Leading the change in sustainable tourism and hospitality

With sustainability and ESG high on the agenda at the Future Hospitality Summit (FHS) in Dubai this September, we asked a number of industry partners how they are leading change when it comes to sustainable tourism and hospitality.

The global tourism industry is facing the perfect storm of ongoing uncertainty, amplified by worrying inflation, recession concerns, geopolitical uncertainty and rising fuel prices. How are destinations and operators facing these new challenges and how can they successfully navigate through these troubled waters?

The tourism and hospitality industry has undoubtedly been among the hardest hit industries for the past 24 months or so. In my 20+ years working with international hotel brands, global attractions and theme parks, as well as launching various F&B and hospitality concepts, the last two years have given us the opportunity to be bold. This new (and constantly changing) reality allows us to completely rethink and revolutionize the way we do things. My rule of thumb is that it is essential to be agile, quick and decisive, and never lose sight of what it takes to ensure long-term resilience.

In a world in constant change, the pandemic highlighted the need more than ever to commit to sustainable and responsible tourism growth. Even before the pandemic, consumers were more aware of sustainability and of traveling responsibly and purposefully, and this trend is only accelerating. In a recent Booking.com report, a whopping 81% of global travelers confirmed that sustainable travel is important to them (an increase of 10% from 2021 data), with 50% saying that recent news about climate change has influenced them to be more sustainable. travel options. Sustainability must now be a priority for long-term investment and hotel development in any destination to take advantage of this evolving landscape.

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Often when people talk about sustainability, it’s usually just a buzzword that means recycling or reducing single-use plastic. The need for good stewardship of our cultural heritage, environment, people and infrastructure has never been stronger, especially as customers seek to engage and connect with brands that reflect their evolving values.

The expectation that companies back words with impactful actions is increasingly important. As the licensing authority for all new hotel developments, the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority can establish guidelines and protocols to regulate sustainability standards and work closely with hotels to ensure sustainable practices. To provide independent and transparent credentials, we work with global environmental experts EarthCheck to co-create green practices and, together with our hotel partners, collectively reduce food waste, energy and water consumption, and green procurement from local suppliers . In addition, we have launched “Valuation of ecological hotels” with the aim of achieving 100% integrated sustainability in all our hotels.

However, sustainability is much more than environmental management, waste management and water consumption: it is also about economic progress and social development. True sustainability must encompass all aspects, including the environment, culture, conservation and habitability. This is something that emerging destinations like Slovenia have done with great success and is the reason behind Ras Al Khaimah’s bold new approach to responsible stewardship and development: balanced tourism.

Under our comprehensive Balanced Tourism banner, the Authority is shaping tourism in the UAE by placing all aspects of sustainability – environment, culture, conservation and livability – at the heart of its investment and development strategy. As part of this commitment, we have adopted a measured approach with a controlled flow of sustainable development to ensure that the problems associated with “overtourism” such as overdevelopment, the agglomeration of heritage sites and the deterioration of its unique natural environment are avoided. , and creating a destination that will resonate with today’s responsible traveler.

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By working to establish the destination as a leader in sustainable tourism, we improve the lives of our citizens and workers, protect and enhance our unique natural environments and traditional communities, as well as address the needs of visitors and industry.

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