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Climate change is with us. It is something we now have to learn to live with. Climate change will have profound consequences for businesses in our sector and people and wildlife in originating markets and destinations. We must also find ways to reduce the amount of carbon that people travelling and on holiday cause to be emitted. We have to change the production and consumption of tourism – travel, accommodation, attractions and activities all need to act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Through the Awards, we would like to showcase examples of technologies, management systems and ways of changing consumer behaviour that has demonstrably reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Gold: Killarney Park Hotel, Ireland
The judges recognised that this family-owned and operated hotel had worked tirelessly to reduce its carbon emissions. Powered by renewable energy, regularly serviced boilers and equipment to ensure optimum efficiency, sensor lights and timers for lighting in fridges, freezers, offices and less used areas, boilers run at 60 degrees. Daily energy walks ensure unused equipment is turned off and turned down. They run regular energy awareness and water conservation programmes with staff; communicate with guests about energy usage and towel/sheet changes in the rooms; and promote longer stays and repeat local business over international travel through emails, online offers and ezines. They provide transfers and tours in electric vehicles and offer a complimentary zero-waste cocktail to those that take the train, cycle, or electric vehicle to reach the hotel. The judges were impressed by the thorough approach taken by the hotel management in reducing carbon emissions and the sheer range of means they use. Much good practice is demonstrated here, all of it replicable by large and small hotels.
Silver: Audley Travel, UK
Working with the carbon emissions company ecollective they have measured their Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and discovered that at least 96% of their total carbon footprint sits in their Scope 3 emissions, the majority of which comes from client travel. Since 2007 they have offset all staff business flights using verified Gold Standard carbon credits through ClimateCare.Since 2009 they have encouraged their clients to offset their flights by adding an option to offset in their trip quote. They are encouraging their clients to travel to London airport by hybrid taxis. They are identifying sustainable experiences for their clients as Athari (impact in Swahili), those with a particularly positive impact on local communities and their environment. Audley Travel has set a goal of a 68% reduction in their Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 2030, from a 2019 baseline, in line with the Paris Agreement target. Audley Travel offers no standard itineraries, offering only tailor-made tours. This makes carbon reduction more difficult. On the other hand, as they recognise, it creates opportunities to encourage clients to make low-carbon choices. Audley Travel will commit to Science Based Targets later this year, and the judges hope they will apply again next year.
Silver: The Travel Corporation, USA
The Travel Corporation operates 1,500+ itineraries through 40 brands and has a significant direct carbon footprint from its owned assets. Its Scope 1 & 2 emissions include those from 20+ offices, 18 Red Carnation Hotels, 13 Uniworld ships, 6 accommodation facilities, 500+ vehicles, and the employees' air business travel. In 2020, TTC worked with Synergy Enterprises to develop a customised "Trip Carbon Calculator" to measure the average carbon footprint of their trips based on a representative sample of 165 trips. The judges were pleased to see that they are explicit about what they regard as in and out of scope and the sources that they use for emission factors. In May 2022, TreadRight Foundation, The Travel Corporation's sustainability initiative, reported on its progress towards meeting its sustainability goals, which include achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 and sourcing 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025. In 2021 their total Scope 1&2 emissions were 29,523 tCO2e, and their Scope 3 emissions were 18,948 tCO2e. The Travel Corporation has committed to moving to Science Based Targets later this year, and the judges hope they will apply again next year.
One to Watch: Explore Worldwide
Explore's target is a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030. Explore measured the carbon emissions of over 400 trips, including accommodation, transport, meals and activities, and all operations involved in running the business, both in the UK and globally. The Product Team at Explore logged more than 400 hours, adding nearly 10,000 lines of data to be processed and fact-checked by ecollective. Explore calculated almost 2,000 accommodation types and 24 types of transport. They are engaging their clients and working collaboratively with their partners in their supply chain to bring them along to reduce carbon emissions. The judges hope to see a further application when there are some results to share.
We recognise that the pandemic is far from over, and as the World Health Organization rightly reminds us, we are not safe until we are all safe. It will take many more months before travel and holiday volumes recover to whatever the "new normal" will be. We are aware that many businesses and organisations in the travel and tourism sector have worked hard to sustain their employees and the communities in which they operate with really positive impacts around the world. Many of these efforts have involved others in their supply chain and consumers. We would like to recognise and draw attention to those who have successfully helped others, employees and neighbours alike, to weather the storm.
Gold: Cinnamon Hotels, Sri Lanka
Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts is one of Sri Lanka's largest hospitality chains, with fifteen hotels & resorts across Sri Lanka and the Maldives with over 2,400 rooms. In June 2021, they launched 'Meals that Heal', providing free meals to low-income households and poverty-stricken communities. They have worked in partnership with the Sri Lanka Red Cross, to provide front-line workers in the COVID-19 pandemic with free meals. Locations included: Maligawatta Hospital, Wethara Hospital, Homagama Hospital, Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH), Kahathuduwa MOH, Kolonnawa MOH, Nawagamuwa Hospital, Athurugiriya Hospital, Kosgama Hospital, Hanwella MOH and to the Disinfection team.
Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts has donated to neighbouring communities, flood victims, healthcare workers and children's orphanages with the support of organisations and partners such as Union Assurance, Sri Lanka Red Cross and Sri Lanka Police. The initiative has donated over 10,000 meals in the last twelve months to destitute community members in the Colombo and Greater Colombo areas.
In the Awards last year, we saw several destinations which were beginning to rethink the tourist volumes and market segments that they will attract post-Covid and some who were considering demarketing. The apparently inexorable increase in visitor numbers has been halted by the pandemic. Many destinations have had a "breather". A reminder of what their place was like before the hordes arrived. An opportunity to rethink tourism and perhaps to decide to use tourism rather than be used by it.
Gold: Royal Mountain Travel, Nepal
The judges were impressed by this initiative which is very replicable. Royal Mountain Travel is a Nepalese tour operator founded in 2005, guided by three core values: Community Empowerment, Environmental Stewardship and Giving Back. Their commitment to empowering communities led to the establishment of a Community Homestay Network, which began as a part of their CSR work. With the support of a Booking.com booster grant to kick-start the platform, it has grown into an independent social enterprise that helps to empower women all over Nepal, creating entrepreneurship opportunities and employment among the locals. The platform creates opportunities for rural communities to connect with travellers, allowing them to experience the benefits of tourism and developing their communities as tourism destinations. The project has promoted 36 community homestays, run by 508 women and directly employed 768 local people. They have channelled more than 5500 travellers to community homestays in Nepal.
Royal Mountain Travel invests in developing programmes that promote women's empowerment, boost their self-esteem and confidence, and provide them with career opportunities. During the pandemic, they brought in many projects to rebuild the skills of tour leaders by conducting sustainability, yoga, and meditation workshops. These workshops helped them re-engage in the tourism sector after nearly 20 months of absence and equipped them with new skills that will further aid them in delivering more professional and alternative services after business resumes.
The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the amount of single-use plastic, adding to the plastic waste crisis. Plastic waste is now entering the food chain of other species as well as ours. Once plastic enters watercourses, it ends in gyros of garbage in the oceans, on beaches and in the stomachs of fish we then eat. The industry needs to do more to reduce its use of single-use plastics and take responsibility and work with local communities and their governments to capture waste plastic with nets and floating barriers and upcycle it for cobbles, furniture and crafts.
Gold: PT Pran Indo Permata Abadi (P.I.P.A.)
PT PIPA is a water sustainability consultant working in Jakarta since 1998.The Hotel Mercure Convention Center, known as Ancol Dreamland, is located in North Jakarta, the largest integrated tourism area in South East Asia, boasting an international championship golf course, a theme park, hotels and other recreational facilities. Ancol Dreamland, welcomed 15 million visitors in 2019. In Indonesia, drinking water is traditionally sold in plastic bottles or gallons and is sold 10 times more expensively than the actual cost of the water. It is mainly produced in Java and delivered by thousands of trucks to their final destinations as far as Papua, 4.000 kms away. Papua has 70% of the country's water reserves but buys drinking water from Java.
COVID19 contamination risks were due to poor logistic practices PT PIPA developed an integrated solution to hotels enabling them to scale-up recycling and reuse, by producing their own drinking water at their location from their own water resources and without using plastic bottles. The solution is a unique purification technology associated with a series of steps to clean, sanitise, fill, cap and seal glass bottles at the hotel location. This results in a reduced carbon footprint, reduces energy costs, eliminates potential viral contamination during transportation, and reduces the cost of the water. Accor Hotels Group's CEO committed to the United Nations to remove all single-use plastic items from its 4,300 hotels, and the business-as-usual model was broken.
Silver: Futurismo Azores Adventures, Azores
Futurismo Azores Adventures is a family-owned business. The largest Azorean operator funded a year-long citizen science project collecting and analysing trash in coastal and natural areas. The four families who collected the most trash were rewarded with a weekend in one of the best hotels on the island of São Miguel. The initiative has raised awareness of the issue and engaged families, schools and associations. To date, 50 participants have collected 250kg of garbage, much of it plastic. The judges were impressed by the effort to engage children and young people and using citizen science.
Silver: TUI Care Foundation, Cyprus
The TUI Care Foundation worked with the Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative (CSTI) and the Travel Foundation to deliver "Destination Zero Plastic in Cyprus - Sand and Sea Plastic Free Project". Cyprus produces 92,588 tonnes of plastic waste annually, 94 kg per capita per year, well above the European average of 64 kg per capita per year. Moreover, 80% of the waste found on Cyprus beaches is plastic and microplastics found on all beaches in Cyprus and 17 marine nesting points. The project worked with the tourism sector to reduce demand for and consumption of single-use plastics - such as plastic straws, cups, cutlery
and hotel toiletries; as well as to raise awareness of the issue with residents, school children and tourists in order to reduce demand. 95.5% of the 85 businesses which engaged made at least one positive change or reduction in the period 2019-2021 and many made multiple changes and reductions. Plastic straw use was reduced by 98%, plastic cups by 61%, and plastic cutlery by 71%. The single-use plastic procured by tourism businesses was reduced by 70%, amounting to 936,271 kg. The launch of two plastic-free beaches is worthy of replication and the judges were impressed by the plans for the next few years.
Silver: Costa Navarino, Greece
Costa Navarino is a high end resort development spread over 1,000 h in Messinia in the southwest Peloponnese. Costa Navarino's responsible tourism team, alongside WWF Greece, have carried out a first full inventory report on the reduction of plastics at the destination since April 2020. In 2021, Costa Navarino reduced the use of single-use plastics, compared to its base year (2019) by 2.3 tonnes., if Covid-related plastics are excluded, it reduced plastic use by approx 5.7 tonnes. Analysis revealed that the largest component of plastic waste was PET bottles and then plastic cups, food containers and amenities. In 2021, the use of PET plastic bottles was reduced by 50%, food containers by 30% and other single-use plastics (straws, cotton buds, cutlery etc) by 99.5%. Costa Navarino's Global Tourism Plastics Initiative is also working with suppliers and the supply chain to ensure that all plastic items entering the destination are fully reusable, recyclable or compostable or include as much recyclable content as possible until 2025.
There is still a place for CSR1.0 and philanthropy, as is evident from last year's Sustaining Employees and Communities through the Pandemic category. However, by adapting the way they do business, accommodation providers and tour operators can create additional market opportunities for local communities in their supply chains and create opportunities to sell goods and services directly to tourists. This diversifies the local economy and enriches the destination in both senses, creating additional livelihoods for locals and a richer range of activities, food and drink, and craft and art products for tourists. Destinations can assist these changes by, amongst other things, providing micro-finance, training and mentoring, creating market places and performance spaces and providing marketing assistance.
Gold: Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge, South Africa
Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge is in the Northern Drakensberg of South Africa and provides overnight accommodation and access to hiking the region's most famous trails. Witsieshoek was about to be closed by its community owners, the Sesotho Batlokoa, when TFPD was awarded the concession to manage and market the property in 2011. Since reopening in 2011, Witsieshoek has tracked the local economic benefit created by the Lodge and reported a Regional Economic Benefit of R77,7m over the past 12 years. 46% of the value results from local procurement policies and practices. During the refurbishment, a buy-local policy was mandated. Support was provided to upskill and capacitate local businesses where the services did not exist. As a result, a team of local seamstresses was trained to make curtains and extended their business beyond just the clothing they had previously made. Tefo Magasane, the potter, developed a range of functional ceramics to create a unique bedside light base and several unique décor items. And the local home carpet weavers not only supplied the bedside and décor rugs for Witsieshoek but were also commissioned by other Lodges managed by TFPD to provide handmade rugs. While the economic bounty of the refurbishment period came to an end in 2016 the entrepreneurs who skilled up during this period had the resources to continue their businesses.
With 96% of the staff employed from the local area, this money goes directly into the local economy, where it generates another cycle of economic activity. The average salary at Witsieshoek supports seven people. The Principle Traditional Leader of the Batlokoa has maintained a policy that funds earned from the turnover and profit levies must be invested to build a capital reserve before any significant expenditures could be incurred. This financial prudence turned into a lifeline for the Lodge during Covid when the Lodge borrowed those funds to keep staff paid. All Covid-era loans from the community trust have been repaid with interest. This mature commercial relationship between the commercial operation and the community leadership is a key indicator of a sustainable and progressive business with a strong future.
One to Watch: Better Places, Netherlands
Like most travel agencies, Better Places used to base their impact claims on assumptions, like "we promote 'meet the local activities, which results in cultural exchange and local spending. They are introducing an impact measurement to record how many activities are actually booked per itinerary and country. In the near future, they plan to measure how much is spent locally on these activities and publish the results annually. Better Places donates 10% of its profits to charitable causes. In 2020 working with travel experts in seventeen countries, they raised €85,000 for Covid relief for those hardest hit by the pandemic. The judges were very interested in this impact measurement reporting tool and hope to see another entry from Better Places when the results are ready.
One of the aspirations of Responsible Tourism is to enable everyone to participate in tourism, whether as a traveller, holidaymaker or employee. The differently-abled are often identified as a wealthy market segment, but many are not. Disability excludes many from taking a holiday often for multiple reasons, including cost. For the travel and tourism industry to be fully inclusive and enable families to travel together, it needs to ensure access for those with a range of disabilities and enhance their experience. Too often excluded from employment in our industry, the differently-abled have skills to offer.
Gold: Ilunion Hotels, Spain
Ilunion Hotels has 13 Special Employment Center hotels, in which more than 70% of its employees have some type of disability. The hotel chain is 100% accessible to any disability,. With 29 hotels throughout Spain, it has, since its foundation in 1998, been a pioneer in the tourism sector, creating spaces for everyone and successfully serving as a model for labour integration. In this way, it focuses on two of the fundamental pillars that define Ilunion Hotels: equality and inclusion in the workplace. In 2019, they launched their 'Hotels with Everyone Inclusive' campaign. Its main objective is to transmit to the customer the chain's concern for the inclusion of people with disabilities.
One to Watch: Asian Trails Thailand
Asian Trails is a destination management company headquartered in Bangkok. In 2021 they looked into the practical development of wheelchair-friendly products in Thailand, responding to a request from an Italian outbound operator. They took the opportunity to develop a blueprint for checking out other possible destinations and itineraries to develop reliable, trustworthy, and tested wheelchair tours. A range of accessible tours and excursions has been developed and is ready to be promoted to agents and clients as tourism resumes post-pandemic "ATT Accessible Products." They have developed a wheelchair-accessible checklist and a set of inclusive language and imagery guidelines and established a student challenge, a WACE Global Challenge, focused on tourism and accessibility.
One to Watch: InOut Hostel, Spain
InOut Hostel is a Special Center for Hotel and Catering Work opened in 2005, by Icària Iniciatives Socials, a non-profit dedicated to the education and social and labour integration of differently abled young people and adults. 90% of the workforce is differently abled, all working full-time and with permanent contracts, and there is gender equality. The judges were interested to see this initiative and hope to see a further application about the group as a whole and its expansion.
Charismatic wildlife is a big draw for many travellers and the enjoyment of natural heritage forms at least part of many trips. Many have wildlife as the core attraction. Tourists want to see the charismatic megafauna, which can no longer be seen, in the wild in their home country. National parks and wildlife areas with elephants, lions, tigers and bears exist only where local communities bear the opportunity costs of not farming the land or extracting resources from it.
Rarely do visitors contribute enough to cover the total costs of their enjoyment of the wildlife, with local communities excluded from the reserve seeing it only when their crops are damaged. The activities of tourists as photo safaris "hunt" charismatic megafauna too often disturb the hunting, mating, eating and breeding of wildlife. We are looking to recognise businesses and destinations, parks and conserved areas where tourism is "net positive", investing in the natural heritage, ensuring that local communities benefit, facilitating visits to see the wildlife for local children or adults, and where drivers and guides are effectively minimising wildlife disturbance.
One to Watch: Exodus, UK
Exodus is a UK outbound operator offering adventure and special interest active itineraries, one of the first to adopt a Responsible Tourism policy over twenty years ago. In September 2021, they launched their Nature First commitment, an ambitious plan to ensure Exodus adventures are Nature Net Positive by 2024. They have long used ecolodges and small hotels and an animal welfare policy. They are addressing their carbon emissions, 82% of their trips 'are now free of directly provided single-use plastics'. On the other 18%, on average 4 pieces of single-use plastic are provided to customers during their trips; primarily plastic bottles (increased use since covid), single-use plastic wrapping and single-use plastic cups or plates. They have expanded their support for Rewilding Europe's work from the Nature and Carbon Corridors Project in Europe to their rewilding work into the Velebit Mountains, Croatia; supported a Free to Roam project in Tsavo National Park; and in India a Tiger Habitat Project and a Fruit Tree Project. The judges were impressed to see a tourism business setting out to be nature positive and hope that Exodus will apply again when their initiative is more established.
When people travel, they often use more water than they do at home, partly as a consequence of being at leisure in accommodation designed to encourage indulgence and partly because they are unaware of the local supply issues, a problem compounded by people holidaying in drier, more arid areas.
The judges are looking for examples of businesses and destinations which are reducing water consumption per guest, recycling and reusing greywater, businesses providing potable water for neighbours, and destinations raising awareness of water scarcity, measuring consumption by the sector or managing reduction.
The Therme Group builds and manages well-being resorts that combine water, nature and technology, creating a unique immersive environment. Building on ancient traditions of thermal bathing, Therme has revolutionised the product to dramatically reduce its environmental impacts whilst making the experiences available to a much broader public, and including children of all ages alongside seniors. This blended experience includes water-based activities with fitness programming, attractions, well-being therapies, art and culture, botanics, food and nutrition.
At Therme Bucharest, advanced filtration methods ensure that the water is fully recirculated twice a day., 92% of the water used is recycled with just 8% leaving the site as wastewater. . At Therme Bucharest, geothermal water is extracted from a depth of more than 3100m. Ozone treatment reduces the need to add artificial chemical purifiers, such as chlorine. Ozone is three times more effective than chlorine at neutralising microbes, bacteria, and viruses and leaves no unpleasant odours for guests. Therme's water purification processes enable them to filter the entire water volume of Therme Bucharest (4,300 m2) multiple times a day. Because the geothermal water is extracted at very high temperatures (over 70°C), using heat-exchange technology, they can use the water to heat the buildings and pools, significantly reducing Therme Bucharest's overall energy needs.
Silver: Hilton Grand Vacations
Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV) is a leading global timeshare company with headquarters in Orlando, Florida. They have worked with the We Are Water Foundation (WAW) to find innovative ways of reducing water use. Their "Let's make a Deal" invites owners and guests to save 16 litres of water by reusing towels and 20 litres when limiting their linen changes, producing a 14% reduction in water consumption. In Spain, France and Italy installed water filters in all accommodations (1,554 filters) by the main kitchen sinks and branded 5,000 aluminium water bottles to discourage staff from using plastic bottles. Bottles are also sold, with proceeds to WAW. The resorts have reduced water consumption by 11.18% since 2016. 86% of toilets have dual-flush; 79% have low-flow showers and 85% have mixer taps with flow reducers; 49% still have a bathtub, but these are replaced with showers in all refurbished accommodations. Twenty resorts have swimming pool showers with timers; 8t resorts have autochthonous plants to avoid excess watering, and drip irrigation waters gardens and common areas in 16 resorts. The judges were impressed by the range of initiatives being rolled out across the estate and the reporting of water consumption reductions.
Tourism can contribute to the maintenance of living and built cultural heritage creating additional revenue through entrance fees, encouraging donations from visitors, or encouraging investment in heritage to attract tourists and day visitors. But it is not just about financial resources. The interest of visitors in local heritage can remind communities of the value of their built and living heritage and ensure that it is valued and conserved for future generations. Through the purchase of locally produced art and craft, tourists can make a significant contribution to maintain a thriving and developing culture from painting to wood carving and from fine art to agriculture.
The judges are looking for entries from businesses, museums, galleries or destinations where tourism is making a positive contribution to the conservation and development of built, exhibited or living cultural heritage or where negative impacts are managed and reduced, destinations where tourism is making a positive contribution.
Gold: Gorilla Highlands
Gorilla Highlands is a tour company operating in the transboundary region shared by Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo since 2011. Their partners from the Batwa "Pygmies" ethnic group are conservation refugees forced out of national parks to protect wildlife; Gorilla Highlands encourage them to share their traditional beliefs and skills, ensuring that their guests are not going to mock them as backward (just the opposite). Their annual cooking competition and networking event have resulted in local touches being applied to global cuisine. Gorilla Highlands' activities have motivated the youth of the region to research their culture and history to pursue a career in tourism; cultural heritage gets economic value.
Gorilla Highlands developed "Batwa Today a nature walk and a community interaction with the Batwa of Rwamahano on the edge of Echuya Forest Reserve. Countering the prevalent Disneyfication of Batwa experiences, the activity is focused on the people's present life instead of costume-based historical performances. The chat between the community and the visitors starts with introductions of everyone and can then take any direction the visitors or the Batwa are interested in. The Bakiga Museum: built by a local elder Festo Karwemera, is a painstaking recreation of a traditional homestead originally established to teach the youth of the Bakiga ethnic group about their cultural heritage. Gorilla Highlands added a backpacker hostel, a craft shop with an art gallery and a lounge restaurant to Karwemera's fabulous creation, upgrading it to a colourful cultural centre. They also made a documentary about the man and his fight for the local culture.
They have developed three camping-based homestays in remote areas, supporting host families and upgrading their facilities to serve guests doing multi-day hikes, or as an overnight experience. They have also created a dozen cultural tours focused on hiking and dugout canoeing, featuring a craft maker, a traditional healer, dancing troupes and other local partners who previously received few visitors.
One to Watch: Trans Bhutan Trail, Bhutan
The Trans Bhutan Trail (TBT) is a not-for-profit sustainable tourism initiative restoring an ancient Trail which spans 250 miles from Haa in the West to Trashigang in the East, for the benefit of its people. It reopened in September 2022. The Trans Bhutan Trail dates back to the 16th century and was formally the main route to travel across Bhutan. Traders, armies, pilgrims and messengers known as Garps would use the Trail to communicate and move between the different Dzongs (large fortresses housing royal and monastic bodies) that line it and the Trail was an essential lifeline for trade and communication between neighbouring villages. However, when the National Highway was built in the 1960s, the Trail fell into disuse. The judges recognised that this is an exciting project and would likw to see another application when it has been operating for a while and its current cultural value can be reported and assessed.
One to Watch: Japan-San
Kyoto by the Sea represents seven cities and towns in the northern Kyoto prefecture and undertakes regional promotion, town development and revival projects. Itt also acts as a bridge between the international travel industry and the local region. The boat house village of Ine is a unique village with 230 boat houses (funaya) built along the bay, which is a rarity in Japan. Ine is a village that is trying to balance traditional livelihoods and ways of life with a sharp increase in interest from tourists. To attract tourists who will appreciate and not damage the local culture, Japan-San has established the brand essence, 'The Origin of Japan', focusing on the wider region's cultural, artistic and culinary experiences. Tour Operators and DMC's commit to the Ine Pledge, a minimum two-night stay, the inclusion of at least one local experience - crafts, guided tours and sushi making – with a minimum value of at least 6,000 Yen per person (about £40) and a promise to inform and educate those visiting Ine about the history, culture and the importance of adhering to local cultural norms and standards of behaviour. The judges see this as a very innovative and promising approach to managing tourism responsibly. We hope to see a further entry when it is possible to judge the success of this new initiative.