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Hospitality Investment Conference Africa � Johannesburg

Since Sunday I have been the at HICA Conference at the Hilton in Johannesburg ? Adama Bah and Paul Miedema both winners of Responsible Tourism Awards; Heidi Keyser one of our ICRT Associates and Marc Myers and Bongani Dlamini both members of the alumni were all there. Marc Myers now has a development role with Intrepid and Bongani is marketing manager with the Swaziland Tourism Board. Murray Simpson who did the MSc at Greenwich and went on to do a PhD in the Geography Department at Oxford presented on climate change. It was good to have time to spend with old friends and a host of others who I have worked with in South Africa over the last 9 years.

 

I have had a crash course in the hotel development process, it is clear that no one is able to take responsibility for the design of hotels ? all too often the owner determines the priorities for the design, rarely do they plan to own it for long enough for environmentally friendly design to pay off. Electricity and water are still too cheap for the owners to be concerned about the costs ? and they pay the planners and architects. In the Hilton, in Sandton, electricity (well in reality coal) was burnt to reduce the temperature way too low ? causing people to shiver and acquire sore throats and it was not possible to switch off the outdoor balcony lights blazing away in bright sunshine.

 

Research undertaken for the conference suggests that the return on investment on equivalent hotels in South Africa is twice what it is Europe ? hoteliers apparently are making money so fast they don?t need to reduce their costs. Regulation is required.

 

There were sessions on Sunday on Responsible Tourism covering local economic linkages, travel philanthropy and climate change. The Tourism Business Council of South Africa and SATSA are beginning to adopt Responsible Tourism approaches and to promote them to their members ? there is much more to be done but the movement is gathering practitioners and pace.

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