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SpotLight: Environmentally sympathetic.
By Sarah Muxlow ~ weekly column exclusive at 4Hoteliers.com
Wednesday, 19th July 2006
 
As the line of sand around the world gets thinner and recreational development grows in demand each year, hoteliers are bidding to create the new exclusive haven for guests.

In order to shut the door on the world and escape, remote Islands, jungles, national parks and reserves are having resorts constructed on their door steps. However, the planners and investors can't escape from confronting evidence that the impact resort organizations have on the surrounding ecology and environment can be destructive.

More hotel planners are required to be environmentally sympathetic. As we push back the final frontiers worldwide in search of a remote location to erect a 5 star billion dollar resort, it is time to stop and think. There is a real need for resorts to operate in a way that allows for long term ecological sustainability. Resorts are frequently directly reliant on the local nature and beauty to keep attracting guests.

Many a resort of course needs to be near the classic white sands and turquoise water. Adventure therapy is on the rise, that is to say, customers crave the healing of activities in the great outdoors. Whether it be water sports, tranquil or dynamic or Mountain heights to glide or jump from, beautiful scenery is drawing the masses. To allow for recreational pursuits the surrounding nature can't be out of bounds.

Mass visitors want to explore and experience not just look and see. Their presence, journey of arrival and use of facilities alone however has an impact on the beauty and environment. Exclusivity and price limit the numbers but building new roads, installing pipelines and electricity, as well as basic building construction all involves clearing forest, digging up land and changing the growth pattern of plant life that have held together the local wildlife community for, at times, hundreds of years.

To limit construction damage, the idyllically remote hotel planners are needing to carry out pre-purchase land surveys. The surveys assess the impact of a potential resort on flora and fauna. Vegetation management plans, habitat impact assessments, environmentally sympathetic layout designs, capability surveys and constraints analysis are also on the ‘to do list'. The right spot has to be chosen with the guests delight and the long term ecology outlook very much in mind.

It has become more and more essential to create global awareness of Eco-tourism. Whilst governments can and do insist on strict regulations in many countries, the need for self monitoring and voluntary awareness and self constraints in others. Concrete evidence of eroding, depleting reef life and polluting chemical destruction caused by tourists, hotels and resorts is more collectable and very publishable. Some environments and ecology are more fragile than others. In some areas active re-forestation still takes years to really have an impact on a damaged area and give signs of true recovery.

In addition to being ‘green' is the need to look at whether a new resort will have a positive impact on the local host community. A positive impact that is to say, whether it will improve the well being of the local people, indigenous or otherwise. The invasion of the ‘other' is rarely seen as a positive contribution if research and collaboration is limited.

Whether the immediate surroundings are world listed sites or otherwise, the question is still the same for the investment giants: ‘How long will this site last and be peaceful?'

SpotLight is the weekly column exclusively written for 4Hoteliers.com by Sarah Muxlow, it is highlighting the challenges and issues which the global hospitality is facing today.

Sarah is writing for hotel and restaurant owners, hotel chain managers, producers/growers/sellers of food & beverage, restaurant associations, governing bodies and hotel schools. She is looking at the problems they face...competition, trends of branding, staff shortages, unskilled staff, turning out students who are looking for good in-house management training schemes with hotel chains, what makes a good quality training course at a hotel school and more... 

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