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8 bold ideas challenging sustainability within the tourism industry

After the Booking Cares Fund pilot last year, 2019 was opened to support the next group of non-profit ideas challenging the tourism industry to move in the right direction.

8 project ideas were chosen from hundreds to work with at the Amsterdam HQ and for a chance to receive funding for the projects. Each of these teams will have the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from mentors and experts in order to further develop and perfect project plans. Participants will also work together to build a movement and community in sustainable tourism, learn how is trying to scale change and network like crazy to see where we can leverage and support each other’s wild innovations.

Read below to learn a little more about the innovative projects we invited to Amsterdam.


Elephant and mahout welfare in Thailand’s elephant tourism industry has been one of the most well documented issues in tourism for decades. Despite years of international pressure and campaigning, few commercially viable ethical alternatives exist. This project reverses this negative impact and drives a new era of responsible and self-sustainable tourism supporting the protection of vast forest habitats and the funding of scientific research into elephant conservation and welfare. By innovating the way tourists interact with elephants we can transform the industry from a source of exploitation to a force for good.


Costa Rica Accessible Network is a non profit organization created to build a destination for all! We work on 3 main pillars: Inform, Educate, Verify. During our exploration of the country we noticed that the beaches of Costa Rica were an element that most tourists, locals and foreigners alike, visit but it was not accessible. So we created a way of getting accessibility into the beaches. This project recycles plastica 2, 4, and 5 into plastic wood which we then use to create accessible solutions like the retractile pathways and the amphibian chair which is now available in the first accessible beach of all Central America, called Jaco Beach in the Madrigales Sector. This project is now a country campaign with no expiration date because we will go beyond with a great impact in local society, ecosystem and the world.


Travel Without Plastic plans to revolutionise the procurement process for consumer goods in the tourism sector by providing an online retail platform which enables businesses to consider the environmental and social impacts of their purchasers, significantly reduce reliance upon single-use plastics and increase their contribution to local economies and livelihoods. Our platform will use verified comparative data which factors in CO2 emissions, air pollution, marine pollution, GHG emissions and impacts associated with disposal, enabling hoteliers to make an informed choice that is right for their business and right for the planet.


The Khwela Youth Tourism stars is a project that focuses on empowering young, unemployed women in South Africa. The program is innovative in a manner that intertwines theory and practice through experiential learning, peer to peer learning, self-development theory and soft skills coaching. The project was established in 2017 by three Tourism professionals, who saw a need to brid

ge a gap between unemployed youth in South Africa and Tourism companies that struggle to find well-trained and enthusiastic staff.


The Caribbean is more dependent on the travel and tourism sector than any other region worldwide, accounting for over 15% of GDP and 13.2% of jobs in the region. Coral reefs draw an estimated 7.4 million visitors and $5.7 billion to the Caribbean each year. Meanwhile, scientists estimate that living coral cover in the Caribbean has decreased by 60% in the past three decades, with 90% of its remaining reef system classified as threatened. The Nature Conservancy will work with our local partners to enlist tourists as coral gardeners to restore degraded dive sites, develop new dive locations, and disperse tourism away from the few remaining healthy reefs that receive the bulk of diver traffic. Specifically, our goal is to develop a replicable program of gold standard best practices to create opportunities for tourists and diving operators to serve as agents of positive change for coral reefs.


If sustainable tourism had a sound, it would mutate with each border, and it would sound like the traditional music of each destination. Could you imagine that this music had the power to boost the development opportunities of most vulnerable children? Seeds & Sounds is a project aimed to rescue, preserve and promote cultural identity, to create development opportunities for the youth in unique, remote, and underdeveloped destinations in Venezuela; in order to overcome critical issues such as teenage pregnancy, illegal mining, prostitution, drugs, violence, and migration, which tend to develop when tourism is left aside in these kind of places. With this project, we can avoid losing Venezuela’s extraordinary musical culture, which is in danger of extinction. And at the same time, help a significant number of children develop their musical talents in ways that are hitherto impossible for them to do.


What if we could use hotels as beacons for sustainable tourist behaviour? This project focuses on designing and implementing a sustainable hotel room of the future: the healthiest, cleanest, most efficient and inspiring hotel room, which nudges, motivates and inspires guests and

staff to behave in a more sustainable manner in the hotel, in the city they are visiting and also when they return home after their vacation. This project drives innovation by testing existing innovations, both technical and behavioural, in a real-life test hotel room with real guests from all over the world, and measuring the environmental, social and economic impacts of the innovations. In this way, successful innovations can be rolled out to more hotel rooms. By sharing the data collected from this project we can accelerate the transition to sustainable tourist and hotel behaviour.


In the Waves project, Reflow will transform plastic waste into a tool for good. Our approach is simple, we transform ocean plastic into high quality materials for 3D printing. We then use these materials to deliver a commercially viable range of sustainable design products, made in collaboration with collaborating social enterprises focused on ocean cleanup, biodiversity and conservation. By selling these products in different locations we can offer these organizations a commercial application for their plastics, thus funding a structured approach to tackling one of the biggest challenges in the 21st century together.

All teams will finish the programme by interviewing with the judging panel to share their vision and plans to change the industry. Judges will be given some time to deliberate and select the projects that will be awarded grants the following week. Regardless of the funding decisions, this marks only the start of our relationship. Each project team will be given a dedicated mentor, and access to a pool of additional experts to support their plan and help the organisation develop over the coming year. Stay tuned end of July for announcement of our 2019 grant recipients!


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