Global Hotel Alliance (GHA) and its hotel brands are ramping up their responsible tourism efforts in 2022 with new initiatives. The largest alliance of independent hotel brands, encompassing more than 800 hotels across 40 brands in 100 countries, is capitalising on this position of influence to support projects that protect people and the planet.
GHA is headquartered in Dubai, one of the fastest-growing hotel markets globally and home to many properties in its portfolio where government- and destination-led schemes are bolstering the alliance’s efforts to champion sustainability.
For example, several hotel partners have jumped on board the new ‘Dubai Can’ initiative, launched by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, to encourage residents and visitors to turn the tide on plastic waste.
One GHA hotel brand championing ‘Dubai Can’ that has made great strides to reduce single-use plastics is JA Resorts and Hotels. In January 2019, JA installed water treatment systems along with cleaning and bottling systems at three Dubai properties – JA The Resort, JA Ocean View Hotel and JA Hatta Fort Hotel. This AED 1 million (USD 272 thousand) investment has resulted in an estimated saving of 3.4 million pieces of single-use plastic so far. The company has extended its efforts across to the Indian Ocean, with an on-site bottling plant found at JA Manafaru resort in the Maldives and at JA Enchanted Island Resort in Seychelles.
This year, the alliance contributed for the second time to the Boodles Boxing Ball, a social fundraising event to support various charities, which recently took place in London. Some of London society’s most famous faces such as actresses Millie Mackintosh and Sabrina Bartlett, models Roxy Horner and Amber Le Bon, reality TV show star Binky Felstead, television presenter Louise Roe, former football player Gary Lineker and many others attended and watched the high- energy boxing bots.
The Boodles Boxing Ball has raised more than USD 2.5 million over the past six events, with this year’s contributions in support of Hope and Homes for Children, an international charity that works to keep families together, exceeding USD 1.2 million. Together with some of its hotel brands and properties, including Sun International, Kempinski Hotels and Naladhu Private Island, GHA formed exciting holiday lots for silent and live auctions that contributed over USD 75 thousand for a good cause. The exclusive live auction prize from Naladhu Private Island Maldives, a sister property to Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, included a 5-night stay with half board in a fabulous, newly renovated Beach House with Pool, and was topped up with the elite GHA DISCOVERY Titanium status, D$500, the new digital rewards currency, and business class flights, and raised an impressive USD 67 thousand.
“The responsible tourism movement, accelerated by the pandemic, is challenging the hospitality industry to deliver meaningful change. Consumers now expect their favorite brands to reshape the world in a sustainable way, trusting companies that demonstrate social and environmental awareness and avoiding those who do not,” said GHA’s CEO Chris Hartley.
“As a brand trusted by 21 million travelers around the world, we have a captive audience of sustainably-minded consumers who are calling on us to help them make responsible travel choices. We have therefore initiated a strategy to meet this need, not only offering stays at some of the world’s most responsibly operated hotels but looking at innovative ways to help members contribute to sustainable projects, whether financially, through DISCOVERY Dollars (D$), or taking part in the community and environmental programs at the destinations they visit,” he adds.
Collectively, GHA brands and hotels lend their support to multiple charitable initiatives globally, including programs dedicated to education for children, healthcare and social wellbeing, environmental protection and animal welfare.
Projects under the Children & Youth Program theme include the Children’s Hospital Foundation in Queensland, Australia, which helps sick children and their families and conducts research into childhood illnesses, supported by Oaks Hotels, Resorts and Suites; the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, a leader in child protection and development, supported by The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts; the Kianh Foundation, a UK and Vietnam registered charity that has been working with children with disabilities in and around Hoi An since 2000, supported by Avani Hotels & Resorts; and the Gift of Happiness Foundation, dedicated to helping underprivileged children in Bangkok, supported by The Sukhothai Hotels & Resorts.
Under the Animal Welfare theme, initiatives include the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, supported by Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas. This renowned foundation provides world-class welfare to elephants in their own dedicated forest in Northern Thailand, sponsors projects that help provide and improve elephant welfare, and implements wild elephant conservation, scientific research and education throughout South-East Asia.
The Environmental Protection theme embraces some pioneering projects, with Outrigger Resorts supporting the Polynesian Voyaging Society, a non-profit organization that perpetuates the art and science of traditional Polynesian voyaging and the spirit of exploration through hands-on educational programmes; the Land & Life Foundation in Kenya, educating communities to protect local wildlife and leverage its tourism potential sustainably, supported by Elewana Collection; and Tivoli Hotels and Resorts supporting the Fundação Projeto Tamar, a private non-profit entity pioneer in marine conservation in Brazil.
“These are just a few examples of how GHA and its hotel brands are making a difference, contributing to a brighter future for all and where sustainable practices are the norm,” said Hartley.
“Our future initiatives will not only include the roll-out of more pioneering projects supported by our hotel brands but look to involve travellers across multiple touchpoints, from encouraging them to donate D$ to initiatives under the philanthropic themes that resonate with them most. We are committed to ensuring GHA remains a favored global brand, trusted not just because of the high-quality products and services we offer, but crucially, the responsible approach we take to deliver them.”