Thomas Ellerbeck is a member of the Group Executive Committee TUI Group and Chairman of the Board of the international TUI Care Foundation. Among other things, he campaigned for tour guides who travel from hotel to hotel to now travel on e-bikes instead of cars. | TUI | Christian Wyrwa

How did the collaboration with Sibylle Tiessen’s video project come about?

Travelling has a lot to do with an interest in people, nature, local culture and tradition. Mallorca is an island of diversity - in terms of nature and culture and also in terms of the great people who live here. There are people who have fascinating stories to tell and who shape the island with their ideas and their work. They make Mallorca a unique place in Europe. The video project is intended to show precisely this diversity and thus also change the perception of the island. Mallorca is much more than sun, sea and beach - in my view, it is one of the most exciting and dynamic places in Europe.

What role does Mallorca play for the tourism industry?

As one of the most popular holiday regions in Europe, Mallorca is very important for holidaymakers and the tourism industry. In many areas, Mallorca is also a role model for other holiday destinations. Almost two million holidaymakers travel to the Balearic Islands with TUI. We employ thousands of people here and TUI Musement, one of the most innovative companies in the Group, is based on the island. And tourism, for its part, is of immense importance to the Balearics. What we see in Mallorca is true for many regions in the world: tourism creates jobs and local added value. It also strengthens social and environmental standards, contributes to cultural exchange and international understanding. It does of course have to be managed responsibly. Tourism growth needs guidelines on how to achieve more sustainability and local participation. So it is important that local politics, the people who live in Mallorca and companies all work together on this. Sustainability is too often reduced to ecology, whereas it is about three equally important components: ecological, social and economic sustainability.

What is the significance of sustainability for tourism?

The future of tourism is sustainable. There is no doubt about that. The whole sector is now at the beginning of a sustainable transformation. We are working to further reduce the consumption of resources - this applies in particular to energy and fuels. And we want to ensure that the participation of the local population is further strengthened. It is the people who make the success of a holiday destination. Therefore, they must also benefit when guests come - from local traders and restaurants to local farmers who supply hotels and restaurants.

At TUI we take this very seriously and have set ourselves ambitious targets with our sustainability agenda - especially in the area of CO2 and climate protection. With the Science Based Targets Initiative, which was launched by WWF among others, we have set ourselves science-based targets for all parts of our business, for our airlines, cruise ships and for TUI hotels. We are also working to significantly reduce emissions for transfers on the ground. In Palma, for example, we want to test a shuttle that runs on environmentally friendly hydrogen. In other destinations, we have already exchanged cars for e-bikes for the guest service of our tour guides who drive from hotel to hotel. These are simple steps, but they have an immediate effect.

When and why was the TUI Care Foundation established?

We established the TUI Care Foundation in 2016 as an internationally active foundation. As an organisation independent of the company, it works for the sustainable development of holiday regions. The basic idea is that we want to use the opportunities of tourism for the development of holiday destinations - mostly together with local partners. The foundation is active in more than 30 countries around the world with its various programmes. We focus on four core areas: education and training, marine conservation, the protection of local nature and culture, and the promotion of local entrepreneurship. We encourage and support founders who start their own businesses in the tourism sector environment. Often it only takes a small push to initiate huge changes locally. Especially during the pandemic, many families and businesses experienced what happens when tourists do not travel to holiday destinations. The TUI Care Foundation launched programmes in Mallorca during that time.

To what extent can the TUI Care Foundation support the Balearic Islands? Which projects are already supported and which ones are planned for the future?

The Balearic Islands are very strong in many areas. For some years now, sustainability has been high on the agenda, and the standard of education is of course very high here. But there are still many areas where the Foundation can make a difference with its work and support positive change. In a broad-based marine conservation programme, for example, we are committed to the renaturation of bays in the Balearics together with local marine conservationists. The Balearics have a beautiful marine environment that must be conserved. We are also currently working on an agricultural project that will promote sustainable cultivation and open up new income opportunities for farms. The issue of reforestation is also on our project list for Mallorca. The TUI Forest in Mallorca is now a blueprint for forests that we, as the TUI Care Foundation, want to create together with guests in as many places around the world as possible.

How does the cooperation with hoteliers and companies work?

Hoteliers are important partners, for example in education and training. The TUI Care Foundation sets up the projects and of course supports them financially. But the financial component alone does not lead to success. You need the right ideas and, above all, the right teams to implement and support them on the ground. We have strong project partners and we have a huge pool of supporters behind us in the form of TUI colleagues and partners. There is a lot of energy and many hoteliers are also involved - for example RIU Hotels and Resorts, who have their home here in Mallorca. In this way, we can bring in enormous tourism expertise from practice and create access to a broad tourism network. In many cases, this makes the difference for the success of projects. The special strength of the TUI Care Foundation lies in this holistic approach - this makes the foundation unique in the tourism environment.