Partner Portrait of DER Touristik Suisse – New Name, Same Commitment to Climate Protection

DER Touristik Suisse AG – that's what Kuoni Reisen AG has called itself since July 2017. The company is also focussing strongly on sustainability and climate protection under its new name. The cooperation in climate protection with myclimate goes back to 2007. Together, a climate protection project on Bali was planned and jointly carried out. This not only guarantees massive CO₂ savings annually, but also contributes to five other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through a reduced environmental impact and the securing and creation of jobs. Matthias Leisinger speaks about what has been achieved and future plans in an interview with myclimate.

Matthias Leisinger, responsible for sustainability actions at DER Touristik Suisse and former sustainability manager at Kuoni

Mr Leisinger, the partnership with myclimate began in 2007. At that time, commitment to climate protection was still anything but a matter of course for travel operators. To what extent was Kuoni able to help this to change partly, as a pioneer?

It was primarily about raising awareness of climate change. After all, in addition to positive effects at the destinations, tourism also has its drawbacks. The sector not only contributes to worldwide climate emissions – it is also directly affected by them, whether this is through rising sea levels, the bleaching of coral reefs or the water scarcity in our destination areas. As an important actor in this sector, we have a responsibility here and we want to be part of the solution.

I think that we were able to help initiate this discussion more than 10 years ago. We have integrated myclimate compensation directly into the booking systems with our partner Umbrella. In this way, climate protection is thematised with the customers and the compensation is offered as a service. It can thereby be proven how much flows into the projects of <link - external-link "Opens external link in current window">Kuoni/DER Touristik</link>. Moreover, reference is made to myclimate compensation through various channels such as the Internet, catalogues and travel documents.

Your company also focuses intensively on climate protection as regards content. This is how the joint project on Bali came about. Please tell us a little about the background to this.

We have already supported a waste recycling project on Bali, which was started in 2004 and initiated by a Swiss person on site. In joint discussions, the idea then arose of striving for cooperation with myclimate to recognise the project as a climate project. This was a relatively complex process, since the methodology was new. But it worked in the end, and, on the one hand, we were able to create jobs on site, make a contribution to waste management on Bali and, at the same time, compensate our CO₂ emissions.

The structure of the company has changed greatly since the entry of the REWE Group in 2015, but what is changing in the orientation towards sustainability, including beyond climate protection?

Sustainability is of great importance to the <link - external-link "Opens external link in current window">rewe Group</link> and to DER Touristik Suisse AG. For example, the four specialists from DER Touristik Suisse AG (<link - external-link "Opens external link in current window">Manta Reisen</link>, <link - external-link "Opens external link in current window">asia365</link>, <link - external-link "Opens external link in current window">Dorado Latin Tours</link> and <link - external-link "Opens external link in current window">Private Safaris</link>) were recently awarded the <link - external-link "Opens external link in current window">TourCert</link> label. <link - external-link "Opens external link in current window">Kontiki </link>has already been certified since 2013.

DER Touristik Suisse is active at various levels: As a founding member of the roundtable Human Rights in Tourism, we are still active here; within the framework of the child protection code, we fight the commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism; we are committed to the protection of animals and species and support educational projects at home and abroad via the <link - external-link "Opens external link in current window">FLY & HELP foundation</link> and <link - external-link "Opens external link in current window">Winterhilfe Schweiz</link>.

What role can (and must?) companies play in tourism to enable both sustainable development in the regions and a climate-friendly future?

It is our responsibility to increase the sustainability of the travel products, offer a wide selection of sustainable travel to our customers and inform them about this. We also work closely with partner hotels with the goal of improving their sustainability. It is also our responsibility to increase local value creation, in environmental protection, child protection and fair working conditions.

To reduce the impact of a trip on the climate, we offer our customers the possibility of compensating the CO₂ emissions that have occurred during air or sea travel.

To finish, please complete the following sentence: "In a few years, in Switzerland DER Touristik Suisse will stand for:…"

...for the leading sustainable tour operator

In September 2015, REWE Zentralfinanz eG took over the Swiss traditional company Kuoni with the travel sector DER Touristik Group. DER Touristik Group generates a turnover of 5.4 billion francs annually and takes 7.1 million guests to their travel destination. It is part of the REWE Group, the third-largest trading company in Germany. The sales network of DER Touristik Suisse includes over 80 Kuoni, Helvetic Tours and rewi travel agencies all over Switzerland. DER Touristik Suisse has a wide range of tourism offers with the brands Kuoni, Helvetic Tours and ten specialist brands.

Kuoni has been offering its customers the possibility of compensating the emissions associated with air and sea travel through myclimate projects since 2007. The travel operator supports the project "Less deforestation of the rainforest thanks to efficient stoves" in Kenya. The project "Composting avoids methane emissions" was made possible jointly on Bali.

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