The Tsogo Sun group, along with Tsogo Sun’s Riverside Sun Resort, and two of the group’s Sandton hotels walked away with a laudable collection of five of the total of nine awards at the 2012 Imvelo Responsible Tourism Awards on 31 October, with Riverside Sun taking the Overall Winner award, selected from the eight category winners.

The Imvelo Responsible Tourism Awards programme, running for the 11th year, is organised by the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (FEDHASA) in association with the National Department of Tourism. Imvelo awards tourism businesses that demonstrate sustained responsible practice in their operations in terms of their natural, social and economic environments, and is recognised as having had a huge impact on tourism in South Africa, creating significant awareness of environmental management issues in the industry.

Riverside Sun Resort, picturesquely situated on the banks of the Vaal River a few kilometres away from Vanderbijlpark, also won the Best Single Resource Management Programme – Energy Management, and the Best Single Resource Management Programme – Water Management awards. Parent company Tsogo Sun took the Most Empowered Tourism Business award, while Tsogo Sun’s InterContinental Sandton Towers and Sandton Sun Hotel together won the Best Overall Environmental Management System award.

All the hotels and resorts within the Tsogo Sun group fall under Tsogo Sun’s SunCares Environmental Management Programme, which is renowned for its ongoing commitment to effective environmental management. “The sustainability of our business practices and our communities is core to our business strategy and in this vital pillar of the SunCares programme, Tsogo Sun is a catalyst for change through partnerships that champion the wellbeing of our planet,” says Dhrupal Amin, Group Commercial Executive, Tsogo Sun.

Riverside Sun Resort has undertaken a huge drive to green the property since mid-2010 and improved from a pending Silver Heritage Rating to Gold in a short period of 12 months, which it retained and improved in the following 12 month period. The main focus of Riverside’s environmental committee over the past two years has been to identify action and maintain key environmental impacts associated with its day to day operations. This has seen changes being made to the way it operates, communicates, and manages the property to create a sustainable future for the resort.

Through various projects and programmes, Riverside Sun has shown a vast improvement in its waste, water and energy consumptions. While occupancy year on year increased by 11%, water consumption only increased by 5% showing a 6% saving. Energy consumption only increased by 6.5% showing a saving of 4.5%. Separated waste recycling showed a 12.6% year on year increase. Overall, the resort’s staff remains dedicated to maintaining and improving efficiencies and preserving the natural environment for future generations.

The Most Empowered Tourism Business award is given to a group that has addressed the issues of empowerment and has contributed to a globally competitive, demographically representative tourism industry. Among the initiatives undertaken by Tsogo Sun which serve as leading examples for empowerment in South Africa are the Tsogo Sun Academy, which was created to transfer skills to employees from previously disadvantaged communities; the Tsogo Sun Book-a-Guesthouse entrepreneurial development programme which provides business support to women in the South African tourism industry; procurement policies which see R2.6 billion worth of goods and services purchased from black economically empowered businesses annually; and an overall strategy that is based on the fundamental desire to do the right thing.

The Sandton Sun Hotel and InterContinental Johannesburg Sandton Towers share a common Environmental Management System (EMS) and were judged together. Having integrated the EMS into their hotel operations, both hotels went from a certified Silver status in 2010/2011 to a Platinum pending status (96%) in July 2012 from the Heritage Environmental Management Company, showing an overall EMS improvement of 39% within 24 months, with 19% in the past 12 months. This continuous improvement is a result of regular monitoring and measuring of its resource management and overall performance, as well as the introduction of Heritage Eco and Resource Calculator tools to measure hotel carbon footprint, among other improvements.

“It’s always a proud moment for any one of our properties to be awarded an Imvelo Award,” says Graham Wood, Managing Director of Tsogo Sun hotels. “These awards embody the principles behind our SunCares programme and our desire to hold responsible tourism in the highest regard. We believe that the more responsible we are, the more likely we are to extend awareness of the need to protect our global environment to every guest who comes through any one of Tsogo Sun’s doors.”

Source: Tsogo Sun