TUI Group has teamed up with the Greek government to introduce a sustainable tourism lab.
The travel operator is working with the region of the Southern Aegean to develop the island of Rhodes into a global hub for the sustainable development of holiday destinations.
Its Co-Lab will work with the local tourism industry and international partners to find concrete solutions which will be developed and implemented on Rhodes.
A think tank will also be set up on the island to bring together international experts and strengthen the sustainability transformation of the tourism sector.
TUI Group CEO Fritz Joussen said: “Tourism brings many positive impacts. It is a force for good.
“Without tourism, destinations lack investment and direct spending by travellers. Without tourism, there is hardly any basis for economic prosperity in most destinations.
“As the largest economic sector in destinations, it also contributes to more social participation.
“The Co-Lab can serve as a laboratory for sustainable tourism of the future and strengthen and further develop these impacts. It will thus create role models and blueprints for other destinations.”
The Rhodes Co-Lab supports the sustainable tourism initiatives of the government of the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the South Aegean region.
It is also part of TUI’s long-term Sustainability Agenda.
Greece’s Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, marked the launch with a meeting to discuss the Co-Lab and its role for the international and Greek tourism industry.
All three partners are committed to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, the Paris Agreement and the EU’s goal to be climate neutral by 2050.
Mitsotakis said: “Greece is a country that is clearly turning a page. It’s leaving behind a decade of crises, of pain.
“And I think it’s a country that is really looking to embrace the challenges of the future.
“It is important to point out that in the United Nations sustainability goals, we do not just talk about environmental ecological sustainability, but also about social and economic sustainability.
“And we will work very hard to make this project a success.”
The official launch announced that the partners want to actively tackle the sustainability transformation in partnership and in a practical way, with small changes on the ground to have a big impact.
Co-Lab: Sustainable tourism transformation
The Rhodes Co-Lab marks the beginning of a sustainability transformation with significance far beyond Greece.
It claims to be the world’s first project where a top destination of this size is tackling its own transformation to more sustainability in such a comprehensive way.
The Co-Lab’s work is based on collaboration and exchange, not only with the local tourism industry but with the industry as a whole.
George Chatzimarkos, governor of the South Aegean region, said:”We have faced huge difficulties over the last decade, but we are proud to say that in the islands of our region we came out stronger, more confident and determined to succeed also in the future.
“Tackling the challenges ahead is a complex task and we understand that nobody can do it alone.
“I believe that this great alliance, with a leader in the global tourism market, such as the TUI Group, goes beyond the narrow limits of our common commitment to this endeavour.
It’s a vote of confidence to Rhodes, to the islands of the region of South Aegean but also to Greece.”
Rhodes, as a top global destination, offers the best conditions to test innovations for more sustainable tourism and to understand their interaction, the project claims.
Here, all the components that make up a holiday are in one place. Hotels, airports, cruises, transfers and mobility, excursions – the complexity of the challenges is visible on Rhodes.