All corporations seek business sustainability, and Dusit Thani international is hopeful that following the EarthCheck programme will allow it to achieve that goal. Under the programme – which requires the firm to take six steps to ensure that it does not harm the environment, and that it becomes a truly green hotel and helps to create green tourism in Thailand – it also aims to return benefits to society.
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"To achieve this, we need cooperation from the local people in the areas in which we operate. We also need cooperation from business partners and tourists themselves. Dusit has properties in many top destinations in Thailand and overseas. Businesses do not need to just make money, but also to look for ways to contribute to communities and other stakeholders," said Juergen Seidel, Dusit Thani’s director of engineering.
Seidel was appointed to take responsibility for the company’s ongoing environmental efforts, which require it to identify risks, record and monitor impacts, and implement environmental and social sustainability measures.
The hotel and resort group is plotting a roadmap to put in place sustainable tourism. The roadmap includes benchmarks for reducing greenhouse gases. It plans to reduce energy by around 20-30 per cent, carbon emissions by around 20 per cent, water usage by around 30 per cent, and waste to landfill by around 30 per cent. Impacts on local communities will also be minimised.
The EarthCheck programme was adopted four years ago to help the group, which now operates 10 Dusit properties in Thailand and two overseas. After four years, the group has achieved the Silver certificate, and more is to be done as the group aims for the Platinum certificate. To Seidel, teamwork is the major contributor to this success.
"The Dusit properties may not have achieved Silver Certification if [the teams at the different properties] didn’t participate," he said. "I must say the most to be proud of is that we have teams in every property that participated with this programme. So, it’s not a one-man show. I believe in our team and I communicate with them on a routine basis," he added.
EarthCheck is the world’s leading programme used by the travel and tourism industry. It offers a managed sustainability programme supported by the science accumulated over 13 years by the Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre (STCRC). The STCRC is a non-profit research centre specialising in sustainable tourism. Companies attempting to follow EarthCheck must be able to conserve nature, reduce their impact on the environment – carbon emissions and waste to landfill – as well as retain local culture in their cooporative locations.
Andre Russ, vice president of sales for EC3 Global, which oversees the programme, noted that EarthCheck draws support from universities and the industry.
"We’re able to drive a certification programme in the industry. [A] certification programme for the tourism industry is not an investment, but it is a way of giving back to communities where the industry is located," he said.
Dusit Thani hopes other hotels understand the concept of sustainable tourism through social responsibility.
"It took so long to train our officers. And we wish to distribute our green concept to our guests who are using the conference and other facilities at our properties," said Chanin Donavanik, chief executive officer of Dusit International.
He admitted that more time and resources are necessary to accomplish the long-term mission, as the group aims to achieve Gold certificates for all properties by 2017 and Platinum certificates by 2021.