(This letter to The Straits Times was not published)
6 March 2010
I refer to a Prime News article in The Straits Times on 6 March 2010. Singapore hopes to receive 17 million visitors by year 2015 and the government is gearing up the tourism industry to overcome the challenges involved in meeting this target. This, according to Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education S. Iswaran, refers to not just investments in hardware infrastructure but also transformation and adaptation to "emerging competitive challenges".
Tourism industry globally contributes to economic growth but not without harm to the environment. Tourism's share of global warming has been said to be 12.5 percent, of which aviation alone contributes 5 percent. It has been forecast that carbon emissions from tourism will grow by 162 percent in the period 2005-2035. The tourism industry should thus play a responsible role in reducing its carbon footprint by considering environmentally-friendly processes, systems and solutions. Areas that can be looked into include office administration, event management, travel and transportation, food and catering, efficiencies in water, waste and energy, and the offer of carbon offset schemes.
Information on various aspects of sustainable tourism, education, training and certification can be found on websites such as The International Ecotourism Society (http://www.ecotourism.org), Green Globe or Earth Check (www.earthcheck.org), and Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre (http://www.crctourism.com.au).
For Asian models of sustainable hospitality operations and to participate in a recognition programme, hoteliers can refer to the not-for-profit WildAsia's Responsible Tourism Award (www.wildasia.org).
Managing Editor, Gaia Discovery