Annual Review 2020

Dear friends and supporters

For us, as for many other charities, 2020 has been deeply marked by the COVID-19 pandemic.  It has been a year of rapid change, of adaptation and at times of great sadness.  However, it has also been a year of resilience and of increased collaboration, which has led to an unparalleled opportunity to reshape the future of tourism.

I joined the Travel Foundation as CEO in September 2019 and by early 2020, we had already developed and begun to implement a new strategy to ensure that tourism brings greater benefits for local communities and protects the heritage, culture and environment in destinations. This work takes place under three broad objectives of:

  • – Destination stewardship: helping public and private sectors to optimise the value of tourism and support the needs of destinations.
    – Sustainable supply chain: supporting the adaptation and diversification of tourism to maximise benefits for communities and the environment.
    – Thought leadership: advocating for change and developing a global network of partners to promote understanding and innovation.

The economic impacts of the pandemic have hit destinations and the communities that rely on tourism particularly hard, highlighting the continued importance of this work. Throughout 2020, we have directed our efforts towards supporting destination recovery and encouraging collaboration across the tourism sector. Whilst many of our existing projects had to be paused for a time as a result of the pandemic, on restarting we have adapted many of our activities to reflect the new challenges faced by the communities, small businesses and destination authorities that we serve.

Our focus is now on helping the industry to both define what ‘build back better’ really means and put in place the necessary structures to achieve this.  We will be a catalyst for change, using our collaborative approach, visibility and global leadership to help usher in a new era for the travel industry.

Jeremy Sampson, Travel Foundation CEO

Highlights from 2020

Supporting Destination Recovery

We developed a range of capacity building initiatives to support a smarter, more community-focused recovery.

  • Roots to Recovery: We delivered a tourism recovery programme with City Nation Place, for the Colorado Tourism Office, the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group, Grenada Tourism Authority, Indigenous Tourism Ontario.

  • Supporting Small Islands: We began a recovery programme focussed on product development and impact measurement for micro-destinations through SMILO (small islands organisation).

  • Handbook and toolkit for Europe: We delivered ‘Sustainable Tourism Implementation’, presenting seven steps to advance sustainable tourism, with the European Tourism Commission, Good Place Slovenia and Green Case Consulting.

  • Supporting communities through local procurement: We began a project (through the EBRD) with hotel chains in Croatia and Montenegro to  build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce.


Why is this important?

The impact of COVID-19 has highlighted the need to strengthen the tourism sector against ongoing and future shocks. As destinations strive to recover from the pandemic, there is an opportunity to create a more balanced model that continues to deliver economic benefits, but also addresses negative environmental and socio-cultural impacts.

“We’re thrilled to be working with an internationally-recognised organisation like The Travel Foundation to support our recovery planning and anticipate that their work with us will significantly strengthen the overall impact of our recovery plan.”
Andrew Grossmann, Director of Destination Development, Colorado Tourism Office

The Future of Tourism Coalition

We joined forces with five other leading international tourism NGOs to launch the ground-breaking Future of Tourism Coalition.

  • By the end of 2020, over 400 tourism organisations had signed up to the 13 guiding principles.

  • Since its launch in June 2020, 140 articles about the Coalition and our goals appeared in the travel trade and consumer press.

  • We are creating a series of resources to support tourism organisations to align their recovery plans with the coalition’s guiding principles, including a webinar series.

Why is this important?

Decades of unfettered growth in travel have put the world’s treasured places at risk – environmentally, culturally, socially, and financially.  Now, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry faces a precarious and uncertain future and many travel industry leaders are talking about ‘building back better’.  We aim to ensure that such phrases are backed by substance and action, avoiding past mistakes and creating real change. The Future of Tourism Coalition provides a shared vision for the future and enables organisations to work together to achieve it.

Coalition members: Center for Responsible Travel, Destination Stewardship Centre, Green Destinations, Sustainable Travel International, Tourism Cares, The Travel Foundation.      ...

Read more

We now find that sharing our experiences and gaining best practice examples from other countries will be the key to successfully navigate the post-corona tourism universe. This is where the role of the Future of Tourism Coalition will be vital. The STB is looking forward to cooperating with the Coalition and to progress further with the reset of tourism, especially in this new reality, where sustainability and destination needs, as well as trust, will have to be placed at the center of tourism’s future.
Maja Pak, Director at the Slovenian Tourist Board.

Redirecting existing projects to meet new challenges

This project, funded by TUI Care Foundation, was originally designed to support small business owners to access the international tourism market and has now been re-directed to provide vital support to struggling businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic.

Having delivered market-readiness workshops to 190 small business owners the previous year, we switched our support in 2020 to focus on on-line training and resources that support business recovery. We created a guide to the financial schemes available to small tourism businesses and a guide to marketing. We also renewed our partnership with TPDCo (Jamaica’s Tourism Product Development Company) for online recovery webinars in 2021.

This initiative, funded by TUI Care Foundation, brings together tourists, tourism businesses and residents across the Famagusta region of Cyprus to cut consumption of single-use plastic.

Following a pause due to the pandemic, this project, funded by the TUI Care Foundation, restarted in the summer of 2020 by offering practical tips and best practice examples to help hoteliers and others reduce consumption of single-use plastics, whilst ensuring compliance with COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Nearly 50 hotels and over 35 bars are now signed up, awareness raising campaigns have reached over twenty thousand residents and around 200 school children have participated.

This project, funded by TUI Care Foundation, aims to improve the livelihoods of farmers and small-scale producers in the Muğla region by facilitating the local supply of traditional ingredients and delicacies to hotels.

2020 saw a 79% decrease in international tourism to the region and as a result our project activities were put on hold. However, by the end of the year all hotels had re-engaged with the project and we have widened our net to include smaller hotels, bars and restaurants.  We have also engaged more suppliers and, to date, 9 production units representing 95 farmers have sold products to tourism businesses. The training programme for suppliers, which will be rolled out in 2021, has also been adapted including a stronger focus on hygiene and sanitation.

This ambitious project, led by UN Environment, is finding ways to reduce carbon emissions, as well as water-use and waste from tourism across four island states.

The Travel Foundation is leading the implementation of the initiative in Mauritius and Saint Lucia, where this year, despite a pause in activities as a result of COVID-19, we worked with stakeholders to develop implementation plans and developed training packages for delivery in 2021 which will support businesses to improve their procurement and waste management practices.

Thought leadership

  • 40

    We presented at over 40 events, spreading the word about sustainable recovery to tourism industry professionals and destination management organisations all around the world.

  • 483

    We communicated our work and our case for change in 483 media articles around the world with a potential reach of over 840 million viewers.

  • 9k

    We have over 9000 followers on Twitter and have grown our presence on LinkedIn, also reaching nearly 9000 followers.

Looking to the future

In the wake of the pandemic, the tourism industry stands at a crossroads, with a unique opportunity to improve its impact.  A better future for tourism relies on the industry creating new ways of measuring success, taking action to create real change and ensuring a more inclusive and equitable environment.

Working with our partners, we aim to be a catalyst for change.  We will support destinations and travel companies to take a systemic approach that will enable a better, fairer type of tourism that improves long-term outcomes for destination communities and environments.

This year saw us enter into new partnerships and sign MoUs with a range of national and international organisations around the world which will help us to expand our reach, this includes:  Women in Travel, the Institute of Tourism Croatia, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA), Sustentur (Mexico), and a major international hotel chain.

Alongside these and other partners, we will work to truly ‘build back better’, creating a new model for tourism for a more sustainable, equitable and inclusive future.

Our income and expenditure 2020


Total income
  • 56%
    Private sector
  • 17%
    Grants and destination funds
  • 4%
    In kind support
  • 23%

Our total income of £466,496 was down 36.3% year on year as a result of a significant loss in donations due to the global pandemic and its devastating impact on travel, as well the conclusion of two initiatives that had been in place in 2019. To offset the loss of donations,10 additional income sources were secured for initiatives in 2021. Also included in the total income is £98,403 received from the job retention scheme.

Breakdown of charitable activities

Charitable expenditure
  • 29%
    Destination activities
  • 30%
    Capacity building and advocacy
  • 15%
    Research and scoping
  • 26%
    Other project funds & governance costs

The above graph shows the split of our charitable expenditure. To offset the reduced income, a reduction in our total expenditure was achieved, through the suspension for a time of in-country activities, the furloughing of staff, some unavoidable cuts to staffing and a freeze on unrestricted spending wherever possible, all in response to the pandemic. A greater than originally forecasted draw on our reserves was also agreed by the Board because of the pandemic’s significant impact on income. Despite a reduction in total expenditure of 28.7% year on year, we continued to fund activities that: support tourism actors to plan and develop with destination needs at heart; support better, more sustainable tourism products; and advocate for change.

A huge thank you to all our partners and supporters, who have enabled us to continue our important charitable work during this challenging year.

Our special thanks go to TUI Care Foundation, which supported us through this difficult financial period by continuing to provide funding for projects, despite the suspension of activities which will now take place in 2021 and 2022.

Our funders in 2020

Anna Lindh Foundation

Caribbean Tourism Organisation

EBRD (Croatia Programme)

European Travel Commission Project

Holiday Extras

IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation

Mid Counties Co-operative


TUI Care Foundation

United Nations Environment

US Embassy in Fiji


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