Six innovative projects have secured backing from the Booking Cares Fund - a €2m pool dedicated to championing non-profit sustainable tourism projects that present new and unexpected solutions to reimagine the global travel industry.
Ranging from new models around animal welfare and emerging technologies that drive behavioural change in hotels to concepts that focus on protecting the world’s oceans, each of the projects will receive financial support to bring their plans to life and fuel their expansion over the coming year.
Waves, recycling ocean plastic into sustainable design by Reflow, Netherlands
Transforming ocean plastic into high quality materials for 3D printing, Reflow use these materials to deliver a commercially viable range of sustainable design products. This project will conduct research and testing to produce high quality 3D printing filaments directly from contaminated ocean waste, in collaboration with non-profits focusing on ocean clean-up, biodiversity and conservation.
The hotel as a lighthouse for sustainable tourist behaviour by Innovation Lighthouse, Netherlands
This project will test existing innovations (smart showers, lights, air quality), both technical and behavioural, in a real-life 'test' hotel room with guests from all over the world - measuring the environmental, social and economic impacts of the innovations. In this way, successful innovations can be rolled out to more hotel rooms and those innovations that do not perform as expected can be improved based on learnings and data collected from the study.
Reefhabilitation by The Nature Conservancy, USA
The Nature Conservancy will work with local partners to enlist thousands of 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, the 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.
"This grant is a game changer for not only our team, but also the tourism and conservation sectors,” says Dr. Joseph Pollock, Director of Coral Strategy, The Nature Conservancy in the Caribbean. “Our aim is to enlist tourists as agents of positive change for coral reefs, empowering them to rebuild degraded reefs through an exciting new sustainable tourism product."
Accessible beaches in Costa Rica by Costa Rica Accessible Network, Costa Rica
The goal of this project is to create an environment where people with disabilities and their families are able to live the physical and emotional benefits of getting into the ocean. During Costa Rica Accessible Network’s exploration of its namesake country the team noticed a lack of accessibility around Costa Rica’s beaches - an integral part of both local residents and tourists’ experience. The organisation created a project whereby plastic will be recycled into plastic wood, which can be used to create accessible solutions like retractile pathways and amphibian chairs. This project will design and create a prototype of what an accessible beach should be so that it can be replicated for beaches globally.
Khwela Youth Tourism Stars by Khwela Tourism Stars, South Africa
Khwela Tourism Stars focuses on empowering young, unemployed women in South Africa. The program intertwines theory and practice through experiential and peer-to-peer learning, self-development and soft skills coaching. The project was established to bridge the gap between unemployed youth in South Africa and tourism companies that struggle to find well-trained and enthusiastic staff. The second stage of the project (developing out the curriculum and a lighter framework of learning as well as a Khwela Playbook) will take the learnings and successes of the pilot project and scale to more regions (Johannesburg) while doubling impact in Cape Town.
“Winning the grant means a big happy dance at HQ! Dancing because we are celebrating our ability to make a difference to young women in South Africa to join our AFRICAN Sisterhood,” says Asanda Daraza, Co Founder, Khwela Tourism Stars. “Khwela and Booking.com share a vision to empower people to experience the world - which is exactly what we’ll be able to do more of. We got to network with different change makers, who have inspiring stories. We learnt and grew this week during the program, and shifted our perspective on the potential impact of our program.”
Champions of change for elephants and community coexistence in tourism by Mahouts Elephant Foundation, Thailand
Mahouts Elephant Foundation will test a unique safari-style model of elephant tourism in direct partnership with Karen indigenous mahouts, empowering them with training and tools to develop ecotourism programs to support their families and their elephants in their home village, rather than selling their elephants or renting them to elephant tourism camps.
Each of the project founders attended a four day programme in Amsterdam, where they had the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from Booking.com experts and mentors to further develop and perfect their project plans, while working together to build a movement around sustainable tourism.
The programme culminated in an interview round with Booking.com’s judging panel, from which fund recipients were selected. In addition to the financial assistance, each project team will have a dedicated Booking.com mentor and access to a pool of additional experts to support their plan and help the organisation develop over the coming year.
- Booking.com drives sustainable travel innovation through the Booking Cares Fund, supporting non-profit projects; Booking Booster, an accelerator programme for sustainable travel scale-ups; and Booking Cares Labs, in partnership with local governments
- Booking.com defines sustainable travel across four pillars: tourism dispersal, inclusive travel, cultural preservation and promotion, and environmental conservation and protection