Time for a climate change in travel: Who will be first to jump on the lightwagon?
By Yeoh Siew Hoon ~ thetransitcafe.com
Thursday, 8th March 2007
Following the announcement by Australia that it will place a ban on incandescent lighting - Yeoh Siew Hoon wonders which hotel group will be the first to start the movement.

I always find it amazing how from little ripples come the big wave. Take the climate change issue. 

For years, there's been talk about it – how global warming was happening and why it was happening. I recall sitting through endless tourism conferences and listening as experts spoke over the heads of disinterested delegates. 

Disinterested because I guess we couldn't figure out how to relate it to our individual businesses and as individuals. And also because partly, we felt somebody else would take care of it. It's like accidents, it always happens to someone else until ...

So nobody minded. Until Al Gore came along with his movie, "An Inconvenient Truth" – and now everybody is minding it.  

Suddenly, the media is full of articles on carbon trading, referring to "the trading of compliance instruments surrounding the regulations controlling greenhouse gases", and "carbon credits" or CER (certified emission reductions) which "are applied to activities that preclude or avoid the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere".

In the World Trends Report 2006-2007, prepared for ITB by IPK International, one of the areas cited for industry change is "climate change".

It says, "Climate change in the environment is likely to induce a major 'climate change' in the structure of the travel and tourism industry.  

"In Europe alone, there could be a fundamental shift in holiday destinations in less than 25 years from now, with the possible death of the traditional Mediterranean package and a reversal of the North-South annual migration that accounts for 70% of European outbound travel. And similar changes in travel patterns will undoubtedly occur in other regions."

And it adds,"Tourism ministries and inter-governmental tourism bodies must try to ensure that travel and tourism is part of the process of addressing global warming and climate change and that it has an input into all decision-making."

Now we know how effective these tourism bodies are so in the meantime, hats off to the Australian government for being the first to announce the ban on incandescent lights and the switch to fluorescent lights. 

Political will works wonders when it comes to getting things done but within Asia, I wonder if it's time big business, instead of waiting for governments who are otherwise preoccupied with other matters, take the lead.

Since the Australian announcement, I have been speaking to hoteliers around the region and asking if they too will take such a move.

The good news is, most said that since the announcement, they have held internal meetings to see what could be done, and that they were reviewing the best way forward. 

Claire Chiang, who is responsible for CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) at Banyan Tree, told me they've had a strategic review meeting to see what measures the group can adopt further to become more energy-efficient.

"We are looking at what new technologies are available that can help us do a better job," she said.

At Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, group director of engineering Max Fankhanel, said: "No doubt that we will be doing a better job than we do now as regards "lighting" and energy conservation.

"Whether we can delete incandescent light in the hotel environment alltogether is very hard as current technology is still the limiting factor if we are to retain the "ambience' in the public spaces that are so important at this time.

"You may be interested to know that  we were among the first, if not the first to use compact fluorescents in guest rooms. That certainly applies to our competitive set here in Asia. It goes back some 10 years plus.

"Apart from that, we are launching a major initiative as part of CSR related to energy conservation."

I am no expert on lighting but I feel enlightened customers would not mind sacrificing "ambience" if it meant saving our planet a little.

Whatever the case, I sincerely hope major hotel groups will jump on the lightwagon.

Consider the fact that a 700-room hotel might have as many as 50,000 light bulbs, and many types of light bulbs – up to 200 types – are needed. I am also told that a typical hotel can consume as much electricity as a village with 500 houses.

Consider the impact it would have therefore if a hotel group, the scale of Accor or Marriott or Shangri-La, made a small move towards switching to more energy-efficient lighting throughout its hotels.

The ripple it would create would be considerable indeed. 

The SHY Report
A regular column on news, trends and issues in the hospitality industry by one of Asia's most respected travel editors and commentators, Yeoh Siew Hoon.

Siew Hoon, who has covered the tourism industry in Asia/Pacific for the past 20 years, runs SHY Ventures Pte Ltd. Her company's mission is "Content, Communication, Connection".

She is a writer, speaker, facilitator, trainer and events producer. She is also an author, having published "Around Asia In 1 Hr: Tales of Condoms, Chillies & Curries". Her motto is ‘free to do, and be'.

Contacts: Tel: 65-63424934, Mobile: 65-96801460

Yeoh Siew Hoon's other writings can be found at www.thetransitcafe.com . Get your weekly cuppa of news, gossip, humour and opinion at the cafe for travel insiders.
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