27 February 2023

Sustainability certifications are high on TUI's Agenda

Labels and certifications are common in many different sectors and contexts – from the Fair Trade, one of the most recognised sustainability labels globally, to the EU organic seal for food. The travel industry also has numerous certification schemes. For TUI, these are a key driver for more sustainable tourism.

"Certifications give travelers reassurance and orientation," explains Ian Corbett, Head of Sustainability in TUI Group's international sustainability team. "However, we also know there are certifications of varying quality in the tourism sector. That’s why we have been working with the GSTC, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, for our hotels since 2012. We only accept sustainability certifications that are recognised by the independent GSTC and meet its strict standards."

High standards worldwide

The GSTC standards are based on detailed criteria. Hotels that want to achieve certificationare audited by independent, specialist companies, for example Travelife (here is an article on what such an audit looks like at a Robinson Club). So even if hotel guests do not know every certification scheme, they can be reassured: TUI will only include hotels in its portfolio as sustainability-certified if they meet the GSTC standards.

Advantages for partner companies – and the environment

Besides the recognition and more transparency for travelers, certifications also have advantages for hotels or tour operators: "Our sustainability certified hotels clearly signals hotels that demonstrate social and environmental good practice, but in most cases these hotels offer a plus in terms of quality for guests, too. This ranges from better trained employees or more emphasis on locally sourced food, to the avoidance of harmful pollutants in cleaning agents, or respect for local biodiversity. Our customers recognise this extra quality, as the high guest satisfaction at hotels with sustainability certification in our portfolio proves," adds Ian Corbett.

An analysis of 300 certified hotels also proved the significantly increased environmental performance compared to non-certified accommodation: On average, CO2 emissions are 10 percent lower, 24 percent less waste is produced per guest night and freshwaterconsumption is reduced by 19 percent. Higher, however, are the shares of green energy (+23 percent) and employees from the destination country (+9 percent).

Close cooperation with partners

A large number of TUI's own hotels and resorts are now certified. In addition, TUI’s hotel partners – on the basis of joint contracts with TUI – are also working proactively towards certification (we had 1,126 hotels with sustainability certifications in 2022). This does mean a certain amount of time and organisational effort for the hotel management, says Ian Corbett. However, it is the task of the TUI teams to strengthen the hotel partners and to support them: "The certification is not a check that’s looking for some perfect condition. Rather, we understand the process as an offer to hotels to focus more on sustainability and to show them concrete steps towards it. Clearly, there’s a minimum standard to be achieved, but just as important is a commitment to continuous improvement."

What started in the hotel sector with the GSTC cooperation is now continuing for tours and activities. TUI has recently become the first company in the world to apply GSTC sustainability Criteria to experiences. We will share more about this soon.

An eye for the big picture

TUI has been committed to sustainability for more than 30 years – and ‘Driving certifications’ is one of the focus areas in the ‘Progress’ building block of the Group's Sustainability Agenda. Since 2015, TUI has delivered a total of 54 million holidays to hotels independently certified as sustainable. Ian Corbett from TUI's sustainability team hopes for a leverage effect: "We want to continue to be the industry leader in sustainability and change the tourism industry with our initiatives," Corbett summarises. "And the certifications are an important lever for this. After all, a hotel achieving a sustainability certification doesn't just benefit a TUI guest – but every traveler who chooses to stay there."

Driving certification in numbers:

GSTC Criteria themes: sustainability planning, maximise socio-economic benefits for the local community, enhance cultural heritage and reduce impacts to the environment

Hotels with sustainability certifications in 2022

7.9 million
Customers stayed in hotels with sustainability certifications in 2022

16 million
Customers to choose hotels meeting global sustainability criteria per year by 2030

54 million
Holidays already delivered to hotels with sustainability certifications since 2015

TUI Hotels & Resorts achieving sustainability certifications by 2030