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Sean Owens

Sean OwensSean Owens is a tourism and hospitality professional with unique international experiences and insight. He started his career in the US in 1991 with leading multinational hotel groups such as the Four Seasons. With general management experience of resort hotels in Greece, followed by the achievement of an MSc in Responsible Tourism Management, he is highly regarded for his achievements in sustainable development strategy at the UK division of TUI Travel PLC, the world’s largest tour operator.

In 2014, Sean joined Team Tourism as a valued associate, offering a rare combination of extensive tourism sector knowledge and expertise in sustainable development.

Projects in which he has played a key role whilst at TUI include:

  • Minimum Standards for Sustainability in Quality Ratings in Cyprus: supported the Travel Foundation in strategy and workshops/presentations. Formal introduction in 2014.
  • ‘Taste of Fethiye’ in Turkey: a five-year Travel Foundation programme (2010-14), ensuring sustainable livelihoods for local farmers, while helping improve hotel food quality and profitability.
  • Optimising Sustainability in TUI Mainstream Tourism Hotels (worldwide): oversight of 18-month project that yielded average savings of £42K per year at 46 hotels.
  • Local economic development in Mexico (Travel Foundation): helping an indigenous community create a viable tourism business (‘Jungle Jams’) via the production and sales of traditional preserves.

During his six years with TUI Travel, Sean played an instrumental role in advancing the understanding and practice of sustainability in the mainstream tourism industry in the UK and beyond. He introduced the Sustainable Tourism Contract Addendum in 2009, which for the first time committed hotels to incorporate sustainability practice into their operations. In 2011, he was lead author of the TUI Travel PLC Guidelines for Environmental Sustainability in Hotels.

More recently, in his first major undertaking as a consultant, Sean is working with PwC and the Travel Foundation, in the application of PwC’s Total Impact Measurement and Management (TIMM) framework, assessing the totality of impact of TUI Travel’s operations in Cyprus.

Sean was an active member of the ABTA (UK Travel Association) Sustainable Tourism Committee from 2008 to 2014, and has developed considerable expertise in sustainable tourism certification schemes, in particular Travelife. In 2014, he co-ordinated TUI UK’s audit preparations, leading to it becoming the first UK tour operator to achieve Travelife for Tour Operators certification.

He enters tourism consultancy in 2014, offering a unique perspective on sustainable development, shaped by his own experiences as a destination stakeholder, as well as his experiences as a practitioner focused on destinations. He has worked with certification schemes, hotel groups, communities, NGOs and tourism boards worldwide. He holds an MSc in Responsible Tourism Management from Leeds Metropolitan University.

Key areas of expertise

Tourism strategy and destination development, management and marketing; Restructuring and Re-engineering of Tourism Organisations; e-Business, including e-marketing; Business planning, including marketing planning; Conference marketing and development; Visitor services re-engineering/ commercialisation; Research design + research management and delivery.

Sean Owens