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Tour Operators launch new performance indicators to promote environment friendly tourism

LONDON/NAIROBI, November 2002 - The new report by the Tour Operators Initiative (TOI), a global network of tour operators supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in liaison with UNESCO and the World Tourism Organization, is helping to promote environment friendly and socially responsible tourism. The indicators, in the form of recommendations, represent one of the first "sectoral supplements" to the already established Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Reporting Guidelines (see below).

"The Tour Operators' Sector Supplement is a testament to the dedication of a diverse range of stakeholders," said Jan Jackson, Chair of the TOI, and Environmental Manager at British Airways Holidays. More than 30 organizations, from civil society groups to trade unions, local tourism boards, suppliers, and tour operating companies collaborated on the supplement. "This diversity enhances the credibility of the document," added Jackson. "It will lead to continued mutual learning in the tour operator sector as we begin to prepare sustainability reports."

By reporting on actions they have taken on the ground, the tour operators hope to help prevent the negative effects of tourism on local peoples. They also hope to encourage responsible use of natural resources, and prevent pollution and waste at travel destinations around the world.

"Virtually all dimensions of the tour operating business have environmental, economic, and social impacts," said Jacqueline Aloisi de Larderel, UNEP Assistant Executive Director. "What gets measured - and reported - gets managed," she said. "Through improved disclosure, tour operators can help transform an industry that is often the largest employer in some countries into a more sustainable enterprise."

The performance indicators released are divided into categories that reflect the life cycle of the 'holiday product'- from the planning stage to the development and delivery. They ask tour operators to describe joint actions taken with suppliers to support improvements in their environmental and social performance. Also, ways in which they raise consumer awareness of sustainable holiday-making, recruitment of local residents for management positions, and positive cooperation with concerned organizations and groups at the destination.

Through a feedback process, this pilot supplement will provide the GRI with valuable experience on how to incorporate sector-specific issues into its broader reporting framework.

Note to Editors

The GRI Guidelines contain the core indicators for sustainability reporting by all companies. They are designed to enable companies and other organizations to prepare comparable reports across the "triple bottom line" of their economic, environmental, and social performance. Recognizing that one size does not fit all, sector supplements are designed for use in combination with the Guidelines, to go beyond general sustainability issues and cover those issues specific to a particular sector. Both the Guidelines and the tour operators' supplement are being developed and field-tested within GRI's multi-stakeholder process, which includes business, finance, accountancy, non-governmental organizations, organized labour, and others.

The GRI was established in 1997 with the mission of designing globally applicable guidelines for preparing reports on the environmental, social and economic impact of corporate activities. More than 150 pioneering companies from around the world have already undertaken sustainability reporting using the GRI Guidelines. The GRI is an official UNEP collaborating centre

The tour operators' sector reporting supplement and a list of project participants are available online at www.toinitiative.org. The 2002 version of the GRI Guidelines is available at www.globalreporting.org.

Information about UNEP's work on tourism can be found at http://www.uneptie.org/pc/tourism/

For more information please contact: At the GRI, Mark Brownlie on tel +1 403 288 2131, brownlie@globalreporting.org, or the Global Reporting Initiative in Amsterdam on +31 20 531 00 00, email: info@globalreporting.org, website: www.globalreporting.org.

At UNEP, contact Robert Bisset, press officer, on +33.1.44371441, email: robert.bisset@unep.fr, or Giulia Carbone, UNEP TOI secretariat on tel +33-1-4437-1468, email giulia.carbone@unep.fr. In London from 11 to 14 November on +33-6-612-494576

UNEP Information Note 2002/28