Sustainability Through Leadership
Tourism has become one of the world’s largest and fastest growing industries. International tourist arrivals surpassed 1 billion for the first time in history in 2012, and the UN World Tourism Organisation now predicts the number to increase by 3-4% in 2013.
With 30% of the world’s exports of services (US$ 1 trillion a year) and 45% of the total services exports in developing countries, tourism is one of the sectors with the greatest potential for contributing to sustainable development and to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). However, at the same time tourism can also have detrimental effects on the environment and local cultures and communities.
At Kuoni we have been striving for over ten years now to enhance the positive impact of tourism on people and the environment and simultaneously minimise its negative ramifications. We believe that the company can make a major contribution to ensuring sustainable tourism development within its scope and the resources at its disposal.
As many other companies around the world have also found, the process of integrating Corporate Responsibility (CR) into Kuoni’s overall business operations has not always been an easy process. The whole CR debate has moved on substantially in recent years. Rather than embarking on isolated individual projects and initiatives, current CR thinking advocates the increasing integration of such activities into the core business of companies.
Kuoni has extensively integrated its Corporate Responsibility activities into its overall business strategy over the last ten years. On the basis of the overall Group CR strategy for 2012-2014, the CR risk assessment and the subsequent definition of the materiality matrix, the focus issues for corporate responsibility within the Kuoni Group are:
1. its employees;
2. sustainable supply chain management;
3. sustainable products;
4. human and labour rights;
5. natural resources and climate change and
6. governance and organisation.
Looking back at the key CR goals we set for the 2012 reporting period, we have made substantial progress. We have, for example, trained 183 hotel employees on sustainability issues, audited 400 core hotel partners with respect to their social and environmental sustainability, out of which 33% have been awarded by a recognized sustainability label and conducted employee surveys which revealed that CR is among the top 5 things employees like the most about working at Kuoni.
A particular challenge has been achieving our goal of enhancing the marketing of sustainable hotels to our customers. The complexity of needs and target customers of our many different points of sales as well as the variety of sustainable tourism labels available has made creating a coherent marketing strategy a formidable task. However, we strongly believe that by supporting labels recognised as aligned to the Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria, we will be able to achieve this in the future.
We are proud to announce that Kuoni Specialists Benelux has been Travelife certified, as the first ever tour operator worldwide, while Kuoni Switzerland achieved the TourCert sustainability certification for the second year in a row.
In February 2013 we signed, as the first major tour operator, on to the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest and most widely embraced corporate citizenship initiative. Our Code of Conduct harmonises well with the ten UN Global Compact Principles on human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. As participants in the UN Global Compact, we are committed to incorporating the initiative and its principles into our strategy and culture, communicating them to our stakeholders and engaging in projects which advance the broader development goals of the United Nations.
In our environmental stewardship, there has been excellent progress in the action plan on issues related to water and tourism as well as in our carbon reporting which now encompasses all leisure travel operations. Moreover, we have increased the sales of the myclimate CO2 compensation tickets by 465% since 2009, resulting in 12.7 thousand metric tonnes that have been compensated by Kuoni’s customers in Switzerland. A full listing of our progress is available here.
Of special note is the publication of Kuoni’s Statement of Commitment on Human Rights based on the UN Guiding Principles and the completion of a pilot assessment on human rights impacts in Kenya, which resulted in 15 commitments and follow-up actions by Kuoni on labour issues, distribution of economic benefits, children’s rights and community impacts. We look forward to further pursuing the activities outlined in the Human Rights Impact Assessment in the coming years.
Through these commitments we are putting sustainability at the heart of everything we do. We acknowledge and live up to our responsibility to support a sustainable development in tourism, for ourselves and for all our stakeholders, now and in the future.