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7 Sep, 2007

Campaign To Promote Workplace Wellness

The World Economic Forum has teamed up with the World Health Organization to launch a campaign to boost health and wellness in the workplace.

In this dispatch:

1. CAMPAIGN TO PROMOTE WORKPLACE WELLNESS: The World Economic Forum has teamed up with the World Health Organization to launch a campaign to boost health and wellness in the workplace, with a focus on chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory disease.

2. UNIQUE WAY OF PROMOTING A SECONDARY DESTINATION: Frustrated by the ongoing false perception that the 700 year-old city of Chiang Mai, in North Thailand, merits only a stopover, two foreign residents – an ex-UK tour operator and a former kindergarten teacher – have set about changing this.

3. AUSSIE BACKPACKER VISA OPENS DOORS TO YOUNG AMERICANS: A new reciprocal work and holiday visa which will allow young Americans to travel and work in Australia for up to a year will potentially open the door to thousands more backpackers.

4. EU EMISSIONS TRADING SCHEME PROPOSALS WILL HAVE “LITTLE IMPACT”: Current proposals to include aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme will have very little impact on aviation’s contribution to climate change, a new report by leading climate scientists warns.



Dalian, China, 6 September 2007 – Although the travel & tourism industry is now a major promoter of health and wellness, it may need to better monitor the health of its own staff and employees. Last week, the World Economic Forum teamed up with the World Health Organization event to launch a campaign designed to boost workplace health and wellness. Xihong Ai, Project Manager of the initiative, said “We view this as a key opportunity for stakeholders to come together to learn but also to create tangible solutions in both the developed and developing world.”

A report on workplace wellness launched at the Forum here says that chronic diseases (including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory disease) are the leading causes of death and disability around the world – causing double the number of deaths each year from all infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Only 20% of chronic disease deaths occur in high income countries – while 80% occur in low and middle income countries, where most of the world’s population lives. It is also growing rapidly among the most experienced employees — those between 45 and 59 years of age, the report says.

According to the World Health Organization, deaths from chronic disease are forecast to increase by 17% over the next 10 years. The economic consequences are significant: in 2005 alone, income loss caused by chronic diseases was around US$ 18 million in China, US$ 9 million in India and US$ 11 million in Russia. About 2% of capital spent on workforce is lost to disability, absenteeism and presenteeism caused by chronic diseases, and an equal amount is spent on the direct costs of healthcare.

The report called on business executives to lead the preventive efforts. It describes the trends of chronic disease around the world, highlights the likely impact on the productivity of staff, and outlines wellness strategies for a multinational organization, which are equally applicable to any company or institution. It can be downloaded in full from: http://www.weforum.org/pdf/Wellness/report.pdf

With increasingly global workforces and the growing amount of time spent at work, experts agree that the workplace is an essential place for effective prevention strategies including promoting long-term lifestyle and behaviour changes. The report says that the sedentary nature of much work today increases the risk of chronic disease.

The service sector employs three-quarters of all workers in developed nations and is expanding rapidly in the traditionally low-income economies, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). In 2005, 38.9% of all employees globally worked in the service sector — up from 34.5% in 1995 — and the ILO reports that service companies are expected to overtake agriculture as the largest employment sector globally. Service-sector employment has been increasing most rapidly in India and other developing nations with strong information technology (IT) businesses.

Many companies are designing and implementing wellness programmes. A conservative estimate of the benefits from improving general wellness of a workforce indicates a likely annual return of three to one or more. Cristóbal Conde, President and Chief Executive Officer of SunGard, which has more than 16,000 employees, was quoted as saying, “We believe wellness programmes can help companies reduce healthcare costs, increase employee productivity, attract talent and improve corporate image.”

With its high-stress lifestyles, round-the-clock operations and easy access to alcohol, the travel & tourism industry is enormously susceptible to workplace health problems. However, a Travel Impact Newswire survey of a number of travel & tourism companies, NTOs found little attention being paid to it.

According to Janet Voûte, CEO of the World Heart Federation, “China, with the world’s largest workforce and rapidly rising levels of chronic disease, is the most appropriate place to hold this meeting. There are already 300 million adult male smokers and 160 million hypertension sufferers.” Dr Catherine le Galès-Camus, Assistant Director-General at the World Health Organization added: “Healthy diets, physical activity and tobacco control are being promoted by governments around the world and everyone has a role in their prevention and control.” At the last WEF in Davos, Switzerland, last January, world business leaders were available to avail of voluntary individual health screening.

Corporate employee wellness programmes include a variety of fitness, nutrition and coaching programmes to meet different needs. Corporations face challenges in implementation, specifically, evaluation and monitoring, effective use of incentives, creating a supportive environment and knitting together a global strategy from often locally-based efforts.

The report entitled Working Towards Wellness: Accelerating the Prevention of Chronic Disease was prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. It sets out a framework for achieving best practice in global wellness based on interviews with leading multinationals in Australia, Brazil, China, Europe, India, South Africa and the United Kingdom, and offers five recommendations for business leaders:

1. Take the Pulse: Assess the health risks of the company’s employee populations across the world.

2. Imbed a Culture of Health into the Mission: To make a sustainable change, align health prevention principles within the long-term mission, business objectives and policies of the organization.

3. Manage the Change: Commit appropriate resources and discipline to effect measurable improvement in the health of the working population.

4. Collaborate and Consolidate: Enhance the focus, communication and effectiveness of wellness programmes by collaborating outside the organization and supporting and leveraging programmes in the community.

5. Lead by Example: Executives – starting with the CEO and through to unit heads – can demonstrate their personal commitment to a healthy work environment by actively engaging with employees and their communities on health initiatives while walking the path of a healthy life.



Destination promotion is traditionally the task of National Tourist Organisations, but something quite new, perhaps unique is happening in Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand. Frustrated by the ongoing false perception that the 700 year-old city merits only a stopover, two foreign residents – an ex-UK tour operator and a former kindergarten teacher – have set about changing this.

In an overall theme of Children helping Children, they invited students from an international school in Chiang Mai to create original paintings depicting why ‘Chiang Mai is a Wonderful Place to Live’ This resulted in 93 entries from all ages and nationalities, thirteen of which were selected for inclusion in a not-for-profit 40-page 14-month full colour desk calendar, spanning December 2007-January 2009. Artworks were done free of charge by a local magazine, and the printing company agreed to print at cost.

The sponsor-free calendar contains no advertising, and is spiced with around 2000 words of original text, highlighting the city’s rich history, and relative inaccessibility for centuries: ‘The railway line did not reach the city until 1921, and the last stretch of paved road was not completed until 1972 … extraordinary to think that in the previous year the Apollo 15 crew had already driven vehicles on the moon’

It reminds us that in 2005, ‘Travel+Leisure’ readers voted Chiang Mai into fifth place in the list of ‘world’s best cities’ – ahead of New York and San Francisco, and that: ‘Spending only a couple of nights here is like going to a famous restaurant and leaving after the soup’ It acknowledges that the Asian economic building boom has had an impact, but quickly adds that: ‘High buildings, highways and hypermarkets bow deferentially to antiquity, and in many cases their clumsy presence only serves to intensify the beauty of the city’s historical monuments – ancient chedis or graceful spires gloriously upstaging trendy modern architecture’

The combination of compelling text and charming paintings provides the city with a powerful marketing tool, destined to find its way into homes and offices all over the world. But the story does not end here. The colourful calendar sells for 100 Baht (approx US$3) and as soon as the print costs are covered, every single cent will go the charities for children in the north of Thailand. Additionally, all 93 paintings will be sold, and the proceeds added to the charity pot.

So why do the creators of this admirable initiative wish to remain behind the scenes? “The calendar is all about helping poor kids and promoting the city, not about us” comes the ready answer. “The only names on it belong to the students who painted the pictures, and they are the real creators. All we desire is for like-minded people to support us by buying the calendar so we can fully realise our 4-point objective: a) Initially, to encourage well-off children to help others in a ‘create and donate’ concept; b) To put Chiang Mai on the world map as a prime destination in its own right for leisure, conferences, medical tourism, high quality purchases, sports, education, studies, and many other aspects, not least, an ideal place for. permanent retirement. c) To raise funds for disadvantaged Thai children; and d) To further motivate the kids who donated the paintings to continue doing worthwhile things – by letting them experience the thrill of their own success.”

This is already happening, with many individual sales, and several companies ordering personalised ‘With Compliments’ slips bound-in to the calendar to use as corporate giveaways to clients. More details of the “Chiang Mai Charity Calendar” are available on their simple ‘home-made’ web site at: http://chiangmaicalendar.googlepages.com together with galleries of all 93 paintings submitted by the students. E-Mail enquiries: chiangmaicalendar@gmail.com



A new reciprocal work and holiday visa which will allow young Americans to travel and work in Australia for up to a year will potentially open the door to thousands more backpackers a peak tourism industry body has said. The Australian Tourism Export Council has welcomed the announcement that the visa, long under consideration, was expected to come into operation as of October 31.

Chair of ATEC’s Backpacker Tourism Advisory Panel (BTAP) and head of YHA NSW, Julian Ledger, said the backpacker industry, through BTAP, had been lobbying for the introduction of such a visa for a number of years. “We have been working closely with the Department of Immigration and its Tourism Visa Advisory Group on this initiative so the news that the visa will be implemented is fantastic for our backpacking industry,” Mr Ledger said.

“Backpackers are one of Australia’s key markets with more than half a million visiting Australia in the year to March 2007 spending $2.8 billion dollars. More than 48,000 US backpackers travelled in Australia in the year to March and this new visa means the potential to grow this market is significant.”

Mr Ledger said American backpackers had long been a significant market for Australia, but the length of time they could stay had been limited unless they held a student or sponsored visa which allowed for restricted work opportunities. “The prospect for Americans aged between 18 and 30 to spend up to a year working and travelling in Australia will have multiple benefits – from filling crucial labour shortages, particularly in regional areas, to increasing cultural understanding between our two countries,” he said.

ATEC Managing Director Matthew Hingerty said the reciprocal visa would also have long-term positive effects for US/Australia trade relations. “As today’s young Australians and young Americans – who are tomorrow’s business and political leaders – spend more time travelling and building contacts between our two countries we will see the emergence of long-term trade benefits,” Mr Hingerty said.

“We will have a whole new generation of Americans who will have a first-hand love for and understanding of Australia, who will have friends and roots here, and who will hopefully return to visit again and again throughout their lives. This new generation of American travellers will be the world’s future leaders and will have a wider understanding of the world that their parents never had the opportunity for.”



Current proposals to include aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme will have very little impact on aviation’s contribution to climate change, a new report by leading climate scientists warns. The UK-based environmental group Friends of the Earth, which commissioned the research, is urging the EU to substantially strengthen its ETS proposals, and calling for additional measures to curb the growth in flights. The environmental campaign group also wants the UK Government to include international aviation emissions in its proposals for a new climate change law.

The authors of the report – experts from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester – and Friends of the Earth campaigners, have briefed MEPs on the findings at a special meeting in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The European Parliament and Council are due to discuss and vote on amendments to the EU proposal to bring aviation into the ETS over the coming weeks. A range of amendments that could either strengthen or weaken the ETS proposal have been tabled by MEPs.

The Tyndall Centre’s new report, Aviation in a Low-Carbon EU investigates to what extent EU proposals to include aviation in its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) would help deliver a low-carbon EU future. The EU plans to include aviation in the EU ETS from 2011 for intra-EU flights, with ALL flights departing from or arriving in the EU included from 2012.

The EU ETS was launched in 2005 and covers around 45 per cent of EU carbon dioxide emissions. Under the scheme, power stations, refineries and heavy industry across Europe are given a limit to how much carbon dioxide they can emit. Participants in the scheme must hold sufficient carbon dioxide permits to match their levels of pollution. Companies that exceed their permits must buy extra allowances from those companies who have managed to reduce their emissions – or pay stiff fines. The EU Emissions Trading Scheme is currently under review.

Dr. Kevin Anderson, Director of the Tyndall Centre’s Energy Programme said:- “We delude ourselves if we believe the proposed framing of the EU ETS is in keeping with the EU’s own and repeated commitment to limit climate change to a two degrees Celsius rise. The current aviation ETS proposal must be significantly strengthened so as to both drive down emission growth rates and force the adoption of more efficient aircraft technologies and operation.”

Friend of the Earth’s aviation campaigner, Richard Dyer said: “Current proposals to include aviation within the EU Emissions Trading Scheme are a totally inadequate response to the threat that the growth in aviation emissions poses to efforts to tackle climate change. MEPs and EU Council Ministers must show vision and leadership and substantially strengthen the aviation ETS during the legislative process this autumn.”

He added, “Other political measures are also needed to tackle the growing climate impact of flying. This should include VAT on air tickets, a tax on aviation fuel and opposition to new runways . The UK Government must also strengthen its plans for a new climate change law to include Britain’s share of international aviation emissions.”

Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies, a member of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee, said: “The Tyndall Centre’s research found that, in order for aviation to play its part in keeping EU carbon dioxide below dangerous levels – the EU must considerably strengthen the aviation ETS proposal.

“Current and envisaged carbon dioxide permit prices of less than 50 per tonne will have little impact on the demand for flights – and hence will barely affect the rapid growth in aviation emissions. Even a much higher carbon price of 300 per tonne would only result in a moderate increase in ticket prices, and therefore only a moderate reduction in demand and emissions growth. The aviation ETS proposal will not provide sufficient incentives for the aviation industry to make the necessary efficiency improvements in order for the sector to be part of a low carbon EU future.”

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