6 March 2023

„Travel must become more transparent“

In the latest Opinion of the Month, Ingo Burmester, CEO of DER Touristik Central Europe of the DER Touristik Group, discusses the need for a mandatory EU-wide sustainability label for travel, and equal competition in the travel industry.
Reading time: 7 min.

Dear Reader,

DER Touristik consists of tour operators, several hotel brands, travel specialists, and travel agencies in 16 countries across Europe. Package tours are our speciality. Together we ensure daily that travel dreams come true. But our work goes well beyond planning and booking holidays, and distinguishes us from many of our competitors, especially those providing individual services. Working together with holiday destinations, we are committed to greater sustainability in every respect. In the event of a medical emergency or a natural disaster, our specially trained teams are available to assist travellers. If there is an airport strike, we will take care of the rebooking and ensure the best possible alternative for our customers without additional costs. In short, we stand by our responsibility to our guests as well as to the local population and environment in the target destinations. At the same time, the conditions in the tourism industry must be structured in a way that ensures competition.

Tourism is an important component of the German domestic and foreign economy. In some regions it is often the most decisive economic factor and provides employment. But not only that; what I personally appreciate most about the travel industry is its ability to connect people and cultures. After all, a sound environment is the most vital asset some holiday destinations can have. That is why we, as a cooperative company part of the REWE Group, are forging ahead the path to greater sustainability together with the target destinations by addressing a range of topics: child protection, animal protection, energy efficiency, and climate protection. The challenges are manifold. Thanks to the close relationships with our holiday resorts, we were already able to implement guidelines for safety and sustainability standards in several countries. I would particularly like to highlight our most recent child protection guidelines, which provide for on-site trainings on children’s rights and ensure that children who participate in one of our homestay offers are never left alone with strangers. We address these challenges in close collaboration with our holiday destination partners.

I am convinced that tourism can make an important contribution to shaping a more sustainable world.

Dr Ingo Burmester, CEO Central Europe DERTOUR Group
Dr Ingo Burmester, CEO Central Europe DERTOUR Group

I am convinced that tourism can make an important contribution to shaping a more sustainable world. For this reason, foreign tourism as a crucial component of the German domestic and international economy should be considered in the new National Platform the Future of Tourism, along with the close cooperation of the tourism industry.

In our view, making travel more transparent and helping travellers to make more sustainable choices is one possible approach. As a member of Futouris, we have taken an important first step in this regard: by the end of 2023, we will provide transparent reporting on product emissions in German-speaking countries. This is only the first step, as there is more to sustainability than CO2 emissions. As such, we are advocating for a mandatory sustainability label for travel at the EU level. From our perspective, the long-term goal must be to provide travellers with a clear overview of the various sustainability aspects of a travel product, enabling them to make a direct comparison. We believe the “National Platform: Future of Tourism” is precisely the forum for addressing such ideas.

We know that major goals can only be achieved by working together. That is why we are actively supporting the process at the EU level. For example, we have already introduced six pledges as part of the “Transition Pathway for Tourism.” The aim of the EU initiative is to develop the conditions for bringing about environmental and digital change.

For our customers, a holiday should be the most wonderful time of the year – whether they are off to a dream beach somewhere far away, a ski holiday in the mountains, or enjoying all that culture has to offer in a big city. Working together with our teams at the travel agencies and locally, we naturally do everything we can to ensure that this is the case. Unfortunately, natural disasters, pandemics, and political unrest affect holiday destinations as well. As an organiser of package tours, it is our responsibility to protect consumers and look after our customers when such situations arise. We take care of the rebooking’s. In case of emergencies, we also provide medical assistance. At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, our crisis management team helped 44,000 travellers return home from around the world – including travellers who were not our customers. Our colleagues work with dedication 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. A sense of obligation and responsibility go hand in hand – but they also entail significant effort and investments. This is the main difference between package tours and travel booked online by individual travellers themselves. Political frameworks should reflect this and create equal competition that does not place a one-sided burden on tour operators. This is also in the interests of holidaymakers, as it allows them to enjoy their dream vacations.

Ihr Ingo Burmester

Dr Ingo Burmester
CEO Central Europe DERTOUR Group

is CEO Central Europe at the DERTOUR Group.

About DERTOUR Group

DERTOUR Group has its head office in Cologne, Germany, and is REWE Group’s travel and tourism division. As one of Europe’s leading travel groups, DERTOUR Group encompasses more than 130 companies and employs more than 9,200 people in 16 European countries. Every year, millions of guests travel with one of the Group’s tour operators or specialists. DERTOUR Group includes tour operators such as DERTOUR, ITS, Meiers Weltreisen, Kuoni, Helvetic Tours, ITS Coop Travel, Billa Reisen, Koning Aap, Apollo, Exim Tours and Fischer, as well as more than 2,100 travel agencies (such as DERTOUR, DERPART, Kuoni, Exim, and Fischer, as well as franchises and partners), the hotel brands Sentido, Aldiana, Calimera and COOEE, and the online travel agency Prijsvrij Vakanties. The DERTOUR Group also offers on-site support: The company runs an agency network with 72 offices in 30 travel destinations. The staff in the destination agencies assist the guests of the DERTOUR Group from their arrival at their holiday destination until their departure. For more
information, go to our corporate website.