The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), The Netherlands Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI), and Travelife have kicked off their co-operation with a series of training courses for tour operators and advisors. The trainings took place following the signing of the three-party Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between CBI, PATA and Travelife on May 18, 2014 in Zhuhai, China at the PATA Annual General Meeting.
At the PATA headquarters in Bangkok, Travelife trained 15 regional tour operators, sustainability advisors, and auditors. These advisors and auditors will instruct PATA members who wish to work towards sustainability. In separate two-day training programmes, more than 20 Asian tour operators learned how to integrate sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) principles as part of their normal businesses practices. Furthermore, a regional working group will be formed in order to jointly develop Asia-specific implementation tools and suppliers standards.
In Yangon, more than 80 Myanmar travel companies, 60 hotels, and 18 PATA members joined three 2-day training courses organised in co-operation with the Union of Myanmar Travel Association (UMTA) and the Myanmar Hoteliers Association. As part of its Tourism Asia programme (2014-2017) CBI will work closely with local and national associations in Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Mongolia to promote sustainability among their members.
CBI, an agency of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, encourages imports from developing countries by enhancing the capacity of individual companies and business support organisations. In the frame of its Tourism Asia programme, supporting the sustainable growth of tourism is a key CBI objective. CBI will facilitate PATA in its sustainability objectives through training and capacity building.
Ester Kruk, CBI Senior Programme Manager Asia, said, “Compliance with international CSR standards will increasingly become a condition of international business engagement. I am delighted to see such strong interest from Asian companies.”
PATA wishes to support its members in implementing social and environmental responsible business practices. The Association unites more than 700 leading travel companies in the Asia Pacific region and has chapters in 41 Asia Pacific destinations and key source markets.
PATA CEO Martin Craigs, said, “PATA forecasts that international visitor arrivals into Asia* will grow at 6.3% per year between 2013 and 2018 to exceed the 516 million mark by 2018. With Travelife internal procedures in place, tour operators and travel agents will be able to combine growth with sustainable, measurable practices. Through the strong commitment and co-operation between leading PATA members we will be able to set an example for the industry at large.”
Travelife is a comprehensive programme initiated by European travel associations to help travel companies and their suppliers achieve sustainability through training, management, reporting and external recognition and certification.
Naut Kusters, Manager Travelife for Tour operators, said, “The commitment of PATA is a historic step towards a sustainable travel industry. It will spread global CSR and sustainability standards and best practices amongst Asian tour operators. It will provide direction to committed tour operators and recognition for front runners.”
Note: * Asia is defined as including destinations in Northeast, South and Southeast Asia