BRUSSELS - Sustainability in tourism is the central challenge that the industry is facing in the 21st century. Now more than ever, we are aware of the vulnerability of life and how important it is to protect the beauty of our planet, which is the foundation of every tourism product. Travel agents and tour operators play a key role in this, given their position as intermediates between tourists, suppliers and destinations and thereby influencing consumer choices, supplier practices and destination development.
“The SUSTOUR project is a real opportunity for SMEs who would like to ’build back better’ in a post-COVID world. Thanks to the support of the European Commission, we can offer them this very intensive support programme” says Naut Kusters, Managing Director of ECEAT (European Centre for Eco and Agro Tourism) and Travelife for Tour Operators, the leading training, management and certification scheme.
This call for SME applications has been launched to select a minimum of 175 SMEs that will be able to benefit from a comprehensive support programme to help improve their sustainability performance. SMEs can choose to obtain support towards sustainability certification and/or implementation of innovative practices in their supply chain.
All participating SMEs will receive the EU co-financing. SUSTOUR will additionally cover the remaining contribution for all SMEs that are members of a SUSTOUR partner or supporting travel association. Participation in the support programme for such SMEs is therefore free of charge. All other SMEs will have to provide an own contribution, ranging between 200€-400€ depending on the size of the SME.
The call for SME application is open until 10 May 2022, 17h00 CET. The selection of SMEs will be completed by 7 of June. The technical support programme is expected to start end of June 2022 and will end on 30 June 2023.
Said Pawel Niewiadomski, President of ECTAA: “We encourage travel agents and tour operators to use the opportunities provided by this project and contribute step-by-step to a more sustainable tourism. As an important player of the tourism value chain, we have a shared responsibility to manage tourism in a sustainable way for present and future generations.”
The SUSTOUR project is led by a consortium composed of ECEAT and Futouris as well as 5 travel agents’ and tour operators’ associations, including ECTAA (Europe), ANVR (Netherland), UHPA (Croatia), SMAL (Finland) and APAVT (Portugal).