From strength to strength: The Travel Foundation's journey to transform tourism

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From strength To strength

The travel Foundation’s journey to transform tourism

Climate change and inequity are two of the biggest challenges facing our world and the future of the global tourism industry. Tourism can be part of the solution, but the sector must evolve and business as usual is no longer a viable paradigm.

Unfortunately, much of tourism today continues with a narrow fixation on economic impact, especially growth in arrivals, overnight stays, and visitor spending, with the benefits increasingly concentrated among the few at the top of the value chain. Tourism is set to double in size by 2050 and while this will no doubt bring more jobs and investments, what will be the real cost for destinations? All too often, it is local residents who lose out through loss of housing and access to land and resources,

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overcrowding, pollution and the destruction of natural environments, exacerbated by the impacts of climate change which tourism has played no small part in fuelling.

Change is already underway and the clarion call is getting louder every day. Travel and tourism will be an important part of a greener, fairer world. We already know that success must be redefined, and the solutions we need are already out there. We see more and more people stepping up to take action and show the way.

The Travel Foundation’s role as it moves into its third decade is to support this growing community of leaders and changemakers to demonstrate what is possible, to do tourism differently, in balance with community needs and the environment. to adapt and thrive.

Tourism that provides the greatest benefits in every destination around the world, so that their communities and environments can thrive.

For communities: better places to live and equitable access to benefits

For the environment: operating within nature’s boundaries, reducing carbon emissions and protecting local ecosystems.

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tourism has enormous power to benefit destinations across the world, enabling communities and environments to thrive.
“We have been partners of the travel Foundation for almost half of its history, and we recognize the leadership they have had in the critical processes of systemic change in tourism at a global level and the support to our partners and us in adapting models for Mexico and Latin America.
Congratulations on these first 20 years.”
Vicente Ferreyra, Founder and CeO, sustentur

"What if the new models of governance for DMOs start within our organizations? What if collaboration and transparency begin with us? What if we redefine success, aiming for a long-term positive impact? The Travel Foundation has been our closest partner, deepening into these questions and inspiring us to shape the futures we envision for the world."

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Marco Lucero, Cuidadores de Destinos.

Our role

Creating a community of leaders

We promote collective action in the tourism industry, transforming the travel and tourism sector through global leadership and united impact. Using our expertise and extensive network, we bring together forward-thinking destination management organisations that share similar issues to advance knowledge, develop new solutions and share best practice. We also team them up with leading global businesses and innovators, supporting organisations to work together for change at global scale and in the context of specific destinations.

Be part of our leadership community.

We are a practical organisation and unrivalled team of experts, equipped with the experience and know-how to strengthen the hand of destination managers and tourism businesses to change how tourism works. We act as a bridge between the industry and the places it operates in, providing education and inspiration, facilitating change and ensuring a net-positive impact emerges in spite of complex and competing agendas.

Specifically we:

• Broaden representation, ensuring a wider group of stakeholders can input to plans and unlock new possibilities for action,

• Collate, interpret, and communicate the data, enabling a better understanding of the issues,

• Educate stakeholders at all levels and facilitate peer-to-peer learning networks,

• Help identify, prioritise and implement solutions for real impact, and

• Support organisations to change policies, products and practices.

Ultimately, the changes we help create in destinations and within global companies become lighthouse examples for the future of tourism.

Let us help you create the change you want to see.

Advocating for wider change

We know that some of the urgent solutions we need are hindered by current policies, funding priorities and governance structures. So, we help shift mindsets, building an evidence-based business case and advocating for change. Through our industry reports, our ground-breaking research such as the Invisible Burden and Envision 2030, our solutions-oriented events and our global networks, we amplify the message and build momentum for the necessary transformation of tourism. Upcoming: a white paper focused on moving the industry towards accelerated action on climate justice.

Sponsor or get involved in our research and events.

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supporting you to make meaningful change

20 years of impact

We’ve been working to improve the impacts of tourism since 2003. During that time, we have worked in 36 countries around the world, providing support and advice to tourism destinations, building capacity to create a better tourism product, researching and exposing the impacts of tourism and implementing initiatives that benefit local residents and protect the environment.

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1 Antigua & Barbuda 2 Austria 3 Barbados 4 Brazil 5 Cape Verde 6 Croatia 7 Cyprus 8 Dominican republic 9 Egypt 10 France 11 The Gambia 12 Germany 13 Greece 14 Grenada 15 Jamaica 16 Kenya 17 mauritius 18 Mexico 19 morocco 20 Sardinia 21 South Africa 22 Sri Lanka 23 Saint Lucia 24 Thailand 25 Trinidad & Tobago 26 Tunisia 27 Turkey 28 Laos 29 Spain 30 Honduras 31 USA 32 Scotland 33 England 34 Canada 35 Finland 36 Netherlands 4 1 8 3 25 23 5 6 7 9 10 32 33 35 30 31 34 11 12 36 13 14 15 16 18 19 29 20 21 17 22 26 27 28 24 2

the timeline below shows just some of the highlights from our work over the past 20 years.


our report (created with partners), ‘Envisioning Tourism in 2030 and beyond’ modelled how the tourism sector can continue to grow and thrive whilst also meeting its commitments to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.


Our work supporting six US destinations to create destination stewardship strategies and plans marked the first time we developed a significant programme of activity in this country.

We worked with leading destination Visit Scotland to support climate action across the Scottish tourism industry, including supporting the creation of regional and national action plans and working with international tour operator The Travel Corporation and Scottish Enterprise to explore how businesses and destinations can work together to reduce emissions across tourism.


We co-created and co-wrote The Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism a world leading initiative to foster collaboration across the sector led by UNWTo

We supported Saint Lucia and the maldives to improve resource efficiency and reduce carbon emissions across the supply chain as part of a UNEP project, ‘Transforming Value Chains’.


We joined with six other organisations to create the Future of Tourism Coalition, creating a shared vision that puts local communities at the heart of tourism.


our pioneering ‘Destinations at risk: The Invisible Burden of Tourism’ report (created with partners) uncovered the hidden costs of tourism and the negative impacts they can have on destinations.


We increased the number of tourists spending money outside their hotel in Jamaica, providing better information to tourists and improving livelihoods in a large craft market.


With support from the Dutch Travel Association, ANVr, we developed and delivered an online training programme for tour guides to improve the impact of tours, reaching over 700 guides across 17 countries.

2016 our project in mombasa gave local beach-sellers new skills and opportunities to sell their goods whilst reducing tourist hassle.


our ground–breaking study, with TUI and PwC, into the impact of tourism in Cyprus was the most comprehensive impact assessment ever undertaken for a tourism operation in destination.


As a global first, we enabled mandatory sustainability standards to be introduced in Cyprus hotels as a result of our destination partnership with the Cyprus Tourism organisation.

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We facilitated the creation of a destination council, on the main tourism island of Sal in Cabo Verde and implemented a range of initiatives including a code of practice for tour guides and training to improve hotel resource efficiency.


our white paper ‘Survival of the Fittest’ set out the business case for change.


We launched ‘Taste of Fethiye’ in Turkey, enabling local farmers to supply hotels, supported by a groundbreaking collaboration between leading tour operators.

those wishing to renew tourist guide licences.


We launched a research project with Forum for the Future and leading UK outbound tourism industry partners called ‘Tourism 2023’ to understand what the future might hold and how to shape it towards a more successful future.


Projects to introduce entrance fees for village tours in The Gambia and Kenya led to an 800% increase in local incomes.


The Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative (CSTI), a non-profit NGO, was established with support from the Travel Foundation, marking the beginning of an enduring partnership.


We launched our resource efficiency in hotels programme, which reached over 360 businesses and 3,500 staff across 14 difference countries.


our research programme began with ‘making all-inclusives more inclusive’ in Tobago.


our training project for tour guides taking tourists to see endangered whale sharks in Mexico was adopted by local government as a mandatory requitement for all


The ‘Gambia is Good’ project brought economic benefits to over 1,000 farmers by helping market their produce to local tourist hotels.


The Travel Foundation was launched as a UK charity, the first industryfunded initiative of its type anywhere in the world.

For more case studies from our projects visit our resources hub: travel Foundation (

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Research and thought leadership CAse STUDY:

Envisioning Tourism in 2030 and beyond.

This major research project sought to understand what a growing, thriving Net Zero visitor economy would look

Impact by numbers:

◗ o ur ‘Envisioning Tourism in 2030 and Beyond’ report gained 112 media mentions worldwide, with a potential reach of nearly 400 million.

◗ In 2023, we also undertook research with Leeds Beckett University which engaged 24 destinations in exploring the challenges and enablers for climate action.

like and how tourism could get there. Working with CELTH, Breda University of Applied Sciences, the European Tourism Futures Institute, and the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions, alongside other partners, we modelled different decarbonisation scenarios across transport and accommodation with the aim of providing a positive vision of a growing visitor economy where emissions are reduced to virtually zero.

The initial findings highlighted that there is only one scenario compatible with this aim. With global tourism set to double in size

by 2050 from 2019 levels, current strategies will fail to meet goals to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050. Instead, global policy makers and tourism organisations are urged to make significant investments and create incentives for the greenest forms of transport, and limits on the most polluting.

This ground-breaking report set the direction for tourism to achieve its current growth forecasts whilst also achieving 'Net Zero'. Even though it raised difficult questions, the report has drawn support from tourism organisations and gained media attention all around the world.

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“Reports and research like this from the travel Foundation and its collaborators are critical calls to action for governments, investors, consumers and donors. We all need to be on the same page. Collective actions and coalitions of the willing are fundamental building blocks for tourism futures.”
shaun Mann, senior tourism Specialist, World Bank Group

“It was valuable to be included as partner with the travel Foundation in helping to shape and bring the 'Envisioning Tourism in 2030 and Beyond' report. As a destination, being able to work with the Foundation on work that bridges the global implications of local decisions for destinations is critical to helping all of us make more informed decisions that lead to real collective action.”

What next?

Future planned research includes an investigation into climate justice and tourism.

The resulting report will aim to educate, inform, and inspire engagement with the topic, building a common understanding, as well as defining potential roles and actions for tourism organisations to meaningfully address the issue while centering the needs of vulnerable communities.

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Gwendal Castellan, Sustainable Destination Development Manager, Destination Vancouver

Collective Action CAse STUDY:

many of the urgent challenges facing the tourism sector require a collective response. This is certainly the case with climate action, where the complex, fragmented nature of our industry brings added challenges. With carbon emissions from our sector already accounting for around 8-11% of global emissions and tourism forecasted to continue to grow dramatically, it is vital that we all share a common goal and path forward.

The Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism

We co-created and co-wrote the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, a UN-led initiative which aims to foster collaboration and share tools and resources to

Impact by numbers:

◗ Around 800 tourism organisations from 90 countries have signed the Glasgow Declaration to date.

◗ 50 experts from across tourism come together in our Capacity Building Working Group, to understand and solve the challenges.

◗ over 750 tourism organisations have joined the Future of Tourism Coalition, a movement we co-created.

enable tourism organisations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve resilience to climate risk. The power of the Declaration lies in its ability to bring organisations together, sharing methodologies, solutions and building momentum for change.

Supporting action within destinations

We are also bringing organisations together to support the creation of plans and action. For example, working with Visit Scotland, we brought together three regional Dmos to facilitate peer-to-peer exchange and knowledge building on climate. As a result, the three destinations developed their own climate action plans and tourism representatives across Scotland received tools and training to support them in accelerating climate action. A similar project is supporting regional Dmos across the Netherlands.

the Future of tourism Coalition. In 2020, we joined forces with five other leading international tourism NGos to launch the ground-breaking Future of Tourism Coalition, which aims to create a shared vision for the future and enable organisations to work together to achieve it.

Vasilis-Foivos Axiotis, Vice Mayor for City Planning of the City of Athens, where we held our Future of tourism Summit focussed on climate action.

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“We want tourism that helps us to reach our goal of reducing carbon emissions by 61% by 2030. We are signing the Glasgow Declaration because we want to share our commitments with the world, and because we are optimistic that these goals can be achieved in the City of Athens.”

“The Travel Foundation has been a catalyst and motivator for us in our work on sustainability and climate. They have helped us with knowledge, inspiration, and connections with like-minded destinations. We are currently collaborating with them on several projects, including the Climate Action Capacity Building Program, with four destinations within the Netherlands. We believe that we can only solve global challenges together, and the Travel Foundation has been a trusted partner in doing just that.”

What next?

We’re planning to bring leaders together at a first Tourism Climate Leadership Summit, to learn from experts and each other and generate new ideas to help the tourism industry move more rapidly towards a Net Zero future.

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CAse STUDY: Creating value for communities.

Finding solutions through stewardship

Throughout our work, we find ways to improve the way that tourism is planned and managed, including through new technologies, methodologies, and approaches. For example, our extensive experience working in destinations has enabled us to develop a new approach to impact assessment that enables destination management organisations to understand and optimise the value of tourism for their communities. Unlike other impact measurement tools, our approach starts with the needs of the community and looks at the impact of tourism across economic, societal, cultural and environmental

Impact by numbers

◗ We have supported six leading destinations across the US to improve destination stewardship.

◗ We brought together stakeholders in five European destinations to establish a common set of priorities and solutions for tourism to ensure community needs are met.

◗ over 1000 diverse stakeholders participated in project planning workshops and webinars.

parameters, plus individual wellbeing.

The approach has been used successfully in Vail and Tahoe, USA, where we have joined with other organisations to support the development of leading destination stewardship plans. We enabled these

destinations to identify outcomes and indicators and to put in place measures that will enhance the value of tourism, increasing benefits, minimising negative impacts and prioritising the impact areas that are most important for their communities.

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“the travel Foundation provided us with expert services to analyse our sustainability efforts and identify gaps and vulnerabilities through a thorough and effective methodology. We are so grateful for their contribution to Vail's Stewardship Roadmap.”
Mia Vlaar, Economic Development Director, Town of Vail.

What next?

In 2024 we will launch our firstever Solutions Lab, supporting participating destinations to harness multi-disciplinary inspiration and connections, through the lens of areas like climate science, travel technology, and behaviour change. The goal: identify and/ or scale solutions to real-world challenges that can appeal to funders, accelerate positive transformation and address key roadblocks towards increased equity and climate positivity.

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“With global insights and innovative perspectives, The Travel Foundation team provided strategic direction to support our team’s shift to a holistic destination stewardship approach.”
Scott Bricker, Director Destination stewardship, travel Oregon


Training, Coaching and Mentoring

Big Up Small Business, Jamaica

Small businesses have long been the engine of the Jamaican economy and they are playing a vital role in the country’s economic recovery following the pandemic. Integrating these small, local businesses into the tourism offer helps to build strong local economies, enhance livelihoods and reduce inequality. However, for many such businesses, accessing the international tourism market is not easy. our Big Up Small Business project with the TUI Care Foundation supported small tourism businesses to ensure that their products and services are appropriate for international

Impact by numbers:

◗ Big Up Small Business supported around 400 individuals representing over 300 small tourism businesses in Jamaica.

◗ We offered 1,000 scholarships for a new sustainable tourism course we devised with Cornell University.

◗ 226 participants from over 150 organisations across 45 countries took part in our training for accommodation providers as part of the Transforming Value Chains project.

markets, improve their business and livelihoods, increase employment opportunities and further contribute to a healthy, thriving economy.

The project supported nearly 400 individuals representing over 300 small tourism businesses, providing in-person and on-line workshops, training guidebooks on topics

including risk assessment, pricing, product development and marketing. We also gave bespoke, in-depth support and mentoring to seven specially selected businesses. Participants benefitted from increased knowledge of tourist market needs, improved skills, better access to financing and increased profile and visibility with tourists.

Out Fish hut.

“The support received from Big Up Small Business has been great. the training sessions and guidance have helped us to consider all aspects of the business through a different lens.”
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The resources and training provided have helped me to structure the new tour that we will offer to cruise passengers, as well as with pricing and marketing. We’ve also established partnerships with hotels in Kingston to host their guests on tours of the Centre and are creating packages for those guests.''

What next?

We have partnered with Expedia Group to create a first-of-its kind climate action training program for destination management organisations. The online training program includes coaching, as well as peer-to-peer learning to equip destinations with the knowledge and skills to become a hub for climate action in their communities, create their own action plans and support industry partners to do the same. The aim is to create a community of Climate Champions, who can lead the way and catalyse action in their destination.

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"Our work with the Travel Foundation provided a solid base of research and planning for us to evolve our island home and destination. their research helped us develop a new stewardship position and laid the groundwork for goals and a vision to work toward."

“the travel Foundation are a trusted partner who have helped Scottish tourism make the right long lasting choices and supported our global learning.”

“My involvement with the travel Foundation spans more than ten years now, and in that time they’ve continuously led on progressive approaches to sustainability, particularly at the destination level. Over the past several years, I’ve watched as they’ve expanded their reach to tour operators, successfully bridging the gap between what’s both necessary and possible at the destination level to how that aligns with travel trade to ensure both parts are working successfully together to address the myriad of issues that we are facing today.”

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Brett Stawar, President & CEO Port Aransas Tourism Bureau & Chamber of Commerce
Lamb, Programme Manager at Scottish Enterprise.
“With global insights and innovative perspectives, The Travel Foundation team provided strategic direction to support our team’s shift to a holistic destination stewardship approach.”
Scott Bricker, Director Destination Stewardship, Travel Oregon

“At easyJet holidays we have ambitious sustainability commitments combined with an opportunity to do things differently. We see the Travel Foundation as the ideal partner for facilitating this within destinations, and we share the same aim to lead the charge here and demonstrate a new kind of relationship between businesses and destination communities.”

“Thanks to the entire Travel Foundation for its assistance this year on helping us think about the future of our programming. this was extremely valuable and we have what we need to navigate integration of these ideas into our destination development work."

“expedia group is proud to be partnering with the travel Foundation to launch an innovative capacity building program on climate and sustainability for destinations around the world. together we can create a more resilient and prosperous travel industry for generations to come.”

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"As we grow our organization through this social enterprise model, the trust that exists between 4Vi and the travel Foundation will allow us to achieve the aspirations and goals of ensuring that travel remains a force for good.”
Brian Cant, Vice President, Business Impact & Engagement, 4VI

We thank our past, present, and future supporters and partners.

Our current partners and funders:

4VI (formerly Tourism Vancouver Island)

10 or more

Barbados Tourism marketing Inc

Blue Bay Travel


Colorado Tourism Office

DestimED/ WWF mediterranean

Destination orkney Limited

Destination Vancouver

Dorset Council

easyJet Holidays

Expedia Group

First Rate Exchange


Global Sustainable Tourism Council

Gloucestershire Community rail Partnership

Holiday Extras


Lake Tahoe/CrEST

Leeds Beckett University

NBTC (Nederlands Bureau voor Toerisme & Congressen)


Oceanside/MMGY Nextfactor

Peak District & Derbyshire (mPDD)

Port Aransas Tourism Bureau and Chamber of Commerce

Scottish Enterprise

Sidmouth Town Council

State of Washington Tourism

Surrey University

The Energy and Water Agency

The European Bank for reconstruction and Development (EBrD)

The European Travel Commission (ETC)

The Travel Corporation



Tourism Association of Vancouver Island

Travel oregon

TUI Care Foundation

United Nations Environment

University of Edinburgh

Vail/MMGY Nextfactor

Visit California

Visit Finland

Visit Kent

Visit Scotland

Visit Temecula Valley

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Travel Foundation • From Strength to Strength 19 We are the catalyst to help you take action, a community of trailblazers and forward thinkers. Interested? In the first instance, please contact Graeme, our head of strategic partnerships. sign up for our e-newsletter Follow us on twitter and Linkedin Join our community

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