Over-tourism protests ‘no threat’ to Tui Group

The boss of Europe’s largest travel company, Tui Group, said protests about overtourism are “no threat” to the business.

Thousands of people in the Canary Islands have protested recently against the impact of mass tourism, calling for limits on numbers of holidaymakers and curbs on development.

And residents across the Balearic Islands plan ‘anti-tourism’ protests in Ibiza and Majorca later this month.

Talking about the Canary Islands protests, chief executive Sebastian Ebel said Tui takes the issue “very, very seriously” but insisted it is not a threat.

He said “social sustainability” has always been part of Tui’s sustainability strategy and is discussed the local authorities in destinations.

Ebel pointed out that bringing tourists to stay in hotels doesn’t affect housing costs as package customers don’t sleep in private housing, while employees who are sent to the Canaries stay in apartment houses which Tui has built.

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“We are employing people to standard and good contracts,” he added.

“We are bringing customers by bus, 40-50 people…not 50 individual cars.

“Our customers stay 10 to 11 nights on the Canary Islands…and not three days.

“We explain what the differences are and we support all the actions which are taken to reduce the burden on the people. If the locals are happy, our customers are happy.”

Ebel added: “Much as we take the protests very seriously, they have not been a really big thing on the Canary Islands.

“It has been a major issue here in press and less in the destination.”

The issue of protests was also addressed in the Q2 results statement which said: “Despite protests highlighting issues such as rising housing prices and resource consumption, the general sentiment towards tourists remains positive. We continue our efforts to balance tourism benefits with community well-being.”

Ebel told the call with reporters: “Sustainability is in our hearts, and we do see this as very important. It is part of our DNA.”

He said a new group policy on diverse, sustainable and ethical sourcing sets out targets for reducing emissions and cutting the use of plastics.

AI technology that has been used to cut food waste on cruises is now being introduced to hotels, added Ebel.

When asked about new destinations that could be on Tui’s radar, he commented: “I’m a big fan of Albania. We should and could do more and it’s on our agenda to look at it.”

He added discussions about Algeria have taken place but the security situation is still not suitable for holidaymakers.

Pictured: Puerto de la Cruz on Tenerife, the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands

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