I recently had the pleasure of attending the Skal World International Congress, which brought innovators and leaders from 80 nations to Mexico City to discuss, promote and commend sustainability and corporate responsibility efforts throughout the international hospitality community.
Diversey Care, a division of Sealed Air, has worked with the hospitality and tourism industries for decades, adding value through innovative, cost-effective and high-performance products and services. At the event, we sponsored the Skal Sustainable Development in Tourism (SDIT) Awards by Diversey Care and the Skal Special Recognition Award by Diversey Care. We have partnered with Skal since 2009, and the World International Congress provides a perfect platform to ensure sustainability remains an ongoing discussion. It also great opportunity to meet with leaders in the hospitality and tourism industries to learn about trends and customer needs.
The awards shine a light on the best practices in hospitality from around the globe. The winners shared innovative and inspirational projects that support the conservation of nature, nurture cultural heritage and improve the communities in which their properties operate. The winners include:
- Tour Operators: Rios Tropicales: Sustainable Adventure Tourism/Cost Rica
- Urban Accommodation: Chiva-Som International Health Resorts/Thailand
- Rural Accommodation: ATDC’s – Baramati Agri & Rural Tourism Training, Research and Development Center/India
- Transportation: Viking Grace/Finland
- Countryside: The Rainforest EcoLodge/Sri Lanka
- Marine: Mepsec Hua Hin (Mangrove Ecosystem Preservation & Scientific Education Center)/Thailand
- Community and Government Projects: Naalumanikkattu/India
- Major Tourist Attractions: The South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance/South Africa
In addition to celebrating these companies for their sustainability efforts, we were also honored to present the Skal Special Recognition Award by Diversey Care. This award celebrates projects that reimagine the conventional understanding of sustainability, delivering a measurable output focused on people, planet and profit. After looking at projects that inspire innovative approaches to sustainability, judges from Diversey Care were proud to recognize ATDC’s Baramati Agri & Rural Tourism Training, Research & Development Center in India.
ATDC is driven to develop, promote and implement sustainable tourism to diversify and stabilize rural economies through job creation, community income growth, broadening the market base for local businesses and attracting tourists to the area. Their vision of sustainable tourism for small farmers across India is revolutionary, centered on an innovative model that maintains the rich heritage of India while alleviating local poverty. Through the ATDC project’s training of 500 farmers and support of 300 agri-tourism locations, farmers across the state of Maharashtra have experienced a 25 percent growth in income.
The Dark Side of Tourism and the Importance of Creating Shared Value
In addition to the awards, the event also provided an opportunity to speak upon the evils within tourism – child trafficking – and what initiatives the hospitality industry can take to counter this growing issue. I discussed the root causes of why vulnerable families have to resort to selling children to survive, and how increased awareness of human trafficking is essential for increasing child protection.
In response to these issues, Diversey Care launched its signature Creating Shared Value (CSV) initiatives for Latin America at the Congress. By addressing societal needs through a business model, we can alleviate problems such as child trafficking. The hospitality industry can create livelihood initiatives for vulnerable communities to provide a means for community members to earn an income, thus sparing them the pain of needing to sell a child.
Efforts to remain socially responsible and sustainable are key to leading the hospitality industry into the future. The Skal World International Congress proved to be an inspiring look ahead, showing the industry’s dedication to social and environmental concerns and the passion to continue to learn best practices being implemented around the globe.