08 Jan

Comment: Travelife's gold standard must be driven by consumer demand

Clear evidence shows that holidaymakers are starting to favour environmentally friendly hotels, so the industry must now deliver, says Abta's Nikki White

Last year was a memorable one for many reasons and thankfully a positive one as the economy and consumer confidence began to show signs of recovery.

This was also reflected overseas as we’ve seen many more hoteliers getting to grips with managing sustainability.

I often get asked how we know that sustainability really is important to customers and hoteliers. One way we see this is with Travelife, the Abta-backed international certification scheme.

In May last year Travelife passed the significant milestone of 1,000 members in more than 45 countries, all dedicated to improving how they manage their environmental and social impacts. By the end of the year, this had risen to more than 1,300 members.

Gold standard

The industry started Travelife to make positive change in the supply chain overseas. It is now widely recognised and actively sought out by the public. The Travelife logo is now displayed in the UK brochures of Thomas Cook, Tui Travel, Kuoni, Cosmos, Sunvil and Virgin Holidays, as well as in brochures of tour operators in Germany, Scandinavia, France, the Netherlands. It is also being displayed at each awarded hotel.

We continually assess the criteria for achieving Travelife awards to ensure that they are rigorous and can stand up to external scrutiny – this is critical to the credibility of the scheme.

In 2013 we developed new criteria that were approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. The awards are also only given to properties after they have been independently audited.

The fact that we now have 557 ‘gold’ properties worldwide is a tribute
to the hard work carried out by these properties.

Change for the better

For Travelife to have a successful future it must be driven by consumer demand and there
is growing evidence of this.

The latest Abta Consumer Trends survey revealed an increasingly clear message from consumers, that although they care about the environment they see holidays as a time to relax, rather than worry about the impact of their actions while they are away.

Instead, they see sustainability management as the travel industry’s responsibility and when booking they will seek out companies that have a better environmental and social record. They are also prepared to pay a little more to ensure this.

Unsurprisingly, 16-24-year-olds are the most likely to be prepared to pay a premium for a holiday with a company that can demonstrate a good environmental and social record.

With consumer awareness and confidence increasing, the next goal is to continue to motivate and support the industry in delivering better places and great experiences.

Nikki's comment was published by Travel Weekly.