Fiona Jeffery: Look beyond the demands of the day

Atta Industry Relations Director in Travel Weekly:

Business leadership cannot be exclusively about short-term results, says Fiona Jeffery, chair of the WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards

I was delighted to host the 2015 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards ceremony at the Global Summit yesterday.

These Awards celebrate the very best examples of sustainable tourism businesses and destinations around the world.

This is the first time we have included the Tourism for Tomorrow ceremony within the main Global Summit content for many years and it marked the end of a year-long process which began shortly after the end of the last Global Summit in Hainan.

Each winner shines a light on examples of outstanding business practice. They demonstrate and invest in a type and level of business leadership that is not exclusively about meeting the frequent demands and pressures for short-term results.

Rather it requires a sustained, studied and committed process involving employees, partners and beneficiaries which aims to protect the environment now and for future generations but at the same time creates positive tourism experiences for others to share; fulfilling the spirit of our industry.

Our five winners this year are from a broad cross-section of our industry, from TripAdvisor GreenLeaders in the US to slum tours organiser Reality Tours & Travel in India.

The winners include the city of Ljubljana in Slovenia, environmental pioneers Soneva Group from Maldives and Thailand and Confortel Hoteles from Spain.

The Awards are celebrated across the industry for many reasons – but particularly for the rigour of the judging process which includes site visits to each of the 15 short-listed finalists, regardless of where they are in the world.

This approach, unique among awards in the travel and tourism industry, means that every applicant is properly assessed and the judges have absolute trust in the quality and accuracy of the information presented to them.

The task of selecting five winners from 15 deserving finalists is a very difficult one, rightly led by professionals each with decades of experience in this field.

Our Lead Judge overseeing the process is Graham Miller, Professor of Sustainability in Business at Surrey University.

The other members of the final judging panel are Jonathon Porritt co-founder and trustee of Forum for the Future; Hugh Riley, secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization; and Mandip Singh Soin, founder and managing director of Ibex Expeditions and founder of Ecotourism Society in India; and myself.

I would like to thank all the judges for the efforts in deciding the winners. Given so many different, inspiring projects, the level of debate was no surprise and judges provided varied insights and a wide range of differing opinions.

This was my first event since taking over as Chair of the Awards last year and for me the awards go beyond simply being outstanding awards of recognition.

I am keen that they become an inspiring tool for learning and sharing across our industry and an opportunity to showcase the very best examples of sustainable tourism in practice.

We now start planning for the 2016 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. It seems a long way off but we begin our call for entries in only a few months.

I hope these awards inspire others to continue to develop their business practices and attract another group of outstanding entries which supports continuous improvement across our industry.