At PHIST, hospitality sector sees sustainability as key to future growth

The travel industry needs to adopt sustainability measures that meet the growing demands of eco-conscious travellers to drive business into the future.

At the second edition of PHIST (Phuket Hotels for Islands Sustaining Tourism) conference, which took place this week, industry leaders said that introducing sustainable measures to operations is no longer an option if businesses want to thrive in the future.

Industry leaders at the recent PHIST conference said that sustainability is key to future growth

Jeannie Kwok, Hilton’s director of corporate responsibility, said: “The next generation are passionate about sustainability and simply don’t want to stay somewhere full of plastic. They have the future spending power and they are making demands.”

The tourism industry’s sustainability is a key component that drives decision-making for the next generation, and businesses who fail to embrace it will lose out.

STR Global’s Jesper Palmqvist: Sustainability no longer an option in light of growing number of eco-tourists

Jesper Palmqvist, STR Global’s area director for Asia-Pacific, said: “We can see travellers and consumers are looking at sustainability more as a factor when making decisions about which destination or resort to stay at. It is no longer a choice.”

The costs involved and lowering profit margins are often seen as barriers deterring businesses from investing in environmentally-friendly alternatives and sustainable initiatives.

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok’s hotel manager Frank Droin said: “It can be off-putting investing in changing plastic to something more expensive, but it’s not just about generating revenue, it’s about saving costs.”

Six Senses’ sustainability and quality assurance manager Pimjai Doungnate said that the hotel management company saves “significant costs” every year from its water and waste management programmes, composting and energy conservation measures.

“If you get it right, you can save a lot of money on operational costs,” she said, adding that innovative initiatives can also double up as marketing tools to capture business from eco-savvy consumers.

Drion said that hotel owners who fail to invest in sustainable initiatives tend to lose out in the long run.

“To those owners who don’t want to make this investment, it’s only a matter of time before people don’t want to come to your hotel because you’re still using plastic bottles of shampoo or plastic water bottles in your limousines,” he said.

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