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Promoting sustainability among the European tour operator sector through a business led approach

“SUSTOUR aims to foster the capacities and skills of 175+ tour operators (SME’s) to implement training, management systems, standards and solutions, which will improve their sustainable management and performance and open up new market opportunities. SMEs from all EU countries will be invited to benefit from SUSTOUR. Focus countries include The Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Portugal and Croatia. Travel agents and tour operators play a central role in the tourism industry. As intermediates between tourists and tourism businesses they can influence the choices of consumers, practices of suppliers and the development in destinations. Through their unique position they can make an important contribution to the protection of the environment and culture, and in promoting social and human rights standards. A total of 627 tour operators and travel agents from 35 European countries have signed an agreement with SUSTOUR to participate in SME support programme. The latter runs from July 2022 until the end of June 2023 and supports the companies in either working towards a Travelife certification or improving their sustainability performance in specific areas, being carbon, plastic or supply chain management or the certification of shore excursions. The project has developed a number of tools to help tour operators and travel agents on their sustainability journey. These include the following: CARMACAL Beta: CARMACAL calculates the carbon footprint of complete holiday & travel packages, including emissions from flights and land transport, accommodation and activities. It provides the carbon footprint for 35 million flights, 1 million+ accommodations, 25 modes of transport and 21 emission-intensive activities. CARMACAL is governed by user inputs and a secure user database storing all calculations made by the user for analysis and reuse. The input information is processed using external existing web applications, data from partner resources and proprietary datasets. The processes are fed by information from a range of databases. CARMACAL beta is the upgrade of CARMACAL and offers a more user-friendly interface. Plastic Waste Reduction Toolkit: This toolkit gives tour operators and their suppliers (hotels) practical, hands-on and easy to understand guidance for switching to more sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic. The toolkit includes, among others, 11 decision trees for the reduction of plastic in the context of different businesses, rating charts for the impact of different plastic alternatives, standard operating procedures to implement more sustainable alternatives to plastic step by step, and starters manuals for a “plastic pollution free holiday”. Sustainability Codes of Good Practices for excursion providers: Codes of Good Practice have been compiled to guide sustainability practices of tourism companies executing activities so that negative impacts that may result from these activities are minimized, while maximizing the benefits they can generate for the people and places in a destination, as well as the rewarding experience enjoyed by activity participants. The Codes of Good Practice have been informed by the industry criteria of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) reference document for the travel sector. Relevant, existing Codes of conduct, guidelines, tips, and sustainability criteria were also considered, and the resultant Codes of Good Practice are intended to complement, not replace, existing guidance in the destination. Sustainability Codes of Good Practices for consumers: These Sustainability Codes of Conduct for consumers are intended to guide tourist behaviour in a range of global activity contexts, and to complement, not replace, existing codes of conduct in place. Tour and activity operators that seek to influence traveller behaviour in order to accelerate the positive impacts of tourism and minimise the negative ones may adopt these Codes of Conduct in whole. There is a set of general “Traveler Tips” as well as Codes of Conduct for specific tourism activities. “How this Good Practice could be used/ transferred?