Sustainability in Tourism with Tourism Management Investment Magazine

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Sustainability in Tourism with Tourism Management Investment Magazine

What does sustainable tourism mean to you? Why is it important for tourism to be sustainable?

As an industry that transforms nature, cultural heritage and folk culture into economic benefit, creating over 50 lines of business, tourism must be sustainable to protect the world and the future of the industry. 

To allow future generations to meet their own needs like we do, we know that tourism should be managed with the “sustainability” principle. This includes preserving natural areas, regardless of whether we have interaction with that specific area, protecting cultural integrity and ecological balance, and ensuring that biological diversity and life systems are kept safe for the future.

In simple terms, “sustainable tourism” refers to reorganizing the sectoral components to protect natural, economic and cultural resources and to ensure their continuity. It means protecting and generating an income from these resources without polluting and harming them and investing the income back into the region in the best way. Sustainability is taking care of our needs without jeopardizing the needs of future generations, or to quote from the Cape Town Treaty, it is “creating more beautiful spaces for living and seeing”. 

Sustainability is not only the responsibility of hospitality businesses, but also of the guests that stay there. Therefore, we should answer the question “What is a responsible tourist?” on an individual level and turn our answers into action. 

What are some of the policies that you’ve adopted in terms of sustainability?

For Dedeman Hotels & Resorts International, creating projects with a sustainability focus has always been very important. Our hotels contribute to protecting the world and the future with environmentally-sensitive projects and always embrace the cultural values of the location in which they are established to help develop tourism and Turkey as a whole. 

During the pandemic, we’ve continued our projects without a break. To provide our guests healthy products and to contribute to sustainable animal welfare, we’ve been using 100% cage-free eggs in all our hotels in Turkey since April 1, 2021. We are the first hotel chain to complete and promote the Cage-Free Turkey Project by removing cage eggs from the supply chain of our 15 hotels in Turkey. 

Moreover, our hotels have started to be certified as “Bike-Friendly Accommodation Facilities” by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism in an effort to support this globally popular, but domestically new, type of tourism, and to decrease our guests’ carbon footprint. Dedeman Tokat and Dedeman Eskişehir were the first two hotels to be certified as bike friendly. Dedeman Konya Hotel & Convention Center is currently finishing the process to be certified as well. 

Each of our hotels also launch projects on their own. For example, Park Dedeman Denizli, the first and only hotel in the region to be awarded the Green Star Certification, is recognized for its environmental projects. Dedeman Tokat has its own electric-car station, separates and cogenerates waste products, recycles waste batteries, paper and oil, and safely disposes lightbulbs. 

Over the next few months, we are planning to receive the International REC Standard Certificate for Dedeman Tokat, which certifies that 100% of the energy used is generated through renewable sources. We are planning to expand renewable energy use to all the domestic Dedeman hotels next. 

We have more investments that are currently being designed or constructed, including infrastructure for generating our own electricity, rainwater collectors, systems to use rainwater, and other projects that will save energy while decreasing our carbon and water footprint and minimizing our harm to nature. 

What are the contributions that environmentally friendly hotels make to sustainability?

Environmentally-friendly hotels conduct their activities by adopting the sustainable tourism principles defined by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). These principles primarily consist of economic sustainability and local development, in addition to employment, social participation and gender equality, social welfare, cultural enrichment and efficient use of resources.

This approach creates great value for both our world and for our industry. We closely follow the increasing number of sustainability-focused projects with great excitement. Programs and certificates, such as the Green Star, Blue Flag, Greening Hotels, Green Key, and Zero Waste, motivate hospitality business to monitor their activities. 

What are your sustainability-related expectations from tourism suppliers that create products and provide services for the industry?

As I mentioned, the tourism industry is directly related to more than fifty lines of business through supply chains. In other words, the tourism industry is at the center of many other industries. That’s why suppliers that cannot adapt to sustainable practices will eventually be left out of this circle. Therefore, it is inevitable that they will renew themselves and adapt to the new age, along with the hotels. 

What is your motivation on sustainable tourism?

Ensuring that future generations can also benefit from the same natural beauty we have today is our main motivation. As part of a chain that uses natural resources and creates services for people using these resources, our primary goal is to return to nature what we take from it. As we often mention, if you are aiming for a sustainable business life, you must think about the future generations. As Dedeman Hotels & Resorts International, this approach serves as our main motivation. 

How did being an environmentally-sensitive hotel chain affect the preferability of your hotels? What kind of feedback do you receive from your costumers?

Particularly after the pandemic, in the new world order we refer to as “the new normal”, environmental sensitivity and sustainability gained great popularity. These concepts grow in a chain reaction, and we believe that through time, our current and potential customers’ awareness on these subjects will increase. Soon, concepts such as “eco-tourism”, “nature-friendly hotel” or “responsible tourist” will be commonplace. 

In terms of the projects we have launched, our customers have given us great feedback and appreciation. Sustainability awareness is growing in our guests. Last month, 9 hotels from the Dedeman Hotels & Resorts International were listed among the top 10% of hotels around the world in 2021 in the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards. We always consider our guests’ satisfaction as a reward and strive to provide them with even better services. 

Was there a change in the approach to sustainable tourism with the pandemic? Can the pandemic help create a new perspective towards sustainable tourism?

Yes, the pandemic has caused deep changes in sustainable tourism. Sustainability in tourism was discussed before the pandemic too, but the global pandemic acted as a catalyzer and accelerated sustainable tourism practices, increasing public awareness. Now, guests judge a tourism business in terms of its environmental sensitivity, child-friendliness and approach towards animal rights, and they question the brand’s activities. That’s why we are not only a brand in the guests’ eyes but also a partner in sustainability. 

Would you like to add anything else on this subject?

As Dedeman Hotels & Resorts International, our Sustainability Committee allows us to monitor all our sustainability practices in a centralized way and to ensure that each of our hotels are at the same level on every issue. With our innovative sustainability practices, we continue to be an example and lead the hospitality industry, as we have always done. 

Sustainable tourism should not only be a passing fad; we must act in order to sustain the tourism industry and leave behind a more livable world for future generations. Our Earth, which is roughly 4.5 billion years old, has been greatly polluted over the course of the last 100 to 150 years with the increasing population and its needs, and we continue to cause more harm to it every day. Ensuring sustainability means supporting the Earth in supporting life. 

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