ITP Business group editor - hospitality Louise Oakley ITP Business group editor - hospitality Louise Oakley

I have a confession, says ITP Business group editor Louise Oakley . Every year, Hotelier investigates the trends in the development of sustainable hotels in the Middle East, and every year, I approach the task with a degree of scepticism.

When the phrase ‘green hotels’ looms closer on the editorial calendar, I brace myself for the usual barrage of beach clean-ups, new shower installations, LED retrofits and the ubiquitous Earth Hour ‘achievements’.

But this year, I had to hold my tongue; these announcements were replaced with an influx of statistics and certifications from hotel chains across the region, proud to have beaten previously set sustainability targets and on the road to making a real difference to the impact of their property on the environment.

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Overall, a marked shift has occurred in the industry and in just 12 months since Hotelier last explored the ‘green’ topic in detail, a remarkable amount has been achieved — instead of taking small steps towards sustainability, hoteliers are starting to make great strides.

The numbers speak for themselves: Grand Hyatt Dubai cut diesel consumption by 33% through the installation of solar panels; Jordan Valley Marriott Dead Sea saved 67% on diesel bills within just one week of switching to solar energy; Banyan Tree Al Wadi in Ras Al Khaimah has reduced solid waste disposal by 65% in nine months; and Rezidor achieved a 12% waste reduction per guest night at Radisson Blu properties last year.

Still to come, Mövenpick is rapidly achieving Green Globe certification for all its Middle Eastern hotels — most recently, Mövenpick Hotel & Resort Al Bida’a Kuwait achieved 82% of Green Globe’s sustainability indicators in its inaugural year; Jumeirah, Marriott and Fairmont are prioritising LEED principles for new hotels; and Accor’s Environment Charter comprises 65 actions that hotels must follow to reduce their environmental impact.

With each global chain’s corporate eco-strategies filtering down to the Middle East, the issue now is one of incentives. What can those at the top of the tree do to ensure the green message is embraced by all GMs and transferred through the ranks?

Accor is now incentivising its general managers to reach green standards, raising the idea of monetary compensations. Should governments be doing more by offering rewards for achieving sound sustainable performance? Email me your thoughts...