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April 27, 2018

GREEN HOTELS: WHEN CAN WE HAVE MORE OF THESE?

I was fortunate to have stayed in three different hotels in Stockholm in just a period of over a week and I cannot wait to experience something like this in my own country. All three hotels were green, to my pleasant surprise.

First, the bathroom amenities. There were no sachets or small bottles. Instead, they provide signature “ecologique” brands or house brands in bigger containers that are of course anchored to the sink area or bath area to secure them. (I saw a hotel with these in Davao and in Cebu)

Second, the breakfast buffet boasts of only the best: organic butter, organic coffee, and organic milk. The breads are also organic and they have a choice of gluten-free baked goods, too. There were many choices but all carefully-sourced with sustainability in mind. (This I still have to see in Manila).

Third, one of the hotels even has a beehive on its rooftop garden. These bees go around a one kilometer radius to feed on pollen and come back to their hives to make honey.

The hotel serves this honey for breakfast. How cool and green is that?

Another thoughtful practice of one hotel is to donate to “homeless children” in exchange for guests’ choosing “no thanks don’t clean my room today” which means no change of linen and towels. It’s a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that is aligned with their industry. Since they make money or profits on people who sleep at their hotels, the company (Clarion Hotel) gives donations to provide safe sleeping quarters for homeless kids. Now that’s an aligned CSR and not just a common or ordinary donation of profits made.

These hotels contribute to what we now call Sustainable Tourism or Green Travel. Some may call it Slow Travel, too, with reference to the global movement called Slow Food which promotes good, clean, and fair food.

For tourists to observe eco-friendly practices in our hotels, guests must also enjoy good, clean, and fair accommodations along with good, clean, and fair food. It’s ethical and it’s the right thing to do if we are to ensure sustainability of our tourist industry.

Next month we will be playing host to Slow Travel as we engage Slow Food Italy’s representatives Elena Aniere and Federico Mattei who will be going to Benguet and Ifugao to check out our Slow Food ingredients like Benguet coffee and Ifugao rice— both heirloom produce which tourists and consumers can help protect while travelling in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). This project called The Mountain Experience will be sponsored by the Department of Tourism’s Undersecretary Alma Rita Jimenez and Regional Director Venus Tan along with Slow Food chapters in Manila and Baguio.

Heirloom Organic Rice

These kinds of tours will promote Slow Travel, Green Travel, and Sustainable Tourism. In June, the Wildlife Friendly group will be holding a Stakeholder forum in Coron, Palawan also to discuss Sustainable Tourism. And to really sustain our tourism industry, we all have to start thinking green travel sooner than later.

When I checked out, I made sure to confirm: “Is this a green hotel?”.

The lady said “yes” with a big smile.

When can our hotels endeavor to be greener and not just think of cheapest and easiest? It’s the way the world is going, and it will do us well to start sooner and reap the benefits of green tourism―socially, environmentally, and financially.

 

 

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