HTLS 2021: The luxury travel industry needs to do more than just talk, says Sonu Shivdasani
New Delhi: Sustainability and the elimination of single-use plastic is crucial for the future of the luxury travel industry, Indo-British hotelier Sonu Shivdasani said on Friday, adding that community engagement also plays a role. important role.
âSustainability is the new buzzword in luxury travel, especially after seeing the impact of our previous practices,â said managing director and co-creative director of Soneva, a resort chain, the editor. Jamal Sheikh brunch at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Friday.
âIndustry must realize that all economic activity unfortunately only benefits the 20 to 30% of the richest people on the planet. If you can afford to travel, even on a low-cost airline, or stay in a cheap hotel, you are still in the richest 20% on the planet, and what you consume has an impact on prices. poorer. So we have to be aware of this; we begin to see the consequences of our behavior. On the current trajectory, by 2030, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, âhe added.
Shivdasani said one billion people do not have access to water. “By 2030, sub-Saharan Africa will no longer be able to produce half of its crops, people will not have access to water, Gurgaon, the land of golf courses, is only seeping into the water table phreaticâ¦ â
Shivdasani has worked since the start of his career in the 1990s to promote greater environmental responsibility in the hospitality industry and beyond.
âThe good thing,â he said, âis that the technology is there, the opportunities are there, but the luxury travel industry hasn’t really embraced that yet. lip service because there is so much more to do, when you think about it. â
So what must the luxury travel industry do urgently to save the environment? âYour impact on carbon emissions is a top priority,â he said. âWaste is clearly very important, eliminating single-use plastic and then engaging the community. “
âOne of the big things the travel industry has to think about is how it creates production, but not great happiness for the locals,â he says. âThink of the Spanish coast – the Costa Brava – you’re a Spaniard living there, all of a sudden these Germans come in, and they’re building skyscrapers, they’re building bars, bringing in German workers and food. German. Raw materials exploded, the cost of living increased … as a local you couldn’t live there; one would have to go up on the hills like the Spaniards did with the Mayans – a bit of poetic justice. It is therefore a key element for any hotelier. Do you employ locally? do you engage with the community? Minimize your impact on the planet? “
When asked how luxury travelers have changed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic – Indian luxury travelers in particular – Shivdasani noted that they have become more sensitive as individuals. They also seem to be taking longer vacations. “We are seeing Indian guests staying for two weeks which would not happen before,” he said.
But what is true luxury for Sonu Shivdasani and his wife Eva? âTrue luxury is what is scarce,â he said. âIt’s not about objects, gold or marble. You might have a 40 story house, but can you take a long, barefoot walk in the garden? Can you watch a movie where the star cover isn’t just on screen? “
How should the industry try to bounce back? Shivdasani insisted that resorts and hotels must provide guests with unique experiences they can treasure, experiences they will travel to, safely, in Covid-free environments.