HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 27TH INTER-UNIVERSITY SEMINAR ON SUSTAINABLE TOURISM

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 27TH INTER-UNIVERSITY SEMINAR ON SUSTAINABLE TOURISM

Introduction

Luxury is the ability to offer extremely differentiated products, with excellent quality, exclusivity, uniqueness, rarity and craftsmanship. Luxurious hospitality has inbuilt sustainability attributes is resilient and less wasteful. Thus it does not have to keep changing with time because sustainability is now and the new future. Personalized seamless service, safe and secure experiences, are some of the key values of luxurious hospitality. Students, Lectures and Private sector business converged at Moi University, Eldoret to discuss on Sustainable Hospitality with respect to SDG 12

Emerging Issues

Why sustainable tourism matters

Sustainability enhances several luxury values, and can originate eco centered values in luxury. Luxury is no longer about experiences based on monetary values, but on shared value that contributes to prosperity and happiness of all involved directly and indirectly. In the age of sustainable consumption and production, luxury has evolved in hospitality. The evolution is being led by disruptive innovations that enhance experience. Such innovations do not necessarily provide cheap options.

Consumer tastes are evolving, and the value of luxury brand often questioned. Hospitality clients are mindful of industrial background of luxury brands, and will raise questions about how luxurious travel experiences are produced. Luxury has elegant disruptions, i.e. innovations in markets that both uses and affects aspirations in ways that change patterns of consumption, production or exchange for a positive social outcome. Elegant disruptors, care about social and environmental problems in a deep way, that they are motivated to break norms to address those problems. Tourism students have the power to disrupt how hospitality services in travel are offered. They have the power, the knowledge, and must be willing to question issues and think in line with sustainable development goals. Sustainable hospitality is a call to reimagine luxury. It requires a new mindset, courage to unlearn and relearn hospitality. It is important that hospitality sector adopts sustainability as a quality management system to future proof businesses.

Opportunities for hotels in eco luxury

Achieving eco luxury is a thought to action process that considers impacts and opportunities that not only enhance hospitality experiences, but also contribute to development. One way of having eco luxury experience for hospitality sector is turning organic waste into energy. Hotels produce large amounts of food waste which can be reduced. Converting this waste to a resource to complement hotel’s needs is also important for a circular economy. Another way of achieving eco luxury is designing luxury to tackle current global challenges like climate change. Adopting green transport can contribute to mitigation of climate change.
Eco luxury experiences rely on alternatives for delivering better experiences that contribute to social and environmental justice. For example plastic is a product of choice in hospitality, and the sector can deliberately refuse to use plastic and go for for environmentally friendly options.

Waste can be wide spread in luxury hospitality. Hospitality sector can use the 7 R’ s as an approach to manage waste.
Refuse – just say no
Reduce – buy things that last longer, with minimal packaging
Repurpose and Reuse- transform to something cooler
Recycle – Use again
Rot – Let nature take its cause
Rethink- do you really need to purchase it

Luxury from a sustainable tour operator lens; case of Lets Go Travel

Lets Go Travel Uniglobe (LGTU) is a sustainable travel management company, basing its agenda on four principles, – Community tourism, conservation, education and livelihood. As a sustainable operator, LGTU believes that luxury is about authentic, sustainable and inclusive experiences. Indeed, luxury tourism is evolving and both suppliers and luxury travelers are embracing responsible ways of travel. Luxury has evolved from material focus on standardized luxury items and comforts, to unique, authentic, personal experiences that include measures of philanthropy. Old luxury travelers want an oasis of luxury and familiarity, sprinkled with a little selected exoticism from a safe distance. New luxury travelers see untouched nature and wildlife as luxury. They want personalized meaningful experiences from hotels and service providers who care.

LGTU is very conscious about how its practice contributes to climate change. Its climate action and other development initiatives involves its supply chain, and the people who will benefit from LGTU intervention. LGTU has different programs that have helped the company move from the old way of offering luxury experiences to a new way of luxury experiences with shared value. An example is their traveler’s philanthropy initiative.

Luxury travelers value authenticity and uniqueness of places they visit. This means that they want to experience local culture, arts, and traditions. As a result, this presents opportunities for host communities to become tourism practitioners. In addition, luxury travel buyers that seek authentic adventures and wildlife will gladly pay extra premiums to experience natural beauty, making environmental protection better as funds are collected from conservancy fees go towards protection of wildlife and environment.

Should travelers choose between luxury and sustainability?

Travelers can have both sustainability and luxury in one experience packaged as sustainable luxury. Tour operators have a pivotal role in creating sustainable luxury. If tour operators can take the lead in dictating how tourism and hospitality should be packaged as a sustainable sector, then transport will change, the food industry will change, and everything else that tourism touches will change.

Tour operators have the ability to influence sustainable inclusiveness in the supply chain. Today, certified hospitality facilities and sustainable tourism providers support various local projects in health and education. Local host community can stand to benefit from developed infrastructure, such as power, roads, water, which come as a demand from luxury travelers.

Tourism can orient luxury to sustainability through;

  • Having social and environmental performance of real excellence throughout the value chain.
  • Involving craftsmanship preserving the cultural heritage of different destinations
  • Devising sustainable development and CSR strategies to enrich the value set of luxury brands.

Conclusion

Sustainability as a base for creating luxury experiences creates an opportunity to offer innovative and transformative experiences, which is limited in business as usual models. Luxurious hospitality is shifting from utilizing resources to managing resources, and a ready market segment exists for luxury brands that try to excel on sustainability dimensions. Sustainability therefore, is the new luxury.

Presentations by:

STTA

Let’s Go Travel Uniglobe

Students from Moi University

Faculty from University of Eldoret

Universities in Attendance

Moi University-Hosts
University of Eldoret
Total number of Students in attendance: 79

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