AITO: The Association of Independent Tour Operators


AITO Project Protect

AITO and its 100+ members are committed to encouraging a sustainable approach to travel and this has always been part of the Association’s DNA. Project PROTECT is AITO’s current instrument for improving and supporting sustainable tourism practices amongst its members.


Together with Xavier Font from the University of Surrey, other leading academics, industry gurus and members, AITO devised a programme to encourage and measure its operators’ dedication to a tourism that protects and looks after the destinations they work in. Project PROTECT is AITO’s pledge to protecting tourism destinations around the world. The PROTECT stands for People, Resources, Outreach, Tourism, Environment, Conservation and Tomorrow.

How does it work?

AITO PROTECT began in 2017. The Association invited all of its members to participate in making an annual pledge to sustainable tourism. The pledge is a customised project which benefits their tourism destinations.

The University of Surrey set up an online training platform consisting of videos, guidance and quizzes for all of the AITO members who have registered. It takes trainees through seven steps including picking a sustainable tourism project to implement in one or more destinations, writing a pledge about what they hope to achieve, implementing and communicating about the project and finally writing a testimonial telling readers about the impact their project has had.

At the end of each project year, AITO recognise the pledges created and impact made with a special awards ceremony. The ceremony will look not at the best pledge or the one that has made the most impact but will showcase a number of examples and allow members who have participated to share their stories with others.

For more information on PROTECT, please contact