27 May 2022

Sustainability Initiative: Rhodes Co-Lab is progressing

Interview with Melvin Mak, project lead for the Rhodes Co-Lab

TUI Group, TUI Care Foundation and the government of the Region of the Southern Aegean launched the "The Rhodes Co-Lab" project earlier this year. The aim is to develop Rhodes into an international beacon for the sustainable development of holiday destinations. The Co-Lab will work with the local tourism industry and international partners to find concrete solutions and develop and implement them on Rhodes. In addition, a think tank will be set up on Rhodes to bring together international experts and strengthen and further develop the sustainability transformation of the tourism sector.

We caught up with the project lead, Melvin Mak, Head of Sustainable Business Transformation at TUI, to find out the latest developments.

We launched the Rhodes Co-lab earlier this year, what steps have been taken since then?

It was a very exciting moment to launch the Rhodes Co-Lab in January with our other two partners and outline the innovative project concept. From that point on we started working on the strategy phase with the support of PwC Greece. An extensive piece of desk research has taken place looking at best practices around the world, various frameworks, the application of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in tourism, current plans on Rhodes/the South Aegean/Greece and how this all relates, interlinks and feeds into the Rhodes Co-Lab concept.

Another key development is our stakeholder engagement work on Rhodes. We interviewed a variety of stakeholders on the island to understand their perspectives, interests and expectations of the project and themes. This project can only be successful when we work closely with local stakeholders and actively involve them in the Co-Lab. We value their input. These conversations have supported the creation of a very useful stakeholder map to inform next steps.

What can we look forward to over the coming months, what are some of the upcoming milestones?

Our strategy development work is now accelerating, thanks to the input from the two fundamental pieces of work finalised. The focus is now on defining our key ambitions together with the Region of Southern Agean and TUI Care Foundation, on developing KPIs and the implementation plan.

A huge milestone in the project will be a stakeholder event on Rhodes planned for July – where we will present the work to date, get further stakeholder input and get the next phase of the project in motion. In the coming months we will also establish a local team based on Rhodes.

You were also involved in the TUI Sustainability Hackathon with lots of great ideas generated, will any of the ideas be part of this project? How will the broader business be involved in the project?

We are very keen to have all areas of the business involved in this exciting opportunity. We are setting up an internal TUI SteerCo with representatives from across the business to help guide, connect and be involved in testing the Co-Lab ideas. We will bring the TUI Sustainability hackathon ideas into this working group as well.