Post Pandemic Saw Increase Demand in Eco-Tourism
Environmental issues in the hospitality industry mainly revolves around water conservation, energy efficiency, climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, waste management, recycling, biodiversity
By Hazel Jasni, Citrine
The unexpected pandemic saw the world locked down for almost two years with many countries closing their borders. What unearthed after that was a greener world, with reports of bluer skies, clearer water and a less polluted earth.
As a result of that, consumers are now demanding travel that is more sustainable. Booking.com’s Sustainability 2021 survey, reported 83% of travellers feel that sustainability is vital, with 50% claiming that there aren’t enough sustainable travel options available. Another survey conducted by Expedia reported that 59% of their customers are willing to spend more in return for more sustainable holiday and business trips. A search on Google shows that the term ‘green hotel’ has quadrupled in search volumes since March 2020.
Unfortunately, despite all this, less than 6,000 out of 800,000 hotels worldwide are eco-hotels or embody Green Hotel practices.
Defining Sustainable Tourism - The UN Environment Program and UN World Tourism Organisation, defines sustainable tourism as:
“Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.”
Several literatures on sustainable tourism indicate that the hospitality industry can contribute vastly to the outlined UN SDGs.
Post-Pandemic Traveler Preferences
In order to gauge traveller’s post-pandemic fears and preferences, Booking.com 2021 Sustainable Travel Report, further reported that two thirds (61%) of travellers said that the pandemic had influenced them to travel sustainably. Almost half (49%) of that number experienced positive everyday life changes, comprising of recycling (49%) and reducing food waste (42%) as their home top priorities habits.
To aid travellers looking for sustainable accommodation Booking.com currently displays over 30 certifications officially approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), Green Tourism and the EU Ecolabel, as well as multiple hotel chain sustainability programs.
Meeting SDG Standards
Environmental issues in the hospitality industry mainly revolves around water conservation, energy efficiency, climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, waste management, recycling, biodiversity, the protection of natural resources, the reduction of environmental impacts, environmentally responsible sourcing and the creation of green construction standards for new hotel construction.
With all these in mind, Plenitude Berhad’s vision is to ensure that their real estate business activities are sustainable from environmental, business and people's perspective. In order to realise this vision, the company plans to establish a strong presence in real estate business activities by growing responsibly, balancing returns with sustainability, creating and delivering long-term value to all stakeholders, as well as care for people, communities and environment.
Energy Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
This is an area recognized as one of the most significant environmental managements in the hotel industry. Understanding this fact Plenitude centres their core hospitality activities by adopting energy efficient technologies such as high-yield boilers, Light-emitting Diode (“LED”) lightings which emit similar amounts of lumens with less energy consumed in all compound areas, common areas and incorporated timer control for electricity in public areas.
Their offices and hotel lighting including the carparks and fire escape areas are equipped with LED lighting to reduce CO2 emission and energy consumption. All hotel rooms under the Plenitude Group optimise the use of natural daylight, which further reduces energy dependency. The mindset to conserve energy by switching off lights when not in need, are inculcated to reduce energy consumption.
Water Conservation Initiatives
Another important green management strategy in the hotel sector is to manage their water conservation measures, by installing water-efficient devices and appliances. Plenitude Group hotels and hospitality operations facilitate water conservation, by incorporating dual flush water cisterns to enable light flushing or heavy flushing, aerated shower heads and taps which helps reduce water consumption.
Waste Management Measures
A proper waste management system needs to be thought through to not only reduce the landfills, but also manage the hazardous impact on wildlife and the environment. Plenitude Group's Waste Management Plan was put in place for construction and hotel refurbishment or renovations stages. The Waste Management and Recycling Plan, requires the contractor to establish their waste management and recycling targets or goals, minimise construction waste, debris, to reuse, salvage, and recycle where feasible. The Waste Management Plan also includes administrative and procedural requirements for overall waste management and recycling activities.
By introducing 3M drinking water filtration systems in almost all of their hotel rooms and water dispenser machines with 3M filter at every floor, Plenitude Hotels has taken an initiative to reduce the use of plastic or glass drinking water bottles. This new system enables guests to manage their own drinking water using recyclable bottles. Concurrent use of single-use plastics, such as plastic stirrers and straws, have been phased out in all their hotels and replaced with biodegradable materials since January 2020.
As a food wastage mitigation measure, their hotels have implemented more live stations in the buffet section where dishes are cooked based on the guests’ requests. The hotels also took out any endangered marine species, such as bluefin tuna, swordfish, shark and ray, from the menus.
Minimising Environment Footprint
Plenitude Group aims to minimise environmental footprints by making efforts to incorporate environmental-friendly elements into all its property development projects and hotel buildings, improve operational eco-efficiency through efficient use of resources and minimising wastage in the course of doing business.
Ensuring the preservation of natural ecosystems and biodiversity will create stakeholders’ value, minimise health risks from air or water pollution. They also have a commitment to uphold sound environmental management practices and compliance with regulatory requirements, such as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for Plenitude projects.
One of their campaigns in environment preservation is by aiding in the conservation of turtles by planting the Merambong trees along the beachfront of Mercure Penang Beach hotel. The Merambong trees, which provides suitable temperature for turtles to lay eggs, was aimed at attracting rare turtle species to land and lay eggs in that area.
Hotels near beach areas such as the Tanjung Point Residences, fare well to organise and conduct beach clean-ups more than once a year. The beach clean-ups not only bring the local community together but also assure that the sea-life, beach animals and even tourists can enjoy a safer beach, void of glasses, metals or plastic, which in the long run will also be beneficial for the surrounding businesses.
Another community-based biodiversity project is the organising of Solidarity Week. An example of this is where Mercure Penang Beach Hotel, upcycled their used linen into tote bags. Partnering community-based organisations and NGOs, the tote bags were then tie-dyed by hotel guests as a part of the hotel activities.
There are many ways the hospitality industry can contribute to the sustainability agenda, where the only barriers affecting green practices are the lack of awareness, expertise and the concern of higher initial costs.
Green hotel practices should be more widely considered as a benchmark for environmentally friendly initiatives, aimed at promoting and nurturing a sustainable environment for our future generations. These green hotel practices mainly revolve around the efforts of saving energy (e.g., by installing energy-efficient appliances and implementing renewable energy programs), reducing water consumption (e.g., by installing water-efficient devices and equipment and implementing a linen and towel reuse program) and waste management and reduction (e.g., by implementing recycling programs and using durable items rather than disposable ones).
Sustainability at Plenitude goes beyond environmental preservation. The company prioritises workplace diversity and inclusion, as well as the celebration, preservation, and continuity of talent. Any form of direct or indirect discrimination against employees is strictly prohibited under the company's zero-tolerance policy. Additionally, Plenitude encourages local employment that promotes Malaysian talent and provides development opportunities for a rewarding career at a global standard.
One of the ways the company ensures a continued pool of talent is through the Plenitude Scholarship. MoUs with TAR UC, DISTED College Penang and Management & Science University (MSU) and other local universities/colleges, were officially sealed as recipient partners of the Plenitude Scholarship. The scholarship aims to nurture young talents that will be able to meet the expectations of the ever-changing customer needs and market demands.
By accelerating their digital transformation, Plenitude plans to achieve their sustainability agenda goals, such as operating paperless operations, implementing self-check-in kiosks at all their hotels, and enabling cashless transactions by 2025. These plans, combined with their already robust sustainability agenda, will have a positive impact not only on their businesses and employees but also the world we live in.Click here to Read on MOH Should Stop The 'Back Door Ban' on Vape