Time for hotels to promote sustainable tourism efforts

Many resorts now have their own ‘backyard’ garden that can supply some of the ingredients used at in-house restaurants. — Six Senses

Sustainability is one of the major factors that many tourism industry stakeholders take into account when coming up with recovery plans.

Sustainable tourism is also a main focus of development for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, which lists 10 areas of interests that are currently in progress.

It is no surprise then that many international hotel chains, as well as independent hotel businesses, are constantly adding or improving their sustainable practices.

Six Senses Hotel Resorts Spas (part of the IHG Hotels & Resorts family), for example, has recently signed on to collaborate with the United States Coalition on Sustainability, and SustainChain, a technology solution that drives unprecedented action and progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The collaboration is part of the hotel’s ambitious “Plastic Free 2022” strategy to remove and avoid all virgin plastic materials from its global outlets. To start, the hotel chain is removing exposure to all plastics – particularly single-use and disposable plastics – for guests and communities in and around its properties.

SustainChain will provide a platform that allows suppliers and other relevant parties to work together.

Six Senses has been working on reducing disposable plastics since the 1990s, when it began using refillable ceramic bathroom amenities.

Better planningNumerous other hotels in Asia are also commendable in their sustainability efforts, especially during the pandemic.

For example, the Anam Cam Ranh in Vietnam is now using eco-friendly key cards, doing away with the normal plastic key cards we get (and usually lose!) in most hotels. These wooden key cards are certified by the international non-profit forest management organisation Forest Stewardship Council, which promotes responsible management of the world’s forests.

The hotel also uses recyclable glass water bottles, rice straws, bamboo bags and more; almost all of these are also sourced locally, which helps in reducing carbon footprint.

Alma Resort Cam Ranh, meanwhile, recently launched a mobile app that allows guests to have contactless communication with staff in real-time. Hotel promotions, notifications, menus, as well as Covid-19 health and safety tips are available from this app, among other things.

Over in Cambodia, Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh has partnered with Naga Earth, a local NGO that collects used cooking oil from hotels and restaurants around the country and recycles it. The oil is turned into clean burning diesel fuel or biodiesel, as well as glycerin by-products like soap. These products are then distributed to underprivileged communities all over Cambodia.

Hyatt Regency only opened its doors for business in the Cambodian capital in January this year, but it has already donated more than 200l of used cooking oil to Naga Earth.

The hotel donates used soap bars to the Eco-Soap Bank too. These soap bars are sanitised and upcycled by a team of local women, and then distributed to vulnerable communities not just around the country but in Laos, Nepal, Lebanon, Rwanda, Kenya, Eswatini, Tanzania, Sierra Leone and South Africa as well.

In Thailand, Melia Koh Samui is doing something “big”. The hotel has provided land for a community farm to help feed rescued elephants. Just 200m from the property is a 250sq m farm with 200 banana trees and other elephant food like sweet grass and napier grass.

The food will go to Samui Elephant Haven, which currently has a herd of 21 rescued elephants.

Another resort worth mentioning is Patina Maldives at Fari Islands, which has yet to open but has already put in place many initiatives that supports sustainable development.

Among them are using solar panels to power several activity centres, incorporating sustainability-themed activities in its guest programmes and using locally-sourced produce (as well as advocating the benefits of a plant-based diet) in its menus.

The resort also offers free PADI-certified diving courses to Maldivian youths, in the hopes of elevating the lives of local families and communities.

Hopefully, all these initiatives will inspire other hotels and companies to develop their own sustainability plans.

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