Dubai Hotel Show: Sustainability now a necessity in hotels, say experts
Dubai - "For any hotel to adopt a successful sustainability programme, the first step would be to provide training for its staff."
Sustainability in the hotel industry today is not just an option anymore, it is a necessity, experts at the 2015 Dubai Hotel Show stressed on Wednesday.
Speakers at the third day of The Hotel Show Dubai's annual Vision Conference highlighted the importance of raising awareness about the need for sustainable programmes in the hospitality sector, as well as the monetary and environmental benefits that come from the successful adoption of sustainable practices.
Iftikhar Hamdani, cluster general manager of Ramada Hotel & Suites Ajman, noted that change is possible as long as one is passionate about sustainability.
"The most important thing to remember when it comes to sustainable practices is to keep things simple," he said in the panel discussion titled 'A hotel viewpoint - sustainability for a better tomorrow'.
Hamdani explained that it is important to engage people individually. For any hotel to adopt a successful sustainability programme, the first step would be to provide training for its staff, he said. This will create a successful and open environment in which the best sustainability practices can be utilised.
He went on to highlight some of the sustainable concepts that are practiced at the hotel such as proper waste management. "Only 10 per cent of our generated waste goes to the local landfill. We are also looking at practices that will allow us to further reduce an additional two per cent of our waste.
"We did this by investing in a composter machine that sisgnificantly cut back on the waste that ultimately ended up in the landfill," he said.
Hamdani also said that raising awareness about sustainability can be done outside hotel premises by engaging with teachers and students in local schools. "Celebrating events such as Earth Day and Earth Hour costs nothing at all and is a wonderful way of raising awareness," he said.
Rohit Salunke, director of engineering at Sofitel The Palm, explained that there are many practices that can be utilised when it comes to sustainability. He said that Sofitel The Palm is one of the most sustainable and green hotels in Dubai because of its excellent water management and energy saving practices.
"Water that is condensed from the air conditioning is recycled to be used for irrigation," he offered as an example. "In addition, in the post opening of the hotel, we replaced all the public area lighting with LEDs. In the last two years, with all these energy saving practices, we have achieved savings of almost Dh1 million."
Shadi Bakhour, general manager of Canon Emirates, wrapped up the discussion by saying that the best practices in sustainability start with knowledge. "Start by organising staff training sessions that will familiarise your workers with the best practices in sustainability, and after that move on to raising public awareness," he said.
However, he also explained that it is important to make the programme affordable. If a sustainability programme is not affordable, then hotels in the region will be hard pressed to adopt them, he warned.