The Travel Foundation is a UK charity that cares for the places we all love to visit. Thomas Cook has been working closely with them to take action on sustainable tourism since their beginnings in 2003.
Anyone who takes a holiday can make a positive difference when they travel. Sustainable tourism isn’t necessarily about specialist or ecotourism holidays, it’s for every person who takes a holiday…. and it can make a huge difference in favourite destinations.
It can help protect the natural environment, traditions and culture - the things that make holidays special - and it can improve the well-being of destination communities, thus ensuring that local people benefit from tourism and are happy to give visitors a warm welcome.
All this can give us an even better holiday experience, as well as helping to ensure there are great places for us all to visit - for generations to come!
At Thomas Cook, we're passionate about the places we go to. Travel not only broadens the mind, but opens our eyes to the fragile beauty of the world around us. With the Travel Foundation we're exploring new ways to help protect, preserve and have a positive impact on the people and places we visit. The Travel Foundation is there to help Tour Operators like us to work even harder to reach our goals.
We already have steps in place to award our greenest hotels with Travelife Awards, and we’ve even introduced a number of opportunities for our customers to meet local communities and craftspeople. These privileged insights not only offer a richer holiday experience and a greater understanding of other cultures, but also directly support the lives of some of the poorest people on the planet.
With the increasing debate over climate change and the drive to reduce carbon emissions, sustainable tourism gives us an opportunity to make a positive difference when we travel.
By doing simple things, we can help ensure that we protect the natural environment and offer maximum benefit to the communities who live in the places we all love to visit.
Thomas Cook partners with The Travel Foundation in order to make tourism a force for good - minimising any negative effects on the environment and using income from tourism to help protect precious natural resources.
The Travel Foundation also encourages travel businesses to buy goods and services from the local area (such as ingredients in hotel restaurants and local excursions, for example). This decreases the need for imports (and the many miles these can travel) and allows families living in destinations to earn a better living out of tourism.
As a major UK travel company, we see 'Sustainable Tourism' as being a major factor in our future.
We've been committed to making real changes to the way we operate for several years now, and by managing tourism in sustainable ways we hope to help protect the environment, traditions and cultures of the places we visit.
We're sure it’s an interest you share. That’s why many of our customers will be asked to make a small donation to help the Travel Foundation in their vital work. The vast majority of customers are already choosing to give. If you wish to make a donation direct, you can text ‘donate’ to 61199 and this will send a £2 donation to the Travel Foundation.
Since we started collecting, our customers have donated over £1,000,000 towards Travel Foundation projects in destination communities. See Case Studies (below) to see where some of your money has been used.
All of us at both Thomas Cook and the Travel Foundation, wish to thank all customers who have participated very much for their kind support.
We at Thomas Cook have been actively working with the Travel Foundation since 2003, and since we introduced the concept of a voluntary contribution made by customers at the time they book their holiday, together we’ve all helped many people all over the world to benefit from tourism.
Tourism scholarship in Turkey:
In Turkey, Thomas Cook has been working with The Travel Foundation to set up a university scholarship in tourism management for young girls from impoverished backgrounds. This scheme seeks to offer a brighter future for the girls, as career opportunities in Turkey are few and far between. Most leave school by 14. The placements are at Mugla University near Bodrum.
As market leaders in Turkey, Thomas Cook was keen to help! The girls have done really well over the past 3 years and we were delighted to give them the opportunity to experience tourism from a tour operator perspective. They have just recently finished a 20 day placement in our Kusadasi office and in order to widen their experience further they will be taking up work experience this summer with our local agent Diana Travel.
A new opportunity and a whole new future for the girls:
"If I hadn’t got this scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to go to university. I can now concentrate on my classes and not worry about how I can pay for them." Cigdem Gummussay
In The Gambia, farming is giving hope to the unemployed:
Musa is 22 and had been unemployed since leaving school. He now works on The Travel Foundation training farm, where he has learnt about organic farming and micro-gardening to supply vegetables to local hotels. Musa has already saved £300 to invest in his own commercial garden. The new income is also helping his younger brother, who is now able to go to school. Fresh hope for the family and good local food for visitors to enjoy!
440 farmers are now earning up to 300% more by supplying hotels in the Caribbean and The Gambia.
In Mexico, we’re rebuilding livelihoods with bees:
Hurricane Wilma left a barren landscape for Araceli and the rest of the Benito Juarez community. She is now filled with fresh hope for the future, as the leader of a new honey production scheme. The initiative is allowing the community to make a living from tourism without having to leave their traditional homes ... and is also helping to protect the endangered Melipone bee. Visitors also get a sweeter taste of Mexico!
2 communities have fresh hope for the future through bee keeping and jam making in Mexico.
Saving water and energy in Cyprus:
The Travel Foundation is working hard to save water and energy at some of our favourite destinations. In Cyprus, they used its expertise to help 67 hotels achieve a 10% drop in water and energy consumption – an amazing saving! Water is a particular problem in many resorts, not only in the developing world, but also in many popular Mediterranean destinations. In 2008 there was severe rationing for residents in Cyprus, so this project was much needed. Phase II of the project is now underway, working with a further 300 hotels with the help of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation's hotel inspectors.
Similar projects are underway in Morocco, Turkey, the Caribbean and Sri Lanka.
Bringing benefits to villages in Cyprus:
For holiday makers the Cyprus Self Drive routes are a great way to get out and about under your own steam and discover the hidden treasures of the island. With 5 routes published and the 6th due out in autumn there are plenty to choose from. 90 rural communities now benefit from tourism income and so far 188 producers have new business opportunities.
Purchase your routes from your Thomas Cook representative in your hotel and discover all this for yourself.
Involving and educating children:
Hatch the Turtle is a cartoon Hawksbill Turtle character who shows children how to look after destination environments. Games, puzzles and colouring competitions encourage children to keep the environment clean and tidy, learn some of the local language and understand how different life can be for local children.
Feedback from children and staff was so positive that Hatch has become a permanent member of our destination teams in 2009, joining our other marine mascots Dizzy the Dolphin and Shades the Shark.
These stories are all great news as it means that the support that we give to The Travel Foundation has a wide impact - it is already changing the way we do business and allowing travellers to make a real difference to the people and places they love to visit.
A message from the Chief Executive, The Travel Foundation:
"I am proud to be one of the founders of The Travel Foundation - we started as a unique 'experiment' in co-operation between the travel industry, government and sustainable tourism experts, with the simple aim of 'caring for the places we love to visit'. That important aim remains at the heart of our work today and now with the financial support of over a million holidaymakers and major travel groups like Thomas Cook, we are able to make a difference to many more lives around the world.
Our work is all about ensuring that tourism benefits the people in host communities, and that destination environments and wildlife are conserved for the future. With the help of Thomas Cook's customers, we hope to do even more in the future. Thank you."
Sue Hurdle, Chief Executive, The Travel Foundation
To find out much more about The Travel Foundation, please visit the Travel Foundation website.