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Press Relases March 10, 2003

Global Tour Operators Unite to Influence Hotel Industry to Integrate Key Environmental and Social Criteria into Its Operations

Tour Operators Look Toward Booking Clients with Most Responsible Hotel Companies

BERLIN/GERMANY/WASHINGTON, DC/PARIS—The Tour Operators' Initiative (TOI), a global network of 25 tour operators, today began disseminating a new guide to over 25,000 contracted accommodations in an effort to influence hotel companies worldwide to integrate key environmental and social practices into their operations. A Practical Guide to Good Practice: Managing Environmental and Social Issues in the Accommodations Sector was developed in partnership between the TOI, supported by the United Nations Environment Programme, and the Center for Environmental Leadership in Business (CELB), a division of Conservation International. This guide identifies ten environmental and social issues critical to the long-term success of the accommodations sector.

The guide provides information to managers on key environmental and social issues including: energy and water conservation, waste management, chemical use, purchasing, contributing to community development and biodiversity conservation, staff management and developing environmental management systems. For each issue, the guide offers a brief summary, the business benefits for adopting good practices and a sample of actions that managers can adopt to improve the performance of their facilities. References to additional resources are also provided.

"The goal of this report is to raise awareness on these important issues among hotel managers globally," said Jamie Sweeting co-author of the guide and Director of Travel and Leisure for CELB. "This is a first step towards the integration of environmental and social criteria into the business relationship between tour operators and hotels."

"The members of the Tour Operators' Initiative have recognized that integrating these sustainability criteria in to their business model for conducting business with global hotel companies should be based on a stepped approach, allowing the necessary time for suppliers to improve their sustainability performance level," said Tom Selanniemi, Chairman of the TOI. "Tour operators should also consider providing more focused assistance to hotel managers, offering promotional opportunities to good performers, and finally contracting with preferential hotel companies that have adopted set sustainability performance standards."

A number of tour operators have demonstrated that sustainability can be successfully integrated into their business models. MyTravel Northern Europe and Aurinkomatkat-Suntours, for example, have integrated minimum environmental requirements into their contracts. Prior to the signature of the service agreement, all accommodations have to demonstrate compliance to these minimum criteria. In addition, accommodations performing beyond this minimum level are also supported with additional promotional opportunities in catalogues.

Adopting the good practices highlighted in the guide not only help hotels improve their environmental and social performance, they also make good business sense. Direct cost savings result by reducing energy and water bills. Effective hazardous waste management and water treatment provide for a safer working environment and decrease staff turnover. Conservation efforts help maintain the quality of a hotel's surroundings, thereby improving the overall experience for guests and increasing support from government officials and neighboring communities. Publicity about poor practices may damage a hotel’s reputation and lead to loss of business.

Hotels throughout the world have already shown the positive benefits of adopting practices outlined in this guide. For example, the Seattle Westin Hotel achieved an annual savings of $400,000 by changing incandescent bulbs to energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs and improving control mechanisms. The recycling program at the Banff Springs Hotel, in Canada, has cut waste by more than 85 percent. The Lapa Rios resort in Costa Rica maintains a 405-hectare (1,000 acre) private reserve as a buffer at the edge of the Corcovado National Park.

For a full over view of TOI members' supply chain management practices, please visit the TOI web site at

About the organizations:
The Center for Environmental Leadership in Business, a division of Conservation International, was formed in partnership with the Ford Motor Company to engage the private sector worldwide in creating solutions to critical global environmental problems in which industry plays a defining role. The Center promotes business practices that reduce industry's ecological footprint, contribute to conservation, and create business value for the companies that adopt them.

The Tour Operators' Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development is a network of 25 tour operators that have committed to incorporate environmental, social and economic sustainability principles into their business operations and work together to promote and disseminate practices compatible with sustainable development. The Initiative was developed and is supported by the United Nations Environment Program, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the World Tourism Organization. To find out more about the TOI, go to

Jason W. Anderson
The Center for Environmental Leadership in Business
[email protected]
(202) 912-1464

Giulia Carbone
United Nations Environment Programme
+ 33 1 44 37 14 68
[email protected]

Conservation International’s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business (CELB) provides a new forum for collaboration between the private sector and the environmental community. Created in partnership with Conservation International (CI) and the Ford Motor Company, CELB operates as a division of CI and is governed by a distinct executive board of leaders from the business and environmental communities-engaging the private sector worldwide in creating solutions to critical global environmental problems in which industry plays a defining role. For further information about CELB, please visit


Katrin Olson
[email protected]

 Photo credits for banner image: (Zebras in Botswana) © CI, Chris Brooks