Sustainability takes centre stage

TRAVTALK together with Bahi Ajman Palace Hotel and Ajman Department of Tourism Development, conducted a special panel discussion on the theme ‘Shaping the sustainability future in businesses’ to celebrate World Tourism Day. During the discussion, experts highlighted the challenges and suggested ways to take the sustainability move forward.

TT Bureau

Iftikhar Hamdani, Area General Manager, Bahi Ajman Palace Hotel and Coral Beach Resort Sharjah, moderated the event with seven panellists. Among the panellists were Khadija Mohammed Turki, Tourism Marketing & Promotion Expert, Ajman Department of Tourism Development; Roxana Jaffer, CEO, Sovereign Hotels; Sanith de Silva Wijeyaratne, Director, Climate and Conservation Consortium; Shubhojit Mahalonobis, Director and Managing Partner, Danube Home and Hospitality Solutions; John Horgan, Director, Eco Burner; John Whaley, CEO, Integrity Business Solutions, and Amish Choksey, Partner and General Manager, Green Gold Eco Tech Fzco.

The keynote speaker opening the floor was young sustainability advocate Sarim Hamdani, who said that sustainability is the need of the hour. “If we don’t take any action at this point of time, there will be severe consequences for the next generation,” he emphasized.

Iftikhar Hamdani, who has been an advocate for sustainability over the past many years, said that it was key to get all businesses involved in making a change. “It is not just a project, but a passion to make that simple change in life to prepare for the future,” he said.

Khadija Mohammed Turki shared the sustainable tourism practices carried out by the Ajman Department of Tourism Development as a government entity and the collaboration with public and private sector, which is an important aspect in order to promote the sustainability goals. “I think we need to lead by example, and not on a corporate level. It goes down, it boils down to the individual and what we do at our own homes and on our daily aspect. It’s not on a corporate level and the solution we come up with, the challenges we face on an industrial aspect. But what do we do individually when we are in our own homes? We are looking at reducing the lights, switching off the lights, switching off the water, remembering not to waste water when we are gardening and all these things. I personally started myself at home. I segregated my trash. It’s an effort and it takes an effort to do that, but I personally make sure that we have different plans for different types of trash. And I make sure everyone follows the rule and that’s where we leave our impact on the young ones,” she said.

Roxana Jaffer reiterated the necessity to focus on people, planet and profit, which are three important aspects to focus on, especially in the hospitality industry.

Shubhojit Mahalonobis shared their global campaign on aero water, which promotes condensation of water from the atmosphere and how they are looking at supplying water to the African region, which suffers from water scarcity. In terms of their hotels, they reduced the carbon footprint in their 15 properties by 150 tonnes and are looking at further reducing the carbon footprint over the next year. “All this is a possibility with the collaboration of both the public and private sectors,” Mahalonobis said.

Amish Choksey spoke about various programmes that he has been working on to ensure sustainable practices, especially with different hospitality projects across the UAE. Sanith de Silva Wijeyaratne emphasized on the urgency to address the issues at hand with climate change. “The need of the hour is future thinking and to understand your personal carbon impact,” Wijeyaratne said. He shared various ways that can be measured in terms of the carbon footprint and how they need to be managed.

John Horgan reiterated that over the years there has been many challenges, yet they are addressing the issues. “The main fact is change, as it is important that people change now. not in another five years,” Horgan said.

John Whaley and Amish Choksey talked about the forgetting curve, which means when you are small all the good practices are shared with you. However, as you get older you forget those important factors that you once held important.

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