Q&A: Jessica Kuthe, director portfolio management TUI Hotels & Resorts

by: Felicity Cousins | July 31, 2023

TUI’s SBTi commitment for Hotels & Resorts is -46.2 per cent by 2030. It has also set its own target to reach net zero carbon across all operations (cruises, airline package holidays) by 2050. Sustainable Hotel News asked Jessica Kuthe, director portfolio management TUI Hotels & Resorts, about how it plans to achieve this, what work the group is doing with the GSTC and what she thinks of standardisation in the sector when it comes to reporting sustainable practices.

TUI says it is aiming to achieve net zero across all operations by 2050. Do you think every hotel chain / operator has a responsibility to achieve net zero by 2050?

JK: We are in a decade of sustainable transformation. That applies for TUI and the tourism industry, but also for every other business on this planet. It’s time to see sustainability as a necessity to integrate it in the business and to strive to reduce our impact as much as possible. At TUI we see an opportunity to get there much sooner than 2050, and are committed to sharing our learnings with the wider industry to accelerate the transformation.

How is TUI working with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) to achieve its sustainability goals?

JK: We have been working with the GSTC for our hotels since 2012. We only accept sustainability certifications that are recognised by the independent GSTC and meet its strict standards. Our own research has demonstrated [that] certified hotels also proved significantly increased environmental performance compared to non-certified resorts. In addition, TUI is also a member of the GSTC Board of Directors and is actively involved in further development.

This year TUI Hotels & Resorts published its Green Building Guidelines, which provide its hotels and hotel partners with recommendations for construction and refurbishment projects. How has the Green Building Guidelines for your hotels been received?

JK: They were received with great interest and we would like to develop them further in the future, together with the industry. Our development colleagues also use the guidelines in their discussions with potential investors and hotel partners, e.g. in Asia or Africa.

What are TUI Hotels & Resorts’ customers asking for when it comes to sustainability?

JK: Customers consider sustainability as an important aspect when booking their hotel stays, but it is often not easy to identify these options. We encourage our hotels and hotel partners to strive for a sustainability certification that is recognised by the GSTC. The TUI tour operators have recently started to mark these hotels with a catchy label to make the sustainability certification more visible for our guests providing reassurance and orientation. 

How hard is it to gather data and metrics without a standardised framework across the hospitality sector?

JK: TUI implemented a robust data collection process many years ago in order to be able to measure consumption and track relevant KPIs. Due to global developments and a tightening of legal reporting obligations, TUI intensively monitors the requirements and regularly adapts the data collection system. We welcome the increasing move to develop standardised metrics for the industry, as this is essential if we are going to make meaningful comparisons and benchmarks to drive improvements. 

Given the varied and wide supply chain for the hotel sector, are Scope 3 emissions going to be the target which lets the hotel industry down?

JK: Scope 3 emissions are indeed a broad area which we are already starting to investigate these in much greater detail. Like most hotels, we started with Scope 1 and 2 as they are within our direct control, but Scope 3 are of course essential as part of our Net-zero objectives by 2050. A common industry approach to Scope 3 measurement and reduction is something we would welcome. However, it’s already clear our suppliers will share our vision of the need to create a more sustainable future which is the most important first step. We will therefore approach each other from both sides.

Is food waste an issue hotels can no longer ignore?

JK: We have been working to reduce our food waste for many years as it is such an important topic from a carbon, cost and customer sentiment point of view. Whether with regional sourcing, appealing food presentation in smaller portions, training or the latest measuring methods. We currently have a pilot project where we analyse food waste with the help of AI [TUI is working with Kitro Food Waste System]. 

TUI tied its credit lines to SBTi – will this continue after 2026?

JK: TUI has successfully extended the maturity of its existing credit lines by a further two years. For the first time it will also be linked to the achievement of the Group’s emission reduction targets confirmed by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). The extension has just been announced and a continuation will then be determined again in the next update.

You can read more about TUI’s Force for Good programme here.