Booking Cares Fund 2019 : Final Announcement

As mentioned in our last blog, over the course of four days last week, 8 teams from around the world were challenged to finish off an ambitious project plan to drive innovation in the sustainable tourism industry.

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The program culminated with one on one interviews with the Judges, to discuss more about the details in their project plan.  

Based on their final project plans, projects awarded funding were: 

Waves, Recycling Ocean plastic into sustainable design

Reflow | The Netherlands

  • This project will conduct research and testing to produce high quality 3D printing filaments directly from contaminated ocean waste, in collaboration with non-profits focusing on ocean cleanup, biodiversity and conservation.

The hotel as a lighthouse for sustainable tourist behaviour

Innovation Lighthouse | The Netherlands

  • This project will test existing innovations (smart showers, lights, air quality), both technical and behavioral, in a real-life test hotel room with real guests from all over the world, measuring the environmental, social and economic impacts of the innovations. In this way, successful innovations can be rolled out to more hotel rooms and those innovations that do not perform as expected can be improved based on learnings and data collected from the study.

REEFhabilitation: A Scalable Approach to Engage Tourists as Agents of Positive Change for Coral Reefs

The Nature Conservancy | USA

  • The Nature Conservancy will work with our local partners to enlist thousands of tourists as coral gardeners to restore degraded dive sites, develop new dive locations, and disperse tourism away from the few remaining healthy reefs that receive the bulk of diver traffic. Specifically, the goal is to develop a replicable program of gold standard best practices to create opportunities for tourists and diving operators to serve as agents of positive change for coral reefs.

Khwela Youth Tourism Stars

Khwela Tourism Stars | South Africa

  • The second stage of the project (developing out their curriculum and a lighter framework of learning as well as a Khwela Playbook) will take the learnings and successes of the pilot project and scale to more regions (Johannesburg) while doubling impact in Cape Town.

Accessible Beaches in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Accessible Network | Costa Rica

  • The goal of this project is to create an environment where people with disabilities and their families are able to live the physical and emotional benefits of getting into the ocean. This project will create and design a prototype of what an accessible beach should be so that it can be replicated for beaches everywhere.

Champions of Change for Elephants and Community Coexistence in Tourism

Mahouts Elephant Foundation | Thailand

  • Mahouts Elephant Foundation will test a unique safari-style model of elephant tourism in direct partnership with Karen indigenous mahouts, empowering them with training and tools to develop ecotourism programs to support their families and their elephants in their home village, rather than selling their elephants or renting them to elephant tourism camps.

The teams will now work hard to bring their project plans to life and implement their proposed solutions for the tourism industry. 

"This grant is a game changer for not only our team, but also the tourism and conservation sectors. Our aim is to enlist tourists as agents of positive change for coral reefs, empowering them to rebuild degraded reefs through an exciting new sustainable tourism product. Over the 4-day Booking Cares Fund program we worked closely with a diversity of experts from Booking.com to hone our project and ensure it has a positive, lasting impact on tourism and conservation." - Dr. Joseph Pollock, Director of Coral Strategy, The Nature Conservancy in the Caribbean

“Winning the grant means a big happy dance at HQ! Dancing because we are celebrating our ability to make a difference to young women in South Africa to join our AFRICAN Sisterhood. Khwela and Booking.com share a vision to empower people to experience the world - which is exactly what we’ll be able to do more of. We got to network with different change makers, who have inspiring stories. We learnt and grew this week during the program, and shifted our perspective on the potential impact of our program.” Asanda Daraza, Co Founder, Khwela Tourism Stars

Other projects that participated in the Booking Cares Fund and brought their knowledge and passion to Amsterdam were Greener Hotel Supplies (UK) and Seeds & Sounds (Venezuela).

Each team will have continued connection to Booking.com from their Booking.com mentor and have ongoing access to the Booking.com volunteer programme.

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We are so inspired by the work that these teams have done in the past 4 days and on their potential impact on the tourism industry - we can’t wait to see the amazing impact they will make!