22 december 2007
Dutch tour operators: save popular tourist destinations for the future
The Dutch initiative Travel Foundation Nederland includes some of the country's biggest tour operators with TUI Netherlands, Oad Reizen, Sunweb Vakanties and Sawadee Reizen, all founder members. Other tour operators are expected to follow soon, along with other companies involved in the Netherlands' foreign travel industry such as agencies, internet sites, insurance companies and airlines. Travel Foundation Nederland is closely linked to Travel Foundation UK, a charity that since 2003 has successfully helped the British travel industry to take effective action on sustainable tourism.
The Foundation's first target is the Egyptian Red Sea where it hopes to help ensure the survival of the coral reefs. Local tourist guides will be trained in techniques to minimise visitor damage to the sensitive reefs. Other projects targeted for support in the near future are the development of a local souvenir market in The Gambia and training of local tour guides in the Dominican Republic. The foundation also plans to develop supply chain projects, such as stimulating small farmers to produce vegetables and fruit for local hotels and all-inclusive resorts.
According to Ruud Klep, director of Travel Foundation Nederland, there was a clear need for the initiative within the Dutch travel industry. 'Lately there has been a lot of talk about sustainable tourism, but concrete projects have been limited. It is difficult for individual tour operators to make a difference, but together they can.'
Besides contributions from its partners, Travel Foundation Nederland hopes that in the future the majority of its funding will be from voluntary contributions from individual travellers. When booking a trip to a popular tourist destination, tourists will be invited by their tour operator to donate some extra money to help preserve the destination for the future. 'Consumers want to contribute to sustainability', says Klep, 'not only when they are shopping in the supermarket but also during their holidays. We offer them the possibility to do so.'
P+ webtip: Travel Foundation Nederland