by Mallika Naguran
A tiny Khmer girl joined her mother in picking up litter on the grounds of Angkor Thom. She was perhaps a wee too young to understand what the fuss was about, but clearly, her mother, a Spa Supervisor with Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa, knew the significance, and urged her on. Rom Syma is keen for her daughter to protect their natural heritage – the 13th century Bayon Temple, a World Heritage site - and Cambodia’s pride.
The 5th Victoria Hotels & Resorts Green Day held on the 27th of September 2008 is an annual event organized by the French-owned chain, involving staff, communities, students and even hotel guests “to show commitment to environment protection”. The boutique chain holds simultaneously one-day cleanup excursions within popular eco destinations in Cambodia and Vietnam as a way of demonstrating that tourism can grow without endangering the local environment.
The hotels have put in considerable effort to orchestrate grand official opening ceremonies to create excitement among participants, in particular children. In Siem Reap, Cambodia, an entourage of staff leaves Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa headed for the temple ruins, in vintage cars and motorbikes with Victoria Resorts Green Day flags flapping in the wind. Such events build solidarity among staff on top of educating them on the need to keep the environment clean. They were also told, for instance, not to touch the carvings on the ruins, which came as something new for some.
At the end of the event, participants helped themselves to refreshments. This in itself is a treat to many poor children who have never enjoyed quality sandwiches and pastries prepared by the resort’s own kitchen.
Cleaning Up Vietnam
Down by the Mekong River at Ninh Kieu quay, Can Tho, more than 150 people on boats picked up more than a ton of garbage. The Youth-Union of Can Tho city and Can Tho University joined the staff of Victoria Can Tho Resort in this effort.
At Victoria Phan Thiet Beach Resort & Spa, 400 residents and 150 staff picked up rubbish along the Phu Hai – Mui Ne road and along the beach. In Chau Doc, 150 school children, volunteers and Victoria Chau Doc Hotel staff scaled Sam Mountain to remove waste such as plastics, paper, and glass.
Down by the coast, Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa roped in 130 participants to organize beach and river clean-up. This year, Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa had to call the exercise off due to a typhoon alert.
Pleased with the overall turnout of more than 1,000 participants, Eric Simard managing director of the hotel chain, said, “As a group we are committed to spreading the environmental message across Indochina.”
With continued commitment by this hotel chain and other organizations in conserving the environment, I am sure more of us, just like the little girl in Siem Reap, will learn to care for our planet naturally.
Photos by Mallika Naguran and Victoria Hotels & Resorts
About Victoria Hotels & Resorts
Victoria Hotels & Resorts operates the mountain chalet-style Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa, close to the Chinese border in the picturesque north-west highlands of Vietnam; Victoria Can Tho Resort and Victoria Chau Doc Hotel in the Mekong Delta; Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa on the outskirts of the UNESCO World Heritage city of Hoi An; Victoria Phan Thiet Beach Resort & Spa 200km north of Ho Chi Minh City; and Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Visit Victoria Hotels & Resorts (www.victoriahotels.asia) for more information.