Project Discovery is one way TUI employees can play their part, make a difference and maybe even discover their smile!

Each year, a few individuals are given the opportunity to volunteer their time to a project run by the Travel Foundation, our charity partner for sustainability in destinations.

Colleagues take part in a two week project within one of our destinations, bringing their skills and expertise they use in their day to day roles, to make a difference to local communities around the world

Our first project is already underway, two of our head office employees – Alex Morris, Senior Retail Marketing Manager and Rosie Sumner, Product Manager – jetted off to sunny Cancun on 9 August.

Mexico is fast becoming one of the most popular holiday destinations for TUI holidaymakers – but behind the glitz and glamour of Cancun’s hotel zone, live traditional communities whose lives have been dramatically changed since the arrival of mass tourism in the region over the past forty years.

Here they explain what they’ve been up to so far:

‘Our project is building upon the success of the Jungle Jams project. We are supporting a local Maya cooperative, ‘Muuch Kaab’, to sell their honey-based products to tourism-focused businesses and the domestic community. This provides the community with the opportunity to earn a living from tourism, without the need to move away from their villages and families. The project also supports the conservation efforts of the Melipona honey bee, a unique stingless bee that is in danger of becoming extinct.

Our aim is to support the development of Muuch Kaab’s branding and marketing, whilst guiding hotels on communicating ‘buying locally’ to their guests.’

Alex says…
‘From day one we’ve been really busy – meeting the local Travel Foundation representatives, visiting the rural community where the project is based, meeting local hoteliers and talking to customers to understand their views on sustainability practices and local produce’.
Rosie says…
‘For me it’s been an incredible experience to understand how these women have overcome so many challenges and yet still managed to grow their business so successfully from scratch. There’s such a huge contrast between the simple lives they lead in their village, and the hustle and bustle of Cancun which is just an hour’s drive away. It’s a side to Cancun that tourists never really get to see, and it’s really made me realise how important it is that TUI as a tour operator and the wider tourism industry here in Mexico work together to support communities like this’.
Alex says…
One of the highlights of the trip has been delivering a branding and marketing workshop to the Muuch Kaab women – we decided to use similar techniques to how we would normally work here in head office, with mood boards and sample beauty products for them to touch and feel. We gathered some really useful feedback on what they want their brand to look like going forwards and sketched out some new designs for them. It was a unique experience and one I’ll never forget’.

Rosie and Alex have a few more days remaining in Cancun, when they’ll be visiting the members of Muuch Kaab one last time to share their findings and feedback, and visiting some local hoteliers to deliver their recommendations on how they improve the communication of their local procurement policies.

And it’s not all hard work, as Rosie explains:
‘Although our itinerary is jam packed with meetings and report writing, we have a few days off whilst we’re here – we’re planning to visit Isla Mujeres on our last day and we’ve also been out visiting some of our other key hotel concepts in between exploring the local area – we’re trying to fit in as much as possible before we head back to our desks in Luton!’