In the interview Thomas Ellerbeck, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and Hannah de Blaeij, Programme Manager, discuss the opportunities for the new TUI Care Foundation and its goals over the next few years.
Hannah, Thomas, why is the TUI Care Foundation involved in farming projects in Tanzania and recycling projects in Curacao?
TE: Tourism is a key development driver in many countries around the world. Not only is it significant for the economy, it can also have a positive impact on education opportunities, social standards and environmental standards. And it can make an enormous contribution to societal development. To achieve these things we have to focus on developing the local tourism sector in a sustainable way. After all, socially, economically and ecologically intact regions appeal to tourists and have a better long-term chance of being successful. That’s in the interest of the local communities and in the interest of the guests.
HdB: You can’t take holidaymakers to a country and ignore the living conditions of the locals. We want to create a basic framework that benefits everyone.
The TUI Care Foundation has been involved in a lot of projects since 2011. Now it’s being restructured. What’s going to change?
HdB: The TUI Care Foundation and a lot of the companies in the global TUI Group have developed many valuable projects in the past, but these have all been stand-alone projects, so it hasn’t been possible to exploit their full potential.
TE: Many TUI guests want to get involved in supporting projects that help people at the holiday destinations. The TUI Care Foundation is now pooling resources and stepping up its activities because by working together we can achieve so much more. We’re increasing international know-how sharing so that we can work more effectively and transfer concepts that are successful in one country to other countries with the help of strong partners. We’ve also clarified the main areas that we will be working in during the process.
What are these areas going to be?
TE: We have three main fields of engagement. The first is supporting children and young people. We provide them with new perspectives by developing education and training programmes. Secondly, we’re committed to sustaining an intact nature and environment and, thirdly, we want to invest in innovative projects that improve people’s lives and support the long-term success of the local tourism sector. The idea is that the people who live at the holiday destinations should benefit from tourism. Participation, advancement and equal opportunities are also important to us. It’s essential to establish a social balance, and we want to achieve that with the help of our guests.
Why did you decide to set up the foundation as the framework for these activities?
TE: Companies can also initiate change, and we’ve already done that in many respects. But we want to bring about long-term change and emphasise certain aspects that have impacts extending beyond the company and even beyond our sector. And as a foundation we have articles of association that allow us to be independent and serve the public good.
HdB: All donations to TUI Care Foundation are directly invested in the projects and TUI pays all of the foundation’s administrative costs. We have experts at our foundation who are familiar with the challenges and opportunities associated with the type of work we do. That’s important for our project partners around the world, and the guests who want to get involved in our projects.
How do you find the projects that you support?
HdB: We have the advantage, the expertise and the dedication of more than 70,000 TUI employees around the world. They are effectively networked, they know what challenges exist and where help and support will make a difference. They’re enthusiastic ambassadors for our foundation and they get involved in our projects at their destinations. We also have many long-standing partnerships with strong organisations.
How much money are you going to be spending every year and who decides what it will be spent on?
TE: TUI’s objective is to spend ten million euros every year from 2020 on projects that serve the good cause - and the majority of those funds will go to TUI Care Foundation. Funds will be provided by TUI Group but also by holidaymakers who are willing to support good causes in holiday destinations. When people travel abroad on holiday they often want to do something to help the local community or support a local initiative. We at the TUI Care Foundation support them in doing this. We can guarantee to our guests that their donations will be invested in worthwhile projects that we have chosen carefully and support locally. An Advisory Board evaluates the proposed projects and an independent Board of Trustees is responsible for decisions on the appropriation of funds. We publish information about all our projects on our website to promote transparency because transparency encourages trust.
How do you judge whether a project is successful or not?
TE: Success can be judged according to all kinds of different criteria. Basically, a good project is a project that can be emulated elsewhere. Ideally, projects should also be self-financing or so good that they attract other partners, because then we can move on to new projects. Obviously we regularly review our programmes to see whether we need to adapt them. Sometimes we have to take off our ‘European glasses‘ - and our local 'ambassadors' are the best people to tell us that. They’re familiar with the locals, their needs and their culture. Our network is one of our biggest strengths.
Can you give me and example of a successful project?
HdB: In Zanzibar we support an academy for local tour guides by providing student grants and equipment funding. The academy now provides tours and offers its courses to other businesses, so it’s already generating its own revenue. The people who study at the academy have work opportunities and at some time in the future the academy will be self-financing. It’s a kind of modern social entrepreneurship project.
What other projects are you involved in?
TE: In La Geria on Lanzarote we renaturalised an area of land and turned it into a vineyard. It provides work to disabled people that allows them to feel they are making a contribution to the island’s economy because the organic wines are sold via the hotels and restaurants. Tourists also visit the vineyard to find out about this special wine making project. So, you see, it covers many different facets of sustainability. Sustainability is about improving people’s living conditions. And it’s about treating our environment and natural resources with respect. These are the underlying principles of the TUI Care Foundation’s activities. We also hope to inspire many of our guests and other tourists to get involved in our projects around the world.