How Dur Hospitality is leading the change in sustainable tourism and hospitality
With sustainability and ESG high up on the agenda at the Future Hospitality Summit (FHS) in Dubai this September, our media partners Hospitality Net asked a number of industry partners how they are leading the change when it comes to sustainable tourism and hospitality.
The detrimental environmental degradation due to industrialization has acted as the main driving force to discard traditional hospitality approaches and drive the hospitality sector to engage in sustainable transformation, mainly after the COVID-19 pandemic, in an attempt to save the planet, redesign business models and attract investment at the same time. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the wider MENA region, the mindful use of resources has become the key focus and secret for building a resilient hospitality industry where new ecosystems are created to develop business while protecting the environment and conserving the natural landscapes to meet the needs of the present as well as future generations. In addition to environmental conservation, sustainable development in the industry has also promoted social inclusivity, diversity and healthy economic growth. It has created better employment opportunities backed with vocational training that highlights resource efficiency and environmental protection while also catering to the accelerated growth in the Kingdom’s domestic travel industry.
Despite the fact that hotels contribute 2% of the 5% of the global carbon dioxide emissions by the tourism sector, the pandemic has shifted the mindset of hotel industry leaders toward operations that reward their business and the community around them. As demand for modern travel experiences increases, hoteliers are more inclined to adopt holistic people-centered approaches that invest in creating an ideal balance that values the natural resources and leverages the human capital to sustain growth while raising the level of consciousness on environmental practices. This includes simple green organic food and whole foods, earth-friendly products, as well as renewable energy systems that play a pivotal role in preserving and conserving the hospitality sector. On top of that, lowering carbon footprint, recycling, reducing waste, and conserving energy and water all enhance economic progress and social development, grounded within a sustainable mindset that involves consumers in sustainable management practices and builds a cultural understanding of the hospitality sector on a broad scale.
Accordingly, the MENA region in general and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in particular, are now investing in clean energy in a number of renewable energy schemes, solar and wind power and energy-efficient material such as LED lights that can be effectively used to build a sustainable environment and increase the ‘greenness’ of operations to offset the high fossil fuel consumption. Water conservation measures also start from low-flow toilets and shower heads as well as infra-red activated faucets and extend to reusing grey water (water from washing vegetables and fruits) for grass and plant irrigation to reduce water consumption. In fact, hotel operators have adopted various practices to reduce waste by using organic amenities especially organic products that leave a lighter carbon footprint. This includes products made of natural ingredients such as hotel toiletries, cleaning supplies, fragrances as well as food that come in recyclable packaging or biodegradable cartons to ensure preserving and conserving natural resources.
Keen to make a difference on the global tourism scale, Saudi Arabia has launched one of the world’s biggest investments in human capital to empower young Saudi men and women with great key skills in the Kingdom’s hospitality, tourism and travel industry and develop trainees at all career levels with programs supported by the highest rated tourism training schools. This creates an ambitious and skilled workforce that will pave the way for the future of Saudi leadership in the tourism sector. It also involves the creation new jobs in tourism including seasonal, part-time, or full-time opportunities, in an attempt to nurture, develop and support talent in the industry. The Kingdom’s hospitality sector is absolutely committed to inspire Saudi youth with highly specialized programs and equip them with the required qualifications, aiming to develop a world-class, sustainable industry, localize talents, and give back to the community.
The year 2022 has so far witnessed excellent travel industry recovery rates for key MENA markets, with more recovery anticipated in the remainder of the year. Higher rates are expected in the Saudi capital during Q4, 2022 with the upcoming Riyadh Season, World Cup, Future Investment Imitative and other leading events in the country. Alongside the recaptured growth in operations, new customer demand trends have emerged, driven by accelerated innovation in all fields and the desire for more scaled business and leisure travel experiences on one hand, and a fresh outlook with a heightened awareness of the impact of human activities on the planet on the other. A recent study has found that 81% of global travellers have opted for more environmentally friendly hotels, food, and transportation. Also, as the governments’ strategies are growing to be more focused on environmental conservation, incorporating responsible marketing and corporate social responsibility approaches along with restricted environmental measures play a key role in driving more hotel developers to invest in hospitality resorts and restaurants of innovative concepts while staying in tune with clients’ expectations in terms of conserving the planet.
Seeking to transform the Kingdom into a major competitor among established tourist hubs, The Kingdom's ambitious plan focuses on reducing the Kingdom’s reliance on oil by increasing tourism to account for 10% of the Kingdom's GDP by 2030. It also sets out a framework for increased sustainability initiatives throughout the Kingdom, from enormous tree-planting campaigns to large-scale "giga-project" developments.
The hospitality and tourism industry in the Kingdom with its unique world-class experience, calls for a balance between sustainable planning and management with the bottom-line results to achieve exceptional livability, enhance long-term survivability and mitigate climate fallout, therefore working in harmony with the environment to invoke a mindful socioeconomic impact by preserving resources, conserving biodiversity, and respecting human-based approaches.