Southern Sun, green leadersNovember 14th, 2011 by Susan Reynard | Categories: environmental, hotels, industry, tourism, training
Southern Sun Hotels’ MD Graham Wood was delighted with the group’s performance at the 10th annual Imvelo Awards for Responsible Tourism held last week on November 9 (International World Responsible Tourism Day).
The programme is organised by the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (Fedhasa) and recognises tourism businesses that demonstrate suitable responsible practice in their operations in terms of their natural, social and economic environments.
Southern Sun received two awards: Drakensberg Sun won Best Single Resource Management Programme: Water and Best Overall Environmental Management System categories; Southern Sun Waterfront hotel won Best Single Resource Management Programme: Waste; and Southern Sun Hotels Interests won Most Empowered Tourism Business, with the award collected by Mati Nyazema, executive director of the Sandton Convention Centre.
Southern Sun Hotels MD Graham Wood says: “Our journey towards becoming environmentally sustainable forms a crucial tenet of our operations and we are honoured to receive the Imvelo Awards recognising our commitment, especially since Southern Sun is one of the preferred accommodation partners for COP17. We embrace the opportunity to showcase our award winning environmentally responsible hotels during this dynamic event. We are dedicated to serving our valued customers with a professional and caring attitude, simultaneously ensuring that we preserve our heritage for generations to come.”
Continuous efforts towards reducing and managing its impact, and striving to actively contribute to a more sustainable society, Southern Sun Hotels requested the Heritage Environmental Rating Programme to measure and track environmentally responsible business and sustainable practices at all their properties. Annually Heritage audits each Southern Sun property to ensure compliance with environmental standards and procedures.
Southern Sun Hotels, winner of the Most Empowered Tourism Business Group category, has a 43 year history in South Africa and supports education and development within the hospitality industry. For the past 20 years the group has completed an annual skills plan and recorded all training. As an accredited provider, Southern Sun is actively involved in higher education institutions and provides exceptional learning internships to over 400 hotel school students each financial year. It further works closely with CATHSSETA by providing learnerships.
A division called Southern Sun Learning & Development is dedicated to ensuring that every Southern Sun employee has access to education, training and development. In the past year 95% of permanent employees received training. This amounted to 4 020 employees, not including e-learning. Employees are encouraged to build a career within the group, from every level right through to senior management. To this end, mentoring, executive coaching and leadership development is also provided.
In the category Best Single Resource Management Programme: Waste, the Southern Sun Waterfront hotel received the Imvelo Award and the Southern Sun Garden Court Eastern Boulevard in Cape Town was a finalist.
The Southern Sun Waterfront hotel embarked on a journey of establishing a permanent and all-embracing focus on responsible business management, with the environment a firm priority. In conjunction with Soil-for-Life, a food waste composting enterprise, and ZTL (Zero to Landfill Organics), the hotel team has had ongoing training involving all kitchen and service staff, to initiate the waste separation process at source. The entire team has been formally trained by waste management companies on the culture of waste reduction and recycling. This has resulted on all levels of staff being critically aware of their role in the sustainable management of the environment.
The hotel was audited in May 2011 by Heritage and has subsequently been awarded gold status. The hotel’s Green Team next has its sights set on achieving platinum status within the next 12 months.
The Drakensberg Sun Lifestyle Resort remains one of the most sustainable hospitality operations in the country. Over the past five years the resort has demonstrated a workable, sustainable and internationally competitive environmental management system that overarches almost all aspects of its operations.
Water management is integral to the operational activities of this resort. It operates its own water treatment facility that has been proven to add to the downstream quality of water, while its involvement with the Working with Water project continues to result in increased river flow through the property.
The resort is committed to biodiversity protection and the re-introduction of species that have been driven out of the area resulting from poor veld management. Chemicals and pesticides are used responsibly and waste is managed and monitored constantly. Understanding integration between profit, people and planet defines the Drakensberg Sun Lifestyle Resort’s Environmental Management Systems.
Southern Sun Hotels (Pty) Ltd and the Southern Sun Garden Court Hatfield hotel were both finalists in the Investor in People category, while the Southern Sun Newlands hotel and the Riverside Lifestyle Resort reached the finals in the Best Single Resource Management Programme: Water and Best Overall Environmental Management System respectively.
“The process is an infinite one requiring ongoing effort and investment. At Southern Sun we understand the importance of creating an environmentally sustainable tourism industry and it will remain an essential component of our culture and brand promise,” concludes Wood.