by Robin Tauck | Sep 21, 2022 | Uncategorized
As the UNWTO’s World Tourism Day 2022 is upon us, it is easy to get distracted with the ‘are we there yet?’. Two years have passed in what feels like an instant, yet everything has changed. As tourism numbers steadily climb to pre-pandemic levels and more and more destinations fully open up to tourism once again, I reflect on this year’s theme for World Tourism Day: Rethinking Tourism.
For the last year and a half, I have spoken about the importance of Building Forward Better. Not the same, not back to how it was before, but better. We have been given a Masterclass by Mother Nature herself, allowing us time to reflect on the issues we were facing in travel and tourism such as over tourism and sustainability, with time and new focus to rethink and change the way we operate.
As Chair of Tourism Cares, the industry’s largest non-profit focused on sustainability, we work every day to unite the industry to make a positive, measurable change in social and environmental actions – all aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
As an industry, we must rethink how we work together to help local economies, protect natural environments, and keep cultures and communities strong. We must rethink our offerings to travellers, providing our customers with ways of travel that contribute rather than dilute the destinations on their bucket lists. Finally, we must rethink our own travels, as we take off our industry hats and put on that of tourist. It is not enough for us to talk the talk as leaders in this industry, we must lead by example.
For this year’s World Tourism Day I have put together a call-to-action video message that I hope inspires you and your networks to rethink tourism as we build forward better together. On September 27th, and every day after, I invite you to join me, and Tourism Cares, in our efforts to create change, build forward better, and rethink tourism for a brighter, more sustainable, tomorrow.
by Mike Tekula | Nov 18, 2015 | Uncategorized
Robin, a resident of Westport, CT, has partnered with SoundWaters to donate proceeds of a new book to enlist the next generation of stewards for Long Island Sound.
This fall, a colorful 88-page story book about Sherwood Old Mill Pond by Judith Orseck Katz debuts, The Beautiful Pond. Old Mill is an 84-acre tidal estuary and verdant salt marsh bordered by Long Island Sound. The book vividly brings to life the special seafaring cove where Westport, Connecticut was founded. All proceeds will go to SoundWaters to educate and advocate for the preservation of the traditions and waters of Long Island Sound.
Founded 25 years ago to protect Long Island Sound, SoundWaters understands that stewardship of the environment begins with knowledge. Their educational programs are experience-based, using hands-on instruction to build a deeper interest and literacy in science and to improve school achievement. They use the waters, shores and ponds of Long Island Sound as their classroom.
Said Scott Mitchell, SoundWaters chairman: “We are excited to partner with Judy and Robin on The Beautiful Pond, a unique creation highlighting attention to a valuable resource, and ensuring its future for the next generation.”
To learn more about the book or upcoming related events, please visit www.thebeautifulpond.com.
by Mike Tekula | Jan 29, 2015 | Uncategorized
Robin delivered a version of the following at the global meeting of the American Society of Travel Agents in Merida, Mexico, March 2014. The following is an excerpt.
Thank you for the opportunity to address the American Society of Travel Agents at one of your most important global gatherings, here in the beautiful Yucatan Peninsula. I’m delighted to be here with you today.
I’d like to talk with you about my deeply held belief that we in the travel industry can all be agents of change for sustainability and economic growth. Travel has a catalytic role to play. As members of the global travel industry, we possess a unique capability to make a difference, now more than ever before.
A Life in Travel
Fifty years ago, I had my very first experience outside of the United States; in Mexico, in the wondrous colonial, silver mining town of Guanajuato. I lived in Guanajuato for three months and my experiences with the people of Mexico changed my life and in many ways influenced the future of our family’s third-generation travel company.
Tauck is the oldest tour company in America; started by my grandfather in 1925 when he was only 23 years old. We have been in the business for 90 years. Today, our global operations help visitors of all ages and backgrounds reach 82 countries on all seven continents. The Tauck family is very proud that two generations of Tauck leaders have been inducted into the ASTA Hall of Fame. Their dedication to further the interests of the travel industry serves as an inspiration to my generation and the next.
The Time is Now: Global Growth and Change
There are exciting efforts underway to ensure that the greatest treasures of the world—places that enrich, inspire, and educate—are intact for the future and continue serve as sources of pride and economic growth. As leading members of the global travel industry, you have more power to contribute to the future than you may know. We can share our knowledge and resources, give back to places and destinations that transform us as travelers, and contribute to the sustainable growth of our industry.
The travel and tourism industry is the largest industry in the world, and it’s growing at an unprecedented rate. Consider this: the exponential growth in international arrivals has boomed, from just 25 million in 1950 to 1.8 billion by 2030. As this trend line continues to surge upward, we must think progressively and with great intention for sustainability. I see one billion travelers as one billion opportunities. You influence one in seven people on the planet. If one tourist buys local products today, they’ll be supporting, by the billions, the communities they visit through income and job creation for generations.
So What Exactly is Sustainable Tourism?
Sustainable tourism encompasses environmental, climate, socio-cultural, and economic impacts, often referred to as the Triple Bottom Line. It is a level of tourism activity that aims to enhance destinations over the long term. Despite environmental challenges, through partnerships, we can build policies for greater engagement. We can overcome and achieve the socio-economic balance we seek, especially in culturally rich destinations. Collaboration is making a difference, now more than ever.
Public and Private Partnerships in the 21st Century
If we are to be agents of change, then public private-partnerships will continue to play a critical role. Government, business, and conservation entities are embarking on an exciting, collaborative journey aligning their initiatives. For example, the United Nations World Travel Organization and the WTTC are united in sharing the goals of enhancing “tourism for tomorrow,” a strategic priority since 2010.
Today, more than 60 presidents and prime ministers have joined forces. The highest single voice driving global leaders for tourism is known as The Golden Book, presented to dozens of Heads of State. In 2010, President Calderon of Mexico was the first leader to sign on to this initiative. The alignment has resulted in new opportunities: new infrastructure, eased taxation, visa waivers, open skies agreements, and more. The Golden Book allows travel sellers to “sell well.” I am encouraged by the fact that responsible tourism is increasingly becoming the norm, rather than the exception.
Explore and Progress
The desire to experience new places has been with us for a very long time. In fact, the word progress in middle age English meant a “seasonal journey.” So the very idea of advancing ourselves, of making progress, has its roots in travel.
I have had the opportunity to travel to over 280 World Heritage Sites in more than 100 countries. As a U.S. Commissioner for UNESCO, I am engaged with international governments and major conservation entities in protecting World Heritage Sites on behalf of our industry.
We can all be agents of change to steward unique and iconic places. Travel enriches our understanding of ourselves and illuminates heritage and history. It reaches into the very fabric of what it means to be human. Cultural and natural heritage are our past, our present, and our future—the very basis of life a testament to our values.
In closing, I wish all the best to everyone in the American Society of Travel Agents for a bright future from one of your founding families.
Merida, March 2014
by Mike Tekula | Jan 16, 2015 | Uncategorized
Robin is a member of the Executive Committee of Tourism Cares, the largest non-profit in the U.S. travel industry and chairs the organization’s Global Impact Portfolio. A version of the following announcement was made in 2014.
Bringing travel industry together to enrich and empower destinations in need
Tourism Cares, the largest non-profit in the U.S. Travel Industry announced in 2014 a Global Impact Portfolio, a multifaceted, multi-country effort to preserve, enrich, and empower several destinations emerging in tourism, globally growing rapidly or recovering from crisis.
Tourism Cares will marshal the resources and insights available to the global travel industry to make timely financial grants, organize skilled and professional volunteers, enhance the visibility and awareness of iconic destinations, and facilitate exchanges of ideas to positively impact sites and communities. Based on the belief that, when taken together, travel and philanthropy are a powerful force for change, the fund will prioritize Egypt and Myanmar in 2014.
Egypt and Myanmar
“Egypt and Myanmar need our philanthropy and partnership, almost as much as our business,” said Mike Rea, the new CEO of Tourism Cares. Rea, previously of The Gates Foundation, is a respected social entrepreneur and disaster relief specialist who co-founded Give2Asia in 2000, which has facilitated millions of dollars in philanthropy from the U.S. to Asia. “The time to engage is now. We can do much more together, as an industry, to ensure these vital, extraordinary places are intact for the future and are engines of pride and prosperity for all. We must act responsibly today.”
A global task force has been formed and a cadre of accomplished, networked advisors, immersed in the local social, political, and economic landscapes of both countries is in place. In Egypt, where tourist arrivals have plummeted since 2011 but are expected to resume, the new fund will start by helping to preserve an underappreciated, iconic World Heritage destination and provide cultural heritage masters training in Cairo. In Myanmar, where three million tourists are expected in 2015, Tourism Cares will support heritage protection, help at-risk youth develop skills and participate in the tourism economy, and invest in local social businesses. A partnership was formed with Friends International of Myanmar.
Haiti, Cuba, Mexico, and Peru
Other destinations shortlisted for opportunities and professional insights on tourism and volunteerism include Haiti, where expeditions with the Clinton Foundation have occurred; and in Cuba, with the President’s recently relaxed restrictions for Americans. Tourism Cares has donated to Mexico’s relief funds for natural disasters and is focused on cultural heritage sites in the Yucatan Peninsula.
In Peru, Tourism Cares brought together 24 companies from the United States and Peru for a major “give back” expedition and dialogue on the future of Machu Picchu and related Cusco sites. In a three-year engagement, a new sister organization was formed: Turisma Cuida of Lima, Peru. This organization now serves the tourism industry of Peru with its own board of directors. Over 15 grants have been provided to Peruvian organizations serving cultural heritage in tourism and preservation.
About Tourism Cares
Since 1999, Tourism Cares has a mission to preserve and enhance the travel experience for future generations. We channel the philanthropic passion and commitment of the travel industry to protect and restore valuable destinations we all care about and to support those destinations as engines for prosperity, civil society, and pride in their communities. Our domestic programs focus on industry-wide volunteer events, capacity building for the nonprofit stewards of tourism sites, and scholarships and mentoring to support a talented workforce. Globally, our efforts include corporate social responsibility partnerships, strategic investments, and advocacy and education across the travel industry.
Tourism Cares is a 501c(3) non-profit public charity with over 100 travel member companies that benefits society by preserving the travel experience for future generations. Its mission is accomplished by awarding grants to natural, cultural and historic sites worldwide; by focusing on workforce development through professional and student programs which provide support from classroom to career; and by organizing dozens of volunteer efforts to restore tourism- related sites in need of care and rejuvenation.
Learn more at www.TourismCares.org and follow updates on Facebook, on Twitter: @TourismCares, on Instagram: @Tourismcares.
by Mike Tekula | Jan 15, 2015 | Uncategorized
Robin prepared a version of the following for the meeting of the World Travel & Tourism Council in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The outcry for “change” has never been greater. While easily stated, real change cannot occur without real partnerships and new commitments. In the beautiful and diverse country of Brazil, a rapidly growing BRIC country and site of extraordinary World Events in 2014-2016, we engage in unequivocal commitment towards environmental protection, social and cultural enhancement and sustainable tourism. Powered by consumer demand and increasingly embraced by the mainstream, the time to move from passive listening to decisive action is now.
Tourism must build upon and create new and non-traditional partnerships and we must raise awareness for the vast intangible benefits of travel that permeate all levels of all societies; enhancing the well-being and common interests of all mankind. It is time to look beyond short-term gains towards long-term gains and to prioritize environmental planning as our most important strategic investment.
The United Nations framework (UNEP, UNWTO, UNF and UNFCCC) have aligned and since 2007, along with global conservation, travel and government entities, are developing “Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria”—the GSTC Partnership, promoting universal sustainable tourism principles. To date, some 11,000 companies are certified representing only 1% of tourism companies worldwide. Since 2010, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC ) and the UNWTO representing governments that have united on key initiatives to build tourism and sustainability to key policy leaders in dozens of important nations.
True partnerships are long term in nature, are values-driven for the greater good, and realize results that no entity can achieve independently. Those that involve private and public business, government, and non-profits, always offer a unique solution to pressing challenges. They may be those we have never considered; including partnerships among competitors. Benefits are far-reaching and include cost effectiveness, added value, organizational learning, and visible results that go beyond the corporate boardroom.
In Dubai recently, we were inspired by long-time WTTC members such as Bill Marriott, who despite dozens of economic crisis, continually involves his team in innovating change and who now takes a lead in the environment by greening hotels, greening the supply chain, greening customers, and greening the rainforest in Brazil, with a $2 million commitment from Marriott which is continued by CEO Arne Sorenson and his team.
At Tauck, we strive to set an example. My grandfather brought early travelers to the National Parks, and we have since spent decades supporting our public lands and the Native American and local communities. We have tours that visit over 58 national parks, uniting with others and our National Park Service and National Park Foundation, and beyond our industry to protect our national treasures.
As one example, in 2007, we expanded this concept in Southern Africa, and partnered with Wilderness Safaris, DeBeers Diamonds, DHB Bank and Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Camps. We brought post-apartheid reunification and local community involvement with new safari lands on the borders of Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. We made a measurable difference for the youth and families in the Malukele villages, a concept that has expanded to nearby regions to protect and preserve endangered wildlife regions.
The world stage is set for an era of real partnerships. Globalization, advanced technology, open politics, market interest, non-profit growth and a new generation. These are exciting opportunities. Our industry must take center stage, align in collaboration towards our defined goals, and you and your company will be needed to play an important role.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil