Michel Lemay, Vice-President, Communications and Corporate Affairs and Chief Brand Officer of Transat A.T. Inc., is the new Chair of the Board of Directors of the Tour Operators’ Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development (TOI), a non-profit organization that fosters best practices in sustainable tourism development. Mr. Lemay, who has served on the TOI Board since 2008, was elected by member companies on December 2, in Madrid. Other board members include Vice-Chairman Andreas Müseler (REWE Touristik), Matthias Leisinger (Kuoni), Antero Kaleva (Aurinko), and Othman Cherif Alami (Atlas Voyages).
Founded in 2000, the TOI is a non-profit organization for tour operators and travel companies from around the world, regardless of their size and geographical location. Together they represent more than 50 million international travellers. With this initiative, tour operators are moving toward sustainable tourism by committing to the concepts of sustainable development in their operations.
TOI members are Accor (France), Andes Nativa (Chile), Atlas Voyages (Morocco), Aurinko-Suntours (Finland), Steppes Discovery (UK), Dynamic Tours (Morocco), Kuoni Travel Holding Ltd., NES Travel (Turkey), REWE-Touristik (Germany), Sahara Tours International (Morocco), Settemari (Italy), TLB Destinations (Lebanon), Transat A.T. Inc., Travel Walji’s PVT (Pakistan) and TUI Travel plc.
“The TOI provides a strong voice to travel companies who believe in the role of tourism as a driver of economic growth, poverty alleviation and environment and heritage protection,” said Mr. Lemay. “With the support of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), TOI member companies work together at promoting the best practices in sustainability and corporate responsibility.”
Transat introduced a comprehensive sustainable tourism and corporate responsibility program in 2007 (see www.resp.transat.com). In 2011, Air Transat, a wholly-owned business unit, was ranked first worldwide (long-haul category) by the environmental performance indicator “Atmosfair Airline Index” for its responsible management of greenhouse gas emissions, and its headquarters received a LEED-EB Platinum certification. Also in 2011, Transat began implementing a program to combat child sex tourism, in partnership with Canadian NGO Beyond Borders. Transat also supports sustainable tourism projects that generate economic activity and jobs, with a program put in place in 2007. To date, the company has supported 15 projects in 10 countries. Mr. Lemay was recently awarded a Green Living Award for his contribution to sustainable tourism.