Since the formation of TUI Travel PLC in September 2007 our vision for sustainable development has been to Make Travel Experiences Special whilst minimising our environmental impact, respecting the culture and people in our destinations and offering real economic benefit to local communities.
In that period, sustainability has come to be regarded as a serious business issue across our Group, with many brands making it an integral part of business processes, supplier operating standards and performance metrics.
With a firm commitment to Responsible Leadership at Board level, I am pleased with our achievements to date and acknowledge that we are at the beginning of a long journey. Although we are a tour operator, we also have a fleet of 146 aircraft to take our customers on holiday. With this comes a significant environmental footprint to manage.
Today, there is no alternative to jet fuel. The viability of second generation biofuels is still a considerable number of years off. We must, therefore, seek reductions in our carbon footprint by making a significant investment in new technology, such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner which will have exceptional environmental performance. At the same time we will pursue all other avenues for reducing CO2 emissions, having committed to reducing carbon emissions across our operations by 6% by 2014.
In addition to our internal programmes we are strong advocates for sustainability within the leisure travel sector. We are supportive of the inclusion of aviation in the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme, but believe there should be a global emissions trading framework for aviation which channels monies raised from auctioning emissions allocations into environmental solutions.
We also support the UK Government’s consultation to replace UK Air Passenger Duty with a per plane tax, and the introduction of the UK Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency (CRC) legislation – such taxes and incentives reward and drive carbon efficiency.
The opportunity for TUI Travel is to refine our understanding of the strategic risks and value that sustainable development can create and to demonstrate Responsible Leadership in the way we address them. We have already experienced a range of business benefits from sustainability management, including cost efficiencies, quality improvements and the enhanced engagement of customers, colleagues and suppliers.
Together with my management team, I look forward to futher integrating sustainability into our businesses' strategic priorities and planning.
There is a significant expectation placed on TUI Travel by all our stakeholders to integrate consideration of environmental and social impacts into our operations. More than 90% of our customers said they expect their holiday company to work to tackle climate change and support destination communitiesi. They place their trust in us to do this and it’s in our interests to deliver, communicating with them what we are doing and trying to achieve.
I am pleased to report a number of significant initiatives that illustrate our continued commitment to Responsible Leadership in our areas of focus – Carbon Management, Destinations, Our Colleagues and Our Customers.
Fuel efficiency initiatives across our Group airlines have produced a 34,000 tonne CO2 reduction. By appointing Environment Managers in both Thomson Airways and TUIfly Nordic (the first leisure airline to have achieved certification to ISO14001, the environmental management system standard), we are better geared still to make further progress on our environmental challenges.
We are also making good progress on environmental and social issues with our destination suppliers. The Travelife Sustainability System that serves our industry has been rolled out across our Mainstream Sector, with 400 supplier audits carried out in 2009. TUI Northern Region has introduced environmental and social contractual standards for accommodation suppliers. These changes make a clear statement to our suppliers that they too must remain committed to sustainability if they are to continue to work with us. Working with our wider destination stakeholders, TUI Central Europe launched the industry initiative Futouris, which focuses on climate and biodiversity protection and the promotion of educational programmes.
Engaging our colleagues in sustainability is a continuous process. Our belief in Responsible Leadership speaks volumes about how we expect each and every one of us to integrate sustainability thinking into our individual business behaviour. This year, 75 senior managers from across the Group had the opportunity to attend an offsite leadership development programme in Heliconias, Costa Rica, in collaboration with one of our Activity Sector businesses. The senior managers worked alongside a community to help them develop an ecotourism business. The experience concentrated the minds of managers who will be highly influential in the future of our business alongside the sustainability champions we already have across the Group.
Our focus on sustainable development as a serious business issue, key to our ongoing and future success, is firmly illustrated by the appointment of Dermot Blastland, presently Managing Director TUI UK & Ireland, to the new role of Group Sustainable Development Director from 01 Oct 2010 onwards. Dermot’s focus will be on driving meaningful sustainability performance as our business moves into the next decade.