Thai Hotels Association seeking official support for Green Hotels
Despite positive trends, resources are lacking to inspect and certify the sheer volume of properties
The Thai Hotels Association (THA) will seek support from the new government to help increase the number of properties that meet the Green Hotel standard.
The backing may come either in the form of providing financial support or having the THA lead the environmental inspection team.
"The verification process for hotels to get the standard will be sped up, resulting in a higher number of hotels meeting the standard," said Samphan Panpat, the THA's honorary adviser. "At present, the verification process takes some time and caters to 70 hotels a year, due to limited budget and a shortage of experts."
The standard, initiated by the Environmental Quality Promotion Department of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry in 2015, is aimed at encouraging hospitality operators to take greater responsibility in improving society and the environment.
"Sustainable tourism has become more popular among Western tourists over the past few years and the trend continues to grow," Mr Samphan said. "Hotel operators have to improve business to get the Green Hotel standard for better recognition."
Applicants for the standard must pass key criteria to receive the G-mark certification either in gold, silver or bronze. Starting this year, the certification's validity has been extended to three years from two in the past.
With limited budget and inspection from environmentalist teams, few hotels are able to be verified and obtain the G-mark each year.
As many hoteliers are in line to get the certificate, authorities solving the problem would benefit Thai tourism overall, Mr Samphan said.
Akyra Tas Sukhuvit Bangkok provides no-single use plastic product.
The Green Hotel standard is the first step and the minimum requirement for registered hotels with business licences preparing for further environmental standards such as the Asean Green Hotel standard at the regional level. There are some 12,000 hotels registered with local authorities.
The Green Leaf Foundation also issues the Green Leaf mark, considered the strictest and most difficult to obtain.
There are 200 hotels operating domestically that received Green Leaf certification. Dusit Thani Pattaya was the first hotel to receive five-leaf certification.
Mr Samphan said the association has been working with authorities for Thai hotels to embrace the three standards.
The greener, the merrier
Based on THA statistics, in 2018 a total of 73 hotels nationwide obtained Green Hotel certificates. But there are a greater number of hotels that adhere to eco-centric practices in management and services.
Akaryn Hotel Group announced a policy of zero single-use plastics across all its properties in May 2018.
The bold policy began at the newly launched Akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok, which claims to be the first hotel in Asia that has no single-use plastics.
Anchalika: Alleged costs turn off some
Anchalika Kijkanakorn, the group's founder and managing director, said the Green Hotel model has gained attention from European customers, as well as from envoys and visitors from global organisations like the EU.
"Many operators hesitate to go green because they think it will be too expensive or not a beneficial decision," Ms Anchalika said. "The cost of being green is not different from traditional hotel operation. Moreover, the business and ecosystem will benefit in the long run."
After one year of environmental efforts with the aim of changing people's old habits into eco-focused activity, every hotel and resort under Akaryn Hotel Group has become free of single-use plastic since last month, she said.
"Even though some 95% of hotel operations are green, there is still some recycled plastic used in some unavoidable cases," Ms Anchalika said.
The group also focuses on energy conservation, such as installing heat pump systems in order to use renewable energy for hot water.
The Aleenta Phuket-Phang Nga will be renovated this year to add a solar cell system for more eco-friendly air conditioning and water management, Ms Anchalika said.