Independent hotels in GCC need support for NetZero transition: Farnek

Global travel industry moves to adopt sustainable tourism
/ New Delhi
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Independent hotels in GCC need support for NetZero transition: Farnek

Independent hotels like Time Hotels in Dubai would need help to move to NetZero

With mounting pressure from travellers, peer groups as well as investors, the travel industry around the world also begins the transition towards sustainability, with a time-bound commitment to achieve NetZero emissions. However, not all players can get there on their own, says Farnek, a sustainable facilities management provider. It says that smaller players like the independent hotels in the GCC region need assistance in moving towards sustainability by 2050.
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Nadia Ibrahim, Associate Director of Consultancy & Sustainability at leading UAE-based smart and green facilities management (FM) company Farnek, says as hotel industry around the world moves to adopt ‘NetZero by 2050’ pledge, all hotels throughout the Gulf Cooperation Council countries region can create a bespoke roadmap to achieve the target.

But, she adds, that many independent hotels, particularly three and four-star properties would require external support from consultants to design, plan and execute a carbon neutral roadmap.

Ibrahim was speaking at a webinar presentation organised recently in conjunction with the Swiss Business Council. The presentation was attended by key hospitality figures from across the region. On the occasion, Ibrahim highlighted the fact that some international hospitality brands may already have strategies in place to achieve their NetZero ambitions.

Nadia Ibrahim, Associate Director of Consultancy & Sustainability at Farnek

“Major international hotel brands such as Accor, Hilton and Marriott have the necessary resources to achieve their sustainability goals, but many privately-owned independent hotels will not have the means to access dedicated internal support. There is also general confusion about what NetZero means and the process and actions required to make a corporate commitment and how a hotel’s carbon footprint can be measured and reduced without affecting the operation or guest experience,” said Ibrahim.

It is said that generally tourism and specifically hotels account for 8 pc and 1 pc respectively of total global carbon emissions. But implementing a carbon reduction plan is not an easy task, with multiple internal and external challenges, Ibrahim told the participants, adding that the most common challenges include carbon footprint assessments across the hotel and its value chain, a lack of financial resources with little or no budget allocated for climate related activities, the higher costs associated with sustainable products and insufficient regulatory incentives to support a hotel’s NetZero transition.

Ibrahim, who was elected to the board of the official Local Network of the UN Global Compact in the UAE earlier this year, also emphasised to delegates that despite the challenges, sustainability in hospitality is an undeniable trend which also affords operational savings, competitive advantage and strengthens relationships with stakeholders.

“Reducing energy output, water consumption and waste, will save a hotel operation money through lower utility bills and landfill costs. Moreover, 81 pc of travellers that responded to a 2021 survey said that they wanted to stay in sustainable accommodation and a further 49 pc claimed there was not enough choice,” said Ibrahim.

According to a press release, leading by example, Farnek consultants have already identified the scope and boundaries, to accurately measure and reduce its own carbon footprint. Apart from building performance, such as energy and water consumption, Farnek is also taking into account employee travel, logistics, purchased goods and services, waste disposal, as well as focusing on recycling, renewables and other lower carbon alternatives.

“It is impossible to become carbon neutral by reduction methods alone, so hotels will need to offset a certain percentage of their emissions, by supporting certified carbon offset projects, such as providing clean cooking fuel to isolated communities in Africa to help prevent deforestation,” added Ibrahim.

Farnek has also developed an in-house, online solution called Hotel Optimizer which can carry out and benchmark complete energy, water and waste audits for hotel owners and managers. Furthermore, Farnek is the preferred partner in the Middle East for Green Globe Certification, the premier worldwide sustainability management system and certification for the hospitality, travel and tourism industry.

“It is essential that hotels start to plan their environmental strategy now if they are to play their part and support the overall Net Zero goals of their respective governments, particularly those in the UAE, who will host the COP 28 meeting in Abu Dhabi next year,” concluded Ibrahim.

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