Back in September this year, we finalized a sustainable travelscan for one of the biggest Dutch tour operators – Corendon. Within the scope of this travelscan, we were able to supply Corendon with data to help them improve on the level of sustainability in their company as whole. Now we were happy to talk to Anne Jet Niermeijer, MVO Manager and CSR Manager of Corendon. In the interview she tells us how the Dutch tour operator incorporates sustainability in their offer, the benefits they gained from our sustainable travelscan and the importance of leading as a good example in sustainable tourism.
(1) Can you tell us a little bit about Corendon and the ways you incorporate sustainability in your offer?
Corendon is a Dutch tour operator that offers holiday package deals to our customers. Corendon was founded by Atilay Uslu in 2000. What most people don’t know is that Corendon comes from the word Korund, which is a ruby stone and is bordeaux red. Corendon started with selling holidays to Turkey and is still the biggest Turkey specialist in the Netherlands. Later, other destinations were added and we currently offer almost 40 destinations worldwide. In 2011 we started Corendon Dutch Airlines, with three Boeing 737-800 and we fly from six different airports in The Netherlands and Belgium. Corendon has always felt responsible for the impact it makes on the environment and the holiday destinations. In 2019 we launched our new sustainability and social responsibility strategy, in which we aim to incorporate our sustainable goals in our everyday business.
For example through the partnership with the TEMA foundation in Turkey where we’ve planted 415.000 trees over the past ten years. Customers had the possibility of buying a tree and compensating (part of) their CO2 emissions for their flight. We also signed the tourism plastic pledge in September 2019 and have a plastic reduction plan in place for our own organization. In November 2019 we introduced our new animal welfare policy for excursions. Over 550.000 wild animals suffer every year for the entertainment of tourists and we want to stop this. We are currently reviewing the excursions programmes at our destinations and will remove those in which wild animals are suffering. This means no more elephant rides, swimming with dolphins or visiting animals farms where animals are kept and bred to entertain tourists. Our next big project will focus on hotel accommodations to create a more sustainable offer on our website.
(2) bookdifferent.com was happy to do a sustainable travelscan for Corendon. What do you believe the benefits of this analysis are for you as a company? How can you use this green data to develop a more sustainable offer?
We didn’t know how many of our hotel partners actually had a sustainability certificate. We want to increase the number of sustainable hotels accommodations that we offer, but in order to do so, we need to know how many hotels have a certificate and how big the gap is. The data we received is very valuable for us and will help us to decide which destinations and hotels we will focus on to get certified. It also helps us to see the differences between countries and destinations and to define our plan of action for each destination.
The next step is to show the environmental impact of a holiday on our website. The aim is to be transparent about the CO2 emissions of each holiday, so customers can also take that into account when they book their holiday.
(3) Corendon is one of the biggest Dutch tour operators. With the increasing role of sustainability in all sectors, and especially in tourism, how important is it for the largest travel companies to lead as an example?
Very important. With great power comes with great responsibility and sometimes you have to lead the way. We care about the world and we feel responsible for the sustainable development of our destinations and the conservations of a livable world.
By making responsible choices ourselves and taking our clients along on our sustainable journey, we aim to guarantee that next generations can also enjoy all the beautiful destinations we visit today.
Next to setting the example, we also believe that working together in this is essential, not only with our partners, but also with other tour operators in the industry.
(4) Your offer includes a wide range of destinations and accommodations. What challenges come with incorporating sustainability in such a big offer?
The tourism industry is still one of the largest growing economies in the world today in revenue and employability. As a travel agency we are very proud of the positive impact we have on our destinations with our holidays. Not only do we ensure employability and economic growth, it connects people and cultures and empowers development of communities.
The tourism industry is changing; more and more agencies and accommodations are shifting towards more sustainable travel. Research shows that travelers believe sustainability is important, but research also shows that people are not always willing to pay extra money for more sustainable options or ways of travel. , Value for money is very important for us and our customers; we try to make traveling available for everyone, also people who have less to spend. But there’s a fine line between making money and making the world a better place.
Our biggest challenge regarding sustainable accommodations, is the fact that we don’t own the hotels and therefore cannot directly influence our value chain. Every hotel has different management and it takes time to communicate with them and to make changes.
Another challenge is the fact that innovation develops very slow in the aviation industry. There is no easy and fast solution when it comes to sustainable flying.
(5) When booking a trip on your website, how can conscious travelers see what places and hotels are the most sustainable? How do you communicate it to your customers?
In the description of the hotel accommodation we display information on the CSR policy, if the hotel has one. It is not possible for our customers to filter on sustainable hotels yet, but we are working on that, so they can make conscious choices when booking their holiday.
(6) To conclude: where do you see the sustainable tourism industry heading in the next few years?
Awareness around sustainable tourism is growing, especially within the younger generation. I believe this will have a positive impact on the way we travel in the future and the way people make choices about their holiday. I also believe that we do not have a choice. With the predicted growth of tourism, the impact it will have on destinations and the environment will also grow. We cannot just continue to grow in the way we did. The first step is to be more conscious about the resources we use; water, plastic, food and energy. For the long term, there has to be focus on more sustainable ways to travel. Innovations in the aviation industry such as hybrid electric flying and sustainable aviation fuel will develop further and hopefully will result in carbon free flying in the future.
Thank you Anne Jet for this interview! If you want to know more about Corendon, click here.