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Gathering Tourism Actors on Eco-Responsibility In Siem Reap, Cambodia

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ASSET-H&C is the Association of Southeast Asian Social Enterprises for Training in Hospitality & Catering. This platform brings together 14 vocational training centres working hand in hand to bring positive change in the lives of vulnerable youths by teaching them trades that will allow them to successfully integrate into society.

Every year, in order to create a strong collective dynamic and to highlight common challenges and ways to support each other, members gather for a 2-day seminar.

As part of it, ASSET-H&C organized on December 7th a conference in Siem Reap on “Innovative Solutions for Eco-responsible Hospitality & Tourism“, gathering close to 90 people at the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort.

The afternoon was the opportunity to present ASSET-H&C’s “Ecospitality Initiative“, a collective project that aims at shaping the next generations of responsible tourism professionals in the region by creative conducing environment – eco-schools – and adapted educational tools for eco-students.

Great guest speakers from ArteliaExo TravelInle Heritage & Inle Princess ResortJaya House River Park Hotel & Refill Not LandfillPlastic Free Cambodia and AccorHotels, were also invited to share their experience on topics ranging from carbon emissions to food waste, water preservation and many more. The event was very instructive as hospitality professionals and environmental experts presented practical tools to reduce the environmental footprint of both hospitality training centres and tourism businesses.

« The paradox of plastic is that it is often used once but designed to last forever. »

Sarah Rhodes, founder of Plastic Free Cambodia, listed 5 forms of single-use plastic goods that can be easily avoided or replaced, both in the private and work spheres: water bottles, straws, bags, cups & glasses, and food containers. She underlined that alternatives, such as sugarcane straws, were now both easy to find and affordable. 

A few solutions were also shared to avoid water pollution. Philippe Bés, director of ASSET-H&C school Sala Baï, presented the partnership he implemented with Naga Earth to recycle cooking oils into biodiesel and soaps. Yin Myo Su, founder of Inle Heritage and Inle Princess Resort, presented the natural water treatment plant she and her team installed in her hotel and hospitality school.

« We must be proud to show what is happening at the back of our house too. »

To save energy and water, Nicolas Jallade, environmental expert at Artelia, recommended the use of efficient equipment and fixtures. For instance, water-efficient showerheads consume more than 2 times less water and the initial investment is reimbursed in less than 6 months thanks to water saving! 

Helga Nagy, director of the ASSET-H&C school EHT Paul Dubrule, talked about their measures to reduce food waste, implemented through the use of food trays and no-leftovers policy at the canteen, as well as a partnership with local farmers to use organic waste for compost

Constance Boullier, representing EXO Travel, gave tips about responsible transportationand explained how the agency was raising awareness amongst travellers through a dedicated foundation and an information booklet.

The role of customer demand was indeed raised, with speakers agreeing on the general growing interest of travellers for eco-friendly products and services.

« People appreciate the “stop talking, start acting” mind-set » according to Christian de Boer, General Manager of Jaya House River Park Hotel, who encouraged all tourism businesses, starting with the small ones, to take action given the urgency of the situation.He, for example, implemented a plastic-free policy within the hotel that quickly became95% effective thanks to negotiations with its suppliers.

The topic of the conference raised a great deal of interest as many questions and remarks were directed to the speakers at the end of the conference. All guests were then invited to discuss further around an eco-friendly buffet and left with a personalized Refill Not Landfill reusable bottle offered by ASSET-H&C to become eco-responsible citizens!