Skift Take

Beyond the glare of overdevelopment, Asia’s resorts want to be a pioneer of the sustainability movement. Here’s how they say they will do that.

Asian resort chains claiming sustainability is their core value must be feeling chuffed these days as the travel industry worldwide faces greater scrutiny.

Brands that prospered and grew in Asia, such as Six Senses, Banyan Tree, Como, and Amanresorts, are pushing to be way ahead in eliminating single-use plastics, reducing waste, giving back to communities, promoting ecotourism, and all the other areas of do-good tourism.

This fact is often forgotten in the glare of massive hotel development in the region and its associated problems such as congestion, pollution, and tourist safety.

Six Senses, as our report below shows, is getting rid of plastics completely and is likely the only chain globally that requires owners to set aside a percentage of revenue toward a sustainability fund.

Phuket is leading a new movement for Asia’s tourism islands to be more sustainable. No wonder. Phuket is the most densely populated destination in the world, with 5,090 tourists per square mile, according to a just-released study by Columbus Direct, a travel insurance company. By comparison, the second most densely populated city due to tourism, Palma de Mallorca, has 2,918 visitors per square mile each day.

With more than nine million visitors each year, Phuket sees a total of 25,452 tourists filling its streets and beaches each day. While Bangkok has the highest number of tourists in the world at more than 20 million, the Thai capital receives just 91 tourists per square mile due to its size.

The Phuket Hotels Association, formed just two years ago, has birthed what is now Asia’s largest annual travel and tourism sustainability gathering, with the second event held last week drawing some 1,000 delegates. This included not just hotel general managers but rank-and-file staff and students, in a bid to draw in youths in green discussions.

Unlike somber sustainability forums, the recent Phuket Hotels for Islands Sustaining Tourism, co-organized by C9 Hotelworks and Greenview, had a happy island vibe to it, making a serious topic accessible and winning newbies over to the cause.

The association has also released a Green Hotel Guide featuring best practices from 56 of its 74 members that can help hotels take their first green steps.

Resort destinations are a critical component of Asia’s tourism. It’s a good thing hotels in Phuket, and other islands such as Bali and Boracay who were present at the gathering, have an anchor event to learn from each other.

Also in this issue, read our continued coverage of the unsustainable business of Thomas Cook Group and Indonesian authorities’ unsustainable idea for Komodo Island.

— Raini Hamdi, Skift Asia Editor, [email protected], @RainiHamdi

Skift Stories and More Expert Insights

Six Senses Bhutan. Photo: Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas

IHG’s Six Senses Goes a Step Further on Being Green Among Hotel Chains: While other chains may have difficulty getting owners to spend on sustainability, Six Senses has them commit by management contract. And while other chains are just getting rid of single-use plastic straws and bottles, Six Senses wants to be completely free of plastics by 2022. Will parent IHG follow suit?

The Greening of Travel: Read the New Magazine: Check out our magazine to learn how travel must embrace its responsibility to the world. We offer eight tenets to help you make it happen.

Indonesia’s Komodo Island Will Stay Open But New Fee Could Be as High $1,000: So the good news is Komodo Island won’t be closed. The bad news is a “membership” fee, which may be as high as $1,000, will be introduced. Indonesian authorities never cease to goof up on one of its most important tourism attractions.

Debt, Egos and Bad Decisions: How Thomas Cook Failed to Adapt to a New Era of Travel: Thomas Cook’s collapse was a disaster played out in slow motion. An ill-fated acquisition spree, a bloated retail footprint, and a commoditized product left it unable to deal with changes in consumer behavior and economic shocks.

Is Tour Operator Cox & Kings the Next to Fall? Debt-addled Cox & Kings appears to be teetering on the brink of collapse. It has closed its Australia/New Zealand operations. Virtuoso has severed ties with it — and a rescue does not look imminent.

EbixCash Takes Over Cox & Kings’ Business Travel Clients in India: Some travel companies — Ebix among others — are rumored to be considering taking over all of the cash-strapped Cox & Kings.

Saudi Arabia’s High Tourism Hopes Begin With a Botched Campaign Rollout: Saudi Arabia certainly put a lot of thought and money into its latest promotional pitch ahead of a rumored e-visa scheme. But it takes more than drone shots to kick off a successful tourism marketing strategy — clarity in message matters too.

Asia Editor Raini Hamdi [[email protected]] curates the Skift Asia Weekly newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Wednesday.

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Tags: bali, climate change, cox and kings, ihg, phuket, saudi arabia, six senses, skift asia weekly, sustainability, thomas cook group

Photo credit: Six Senses Yao Noi, Phang-nga, Thailand. Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas

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