long term without clean beaches, clean water, and unspoiled landscape ... Changing values and customer expectations show that ,traditional ideas of what constitutes [product] quality are outdated Environemtnal compatibility, orto be more precise, minimum pollution is very high on the list of holiday essentials. Tour operators wishing to survive need to offer unspoiled landscape and nature.' TVI make it perfectly clear that they are in business to make a targeted return on investment and that an environmental efforts and investment must be subjected to the kind of cost benefit analysis that is 'an essential element in today's corporate development.'

Environmental Programme

TUI environmental criteria for destinations

Obviously reflecting customer demands and expectations, the operator uses ten criteria for formally evaluating the quality of the environment at destinations. It includes waste-watermanagement, landscape and nature; air quality and levels of noise; garbage-disposal practices; fresh water supplies; sea and shoreline; the nature of environmental activities (statutory and proactive) undertaken at the destination; and the quality of 'surroundings', or the overall ambience provided by are sort. The implications that the operator will not contract with destinations that do not match their criteria developed ion a comparative/competitive basis are ominous for destinations that allow their environment to deteriorate. Over the years, dealing with dozens of 'competing destinations, the company has built its information flows into a database referred to earlier as the TVI Environmental Information System. This database, even for just one large international tour operator, is a potential goldmine for evaluating and communicating good practice. For new resort~ under consideration for investment by TVI, their " project managers are drawing up formal environmental impact statements (EIS), recognizing that cfny major project is increasingly likely to undergo an environmental impact assessment (EIA) before it gains permission.

TUI critejia for hotels and other accommodation

Again reflecting its customers' demands and expectations, TVI operate an eight-point assessment for evaluating the environmental credentials of the accommodation suppliers with which it deals. The detailed criteria are explained and presented to hoteliers as checklists which are analysed by the Group's database. Seminars are conducted to explain the process. The checklist includes operational issues such as waste-water treatment; waste-disposal practices; energy-and water-saving measures; noise levels in the hotel; and broacher 'environmental ambience' factors such as architetecture and building materials of the hotel; location and immediate surroundings of the hotel grounds. Interestingly, TVI add 'other aspects of the hotel either causing concern or being particularly environment-friendly.'

Head office operations

Although of lesser immediate impact on sustainable tourism, TVI has nevertheless audited its head office operations and by changing the paper used for brochure production, for example, was able to reduce the environmental impact on the water used in the process by 90 percent. It operates the normal systems for controlling energy use, waste separation and recycling, re-use, etc.

Influencing the behaviour of tourists on holiday

TVI recognize the need to influence the behaviour of its customers at the destinationusing carefully prepared information designed to stimulate interest in sustainable issues and the options open to visitors on holiday. They are also clearly aware that this is not an easy process. 'Persuading headonistic citizens of the leisure era to save water and energy and to avoid discarding litter is by no means impossible." More than 600 TVI broachers are distributed by the German package tours market every year and a complex system of different ways and means provides guest information after arrival in the hotels. Large, independent, so-called 'mass tour operators' have been heavily criticized for their failure to act in support of the environment, especially at destinations. This case, with its important stress on precise environmental criteria developed and applied by a commercial operator in determining with which destinations and with which accommodation suppliers it will work, provides a striking indication of post-1990 corporate thinking which we consider to be a clear indication of the direction of market trends. It is especially relevant that the operator's business is based in one of Europe's most sophisticated and demanding populations, but we judge it to be equally relevant to the more affluent half at least of the other major mature tourism markets in north Europe. A key section of TVI's published corporate principles in noted below. The protection of an intact environment is of the most importance to all of us. It helps us to safeguard our natural resources and ensures the future of our enterprise. Each of our corporate divisions bears responsibility for the environment. Each employee is called upon to come up with helpful ideas, since environmental protect in begins with each of us. The environmental protection begins with each of us. The environmental compatibility of our product is an integral part of our standard of quality. This corporate principle is part of the Group's Strategy 2001. It is applied to all other group members in other tourism-generating countries, such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria. TUI is thus using its strategic influence proactively as a major purchaser to influence its suppliers and contractors in environmentally sustainable ways.

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