First tour operators in South East Asia to comply with UNEP-supported Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria
June 23, 2015, Bangkok – Khiri Travel and EXO Travel have become the first tour operators in South East Asia to receive the Travelife Certified award. The award was handed out by UNEP’s Programme Officer on Sustainable Consumption and Production, Ms Janet Salem, and PATA CEO Mario Hardy; and is in recognition of the long-term efforts and championing of these companies regarding sustainability and corporate social responsibility. The award was received by the Khiri Travel country branches in Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam and by the EXO country branches in Cambodia and Vietnam.
Ms Salem from UNEP said, “The Travelife Certified award plays an important role in identifying examples of how business success, client satisfaction, and sustainability can go hand in hand. Tour operators worthy of Travelife’s high standards can pave the road for other companies in Asia to follow as to make a real difference for the industry at large.”
Travelife, which was originally established with the support of European travel associations, is the leading international sustainability certification in the travel sector. More than 35 national travel associations are promoting the scheme to their members including associations in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America.
The awarded companies comply with more than 200 criteria, related to an operators’ office management, product range, supply chain and customer information. The Travelife standard covers ISO 26000 Corporate Social Responsibility themes, including environment, biodiversity, human rights, and labour relations, and is formally recognised as in full compliance with the UN- supported Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria.
Naut Kusters, manager of Travelife for Tour Operators said, “I am delighted that EXO Travel and Khiri Travel are the first South East Asian companies who fully comply to the Travelife Certified criteria. The awarded companies are the frontrunners. They are also the first tour operators in South East Asia to comply with the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria. More and more Asian tour operators are taking an active approach towards sustainability. Since 2012 we have already trained over 200 Asian tour operators who are now working step by step towards sustainability.”
PATA CEO Mario Hardy added, “PATA forecasts that international visitor arrivals into Asia will grow at 6.3 percent on average per year between 2015-2019, well above the Asia Pacific average annual growth of 5.3 percent. With Travelife internal procedures in place, tour operators and travel agents will be able to combine growth with sustainable, measurable practices.”
Khiri Travel CEO Willem Niemeijer noted, “With growing social and environmental issues, business needs to lead by example by implementing sustainability in everything it does. This is true in particular for the travel and tourism industry, being the largest employer in Asia (over 65 million direct jobs) and delivering its services, often in developing nations, to visitors from around the world. Spread of the tourism dollar and environmental awareness is not just a good cause, it’s imperative for the industry’s long term success.”
EXO Travel CEO Olivier Colomès said “At EXO Travel, we are really proud to have reached this important milestone; as a major company it meant getting over 300 team members throughout Cambodia and Vietnam committed to the comprehensive and demanding requirements of Travelife. This latest achievement is the continuation of a great adventure that started 3 years ago under the guidance of the EXO Foundation, and which has become a continuous commitment integrated into our daily routines. Everyone involved in the process can look upon the certification with pride, and we are excited to take what we have learned here across all of our destinations. Most of all, we are enthusiastic about spearheading change across the sector at large, and taking a pioneering role in the movement towards truly responsible travel.