Latest news and insights from various sources relating to UN Sustainable Development Goals.

STA enhances resilience of tourism-reliant communities to climate change risks

Some of the most vulnerabe tourist operators have benefited from assistance for resilient efforts towards the effects and risks of Climate Change.

The Samoa Tourism Authority (STA) in collaboration with the Integrating Climate Change Risks into Tourism Sector (ICCRITS) facilitated training on adaptation to climate change for some of the small scale tourism operators.

With funding provided by ICCRITS for kayaking equipment and training through the Small Grants Scheme, three selected businesses of tourism operators now have the capacity to support new revenue streams needed to respond to the effects of climate change.

The three beneficiaries are the Sweet Escape Fales at Manono Island, Sunset View Fales also at Manono Islands, and Joelan Beach Fales at Lano in Savai’i Island.

The STA team through its Climate Change project and members of its Planning and Development Division facilitated the assistance.

This is an excerpt from an article originally published by the South Pacific Tourism Organisation.


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Antalya: Solutions to today’s development challenges exist in the Global South, stresses UN official

27 November 2017 – Solutions to today’s critical development challenges exist in the Global South, and every country – large or small, emerging economy or least developed – has something to offer to the world, a senior United Nations official said today, as the 2017 Global South-South Cooperation Expo opened in Antalya, Turkey.

“The advantage and beauty of South-South cooperation is that this modality of international relations relies on solidarity expressed in concrete and demonstrable sharing of technical know-how, experience and resources among developing countries,” said Jorge Chediek, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on South-South Cooperation and Director of the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), at the opening ceremony.

Hundreds of participants from over 120 countries, including government ministers, development agency directors, and international and civil society stakeholders, have gathered for the world’s preeminent forum for showcasing, sharing, and scaling up innovative local solutions to global problems.

The event, hosted by the Government of Turkey and coordinated by UNOSSC, will focus on solutions “for the South, by the South” throughout the week. The theme “South-South Cooperation in the Era of Economic, Social and Environmental Transformation: The Road to the 40th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA+40),” aims to engage stakeholders to scale up concrete solutions from the South to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“South-South cooperation has gained a new centrality with respect to the 2030 Agenda, always complementing North-South cooperation, not replacing it. And despite the challenges before us, South-South approaches provide a window of opportunity for all of us to share hard-won lessons,” Mr. Chediek said.

“Your presence here is proof that you are ready to take up the challenge; that you are ready to build bridges and partnerships; that you believe that solutions we have can be shared and can help us build a better world. Every country can contribute – emerging economy or LDC – all of us can share and can contribute to the effort.”

Since its inception in 2008, the Expo has featured documented best practices from hundreds of partner countries, UN agencies, private-sector enterprises and civil society organizations.

“Turkey began providing development assistance to countries in the region in the 1920s,” said Mevlüt Çavusoglu, Foreign Minister of Turkey.

Today the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) operates in over 120 countries, he explained, adding that Turkey ranks second in the world for humanitarian aid as per percentage of its gross national income.

Earlier this year, Turkey signed an agreement with the UN to establish a Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries to strengthen the science, technology and innovation capacity in the world’s poorest countries toward achieving the 2030 Agenda. “Knowledge-sharing is a priority for Turkey,” the Minister said.

One of the highlights of the week is the Exhibition, which was inaugurated following the opening ceremony and boasts 58 booths and 3 photo exhibits showcasing tested development solutions from the South.

The Expo takes place in the lead up to the 40th anniversary of the historic adoption of the 1978 Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA).

The Plan of Action set the agenda for the innovative concept of South-South cooperation and provided a foundation to build the institutional mechanisms and structures that have contributed to shaping the international development agenda and changing the landscape of the global South as it is seen today. Argentina will host Second High-level UN Conference on South-South Cooperation, marking the 40th anniversary of the BAPA, in March 2019.

This week’s gathering will focus on a number of issues, including climate change partnerships; peacebuilding; private sector engagement; science, technology and innovation; public service innovation; big data; youth employment and skills development; and women’s empowerment.

Finding the optimal room rate for sustainable tourism

Dr. Aurora Dawn Reinke, ISHC, ISSP-SA writes a new monthly column for Travindy focusing on topics and research that support the business case for sustainability in hospitality and tourism.

The Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management recently published a theoretical model for the relationship between room rate and sustainability (1). The study, which focuses on top line impact of sustainability, accounts for demand, price sensitivity, sustainability effort and costs, sustainability willingness to pay and demand, variable and fixed hotel costs. The authors determined factors that affect optimal room rate.

The negative factors were general price sensitivity, lower willingness to pay for sustainability, and the cost sustainability. Probably not surprising. We already know that higher price sensitivity tends to relate to lower room rates. This study shows higher price elasticity related to less investment in sustainability, which is more likely to occur in economy and budget hotels than in the luxury or midscale markets.

The three positive factors were:

  • Hotel capacity, or primary demand. Large hotels not only have higher capacity but also the staff and financial means to implement, maintain, and grow sustainability. This relates to the effort factor.
  • Customers’ sensitivity to sustainability. Recognition and preference for certain activities and features results in willingness to pay a premium.
  • Type of demand. Hotels with a blend of leisure and business customers, based on events and seasonal draw are more likely to see positive relationship between room rate and sustainability.

There is also a positive feedback loop effect: More investment in sustainability improves ability to implement (effort) and increases demand and willingness to pay. This leads to greater ability to invest. At a certain point however, there is a point of diminishing return, but improved efficiency in integrating sustainability results in costs savings that enable the hotel to hold prices at an optimal level, increasing demand and allowing for more sustainability.

Takeaway for Owners

Sustainability programs tend to be set at a corporate level within companies that own or manage a diverse set of properties, and one size does not fit all. Many owners have a mixed portfolio that includes a range of property sizes, market conditions (demand generators, competitors, etc.), brands, and star levels. Executives can use this research to create a sustainability strategy that accounts for these differences.

For example, there may be a subset of hotels that get minimal sustainability upgrades with sufficient cost savings to maintain or lower room rates. Another subset of properties will have a more integrated and intensive approach to sustainability because the macro and micro conditions produce the positive feedback loop presented above. Executives deeply committed to sustainability may even choose to require properties in their portfolio support an ongoing, profitable investment in environmental and social initiatives.

Similarly, revenue managers need to account for such factors. Using industry and past performance data, they can create what-if scenarios to optimize prices based on the input they already use, plus sustainability as an influencing factor.

Drawbacks

There are two downsides to point out. One relates to results of the study; the other relates to the methodology.

First, for economy and budget hotels, the revenue argument is not strong. We need research and tools that demonstrate the ROI in terms of employee retention and performance, and costs savings (many of which are well documented, and others in need of more research and data). The news is not all bad for sustainability advocates in this category; it just means using different models and approaches to make the business case.

Second, a weakness of the study is that “sustainability effort” is both complex and vague. The idea is that as a hotel gets more adept at executing sustainability efforts, the effectiveness and efficiency improve. But putting numbers or a rating to this can be complicated. Financial decision makers may need to do some research and data gathering to determine “effort level.” Furthermore, the authors recognize that sustainability could be broken down into social and environmental. Other studies show willingness to pay is higher for some sustainability efforts than others.

Calling All Math Geeks

If you’re a numbers-oriented person and not afraid of a scary looking equation, I recommend you read the full article and test the theory using your own data. I would love to hear about both the results and the experience of gathering the data and calculating your optimal room rate.

Travindy’s new columnist Dr. Aurora Dawn Reinke, ISHC, ISSP-SA, founded Astrapto to bring about sustainability change in hospitality, travel, and events. Astrapto Academy offers practical online training and toolkits to make sustainability simplified and approachable for busy industry professionals. Aurora’s contribution to sustainability in these sectors includes chairing the Business Travel Working Group for the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), serving on the sustainability committee of the Global Business Travel Association, and on the redesign task force for green meeting standards for the Events Industry Council. She is always open to dialogue and ideas for how to promote the sustainability business case – email her at [email protected].

reference (1) Xu, X., Xiao, G., & Gursoy, D. (2017). Maximizing profits through optimal pricing and sustainability strategies: A joint optimization approach. Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management, 26(4), 395–415. https://doi.org/10.1080/19368623.2017.1245168

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