Eco-Guide for Hospitality Businesses and Schools in Mekong Region
Transforming Vision Into Action - Guidelines and Tools
27 January 2022
As COVID-19 has made travellers more aware of their impacts on the environment and local communities, they are looking for more responsible ways to truly engage with the people and places they visit. Such enhanced interest for authentic experiences reaffirms the importance of well-trained human resources in tourism and hospitality, even in the contactless new normal.
In the Mekong Region, thirteen social enterprises have come together to form the Association of Southeast Asian Social Enterprises for Training in Hospitality & Catering – ASSET-H&C. For years, they have contributed to filling a labour gap in the tourism and hospitality industry. Most importantly, they have helped reduce inequality and enhanced the benefits of tourism for local populations by creating more opportunities for disadvantaged youth. To date, the members of ASSET-H&C have supported more than 24,000 people living in and around holiday destinations to build a better life for themselves and their family.
At ASSET-H&C member schools, which combine a trade school with a hotel, restaurant, or bakery, students learn both technical and transversal competences to become not only highly skilled professionals but also responsible and autonomous adults who can be agents of their own development. Well aware of the necessity to shape a new generation of responsible tourism workforce which can cater for the increasing demand for sustainable experiences, the schools also champion greener and more sustainable tourism practices.
As part of ASSET-H&C’s commitment to support a responsible and sustainable recovery from COVID-19 in line with the One Planet Vision, notably in the area of social inclusion, ASSET-H&C has now translated the Eco-Guide for Hospitality Businesses and Schools into Burmese, Khmer, Thai, and Vietnamese. The Eco-Guide is an example of the integration of sustainable practices into the schools’ training and operations to inspire students to take actions on these issues. The guide was created to assist hospitality and tourism stakeholders on their journey to becoming eco-friendlier and more sustainable. It includes 55 tips and good practices to reduce the impact of tourism on the environment and make significant financial savings with easy-to-implement actions, accessible to anyone regardless of their technical background. The Eco-Guide was originally published in English in 2018 as an outcome of the Ecospitality Initiative which was implemented in collaboration with Artelia Engineering and involved audits of the environmental practices of the schools.
One of ASSET-H&C missions is to help members go even further in their commitment to inclusive and sustainable tourism. For that purpose, it recently co-published with Plan International “Valued. Paid. Recognized.”, a study on women's empowerment in the Mekong tourism and hospitality sector. The study showcases the best practices of some ASSET-H&C members to promote personal and professional development of disadvantaged students, especially young women.
The growing demand for responsible tourism is more than just a trend; it represents a shift in customers’ awareness and a call for action on this global emergency. As a result, tourism service providers are adapting, and soon services and products that respond to the demand and contribute to making a positive impact will become predominant. The Eco-Guide is meant to accompany them on this more sustainable pathway by providing accessible and easy guidance to start taking action.
This article for Transforming One Planet Vision into Action has been brought to you by the Association of Southeast Asian Social Enterprises for Training in Hospitality & Catering (ASSET-H&C), a network of innovative vocational training centres that support the social and economic inclusion of vulnerable people in Southeast Asia, through training and professional integration in hospitality and catering. The network promotes hands-on, market-related, and sustainable educational approaches in Technical, Vocational Education. It also is a key regional player in sustainable hospitality and tourism. Find out more at www.assethc.org
The Eco-Guide has been translated with the valuable support of Australian Volunteers International, GoGreen Cambodia, Hospitality-Catering Training Centre, Myanmar Responsible Tourism Institute, Phuket Hotels Association, Sach va Xanh and Sala Baï Hotel and Restaurant School.