“One of the reasons why we created Green & Human is because the reputational treatment that the sector was receiving seemed unfair to us”
Jumbo Tours and AMResorts announced in January the creation of a consortium called Green & Human aimed at promoting the sustainable transformation of tourism and channelling European funds. At the beginning, the project included 12 companies, representing each of the subsectors, currently it has about 40 and, before the convention of the aid of the Next Generation Recovery and Transformation Plan is called, it expects to reach 80 member companies, according to Ginés Martínez, CEO of Jumbo Tours. He assures that “the consortium is not just another instrument to benefit from the funds, but that its objective is sustainability”.
How has the project evolved since January?
There are two different parts. One is the official part, which is specifically linked to the issue of the Next Generation European funds. We have submitted an expression of interest and we are waiting to know what the next steps are to submit applications. This is one of the main reasons for the creation on Green & Human. But then there is the project itself, independent of the funds. It is a consortium of companies funded by Jumbo Tours and Apple Leisure Group Europe to which a number of companies, with the same interest, have joined. This is the transformation of tourism into a more responsible and sustainable activity and here we are very successful.
What is the role of the consortium?
The objective is to help the companies, that are part of the consortium, to transform their activity through the available funds and aid. Allowing entry above all to small and medium companies, who are normally excluded because of their lack of infrastructure, knowledge or advice to be able to put it into practice. We have Biosphere, one of the most internationally recognised organisations in the field of sustainable business culture, who will advise us. They give us the guarantee of knowing that what we are doing is on the right track. All companies that join the consortium enter the Biosphere platform and can assess the level of compliance with the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). It offers some parameters that allow them to evaluate which aspects they are developing well and in which not so much.
The consortium is not just another instrument to benefit from funds, but rather has an objective towards sustainability. Large and small companies have joined, and have seen in this the possibility of accessing a form of help, information and advice that otherwise they wouldn’t have.
At the launch of the project, there were 12 companies, one for each of the tourist segments. How many are there now?
Now we have around 40 companies which have already confirmed their membership and we are in talks with another 30. We believe that before the Next Generation funds are called and the official projects must be presented to request the aid, between small, medium and large companies, we will be around 80.
The purpose of this group of companies is to achieve sustainable transformation. How do you hope to achieve it?
Each one of us has an impact on the environment where we carry out our activity. Each have areas in which they have less impact and others in which they must work at to achieve immediate improvements. From the consortium, we advise all companies that join on how they can be more sustainable. With each one of them we are identifying projects. For example, with some hoteliers we have identified projects of energy efficiency and cleaner energy; with some restaurants we have identified projects which allow the consumption of local organic crops.
The project also includes social integration.
This is another important point because the more socially integrated the activity we develop is, the more benefits it brings, and it has a direct impact on society. In the end society is what supports the development of the activity. For this reason, in the Green and Human environment, we are going to work with companies on how to apply sustainable transformation to human teams, with the empowerment of women, equal rights, facilitating youth work… This is to say, we do not focus only on the green part of sustainability.
Are projects already underway?
The beauty of this consortium project is that the companies joining were already working, but they want to do it in a more organised and orderly way. Almost all of them had already identified projects, but now, with Next Generation funds, they can benefit from financial support to undertake the necessary investments. They are an opportunity because they are destined to industrial transformation and towards a more sustainable development.
How can companies benefit from the funds?
The conditions are not there yet, we have to wait, there is a lot of confusion around how the requirements and final conditions will be, to know which projects or which initiatives are going to be eligible for these funds. For this reason, many of the projects are somewhat on standby and will be more or less accelerated in virtue when we know that the funds will be available.
Is there a roadmap for the execution of these projects?
Within the general plan of the consortium, each company will present its own project. The consortium is not going to execute investments, it will be each company that executes them. If they want European funds, a part of their project will be financially supported by Next Generation funds.
With this initiative, a message of unity is also being transmitted regarding the importance of sustainability in the sector.
One of the reasons why we decided to create Green & Human is because the reputational treatment the world of tourism was receiving seemed very unfair, attacking airlines and hotel chains, while not criticising other types of companies that are even more responsible for overcrowding, such as unregulated tourist accommodation.
The industry is very committed, not now because of the Next Generation funds, but for a long time it has been committed to developing its activity in a sustainable way. Not only in the ecological area, but also in the social and human areas.
We realise that now there is an excellent opportunity to bring together all these projects from separate companies, to put them together and make a joint effort to show that we are working on the transformation of a more sustainable model. We have the possibility to involve all companies in the value chain regardless of their size.