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Soneva wins WTTC’s Tourism for Tomorrow Award in the Environment category

Posted on Thursday 30th of April, 2015

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Soneva was announced as the winner of the prestigious Word Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Tourism for Tomorrow Award 2015 in the Environment category at the WTTC Global Summit in Madrid in April. The award is regarded as the Oscars for sustainability in travel and tourism.

Soneva CEO Sonu Shivdasani (second from left) receives the Tourism for Tomorrow Award 2015 from Graham Miller, Lead Judge, Fiona Jeffery OBE, ChairTourism for Tomorrow Awards and Environment Award Sponsor, Tristan Kirchner, Executive Director, Visa Europe.

Soneva CEO Sonu Shivdasani (second from left) receives the Tourism for Tomorrow Award 2015 from Graham Miller, Lead Judge, Fiona Jeffery OBE, ChairTourism for Tomorrow Awards and Environment Award Sponsor, Tristan Kirchner, Executive Director, Visa Europe.

The Tourism for Tomorrow award’s robust judging process includes a site visit to each of the shortlisted properties. It is arguably regarded as the Oscars of environmental / sustainability awards in the hospitality industry.

Each year, more than 20 international experts from around the world, representing the private sector, academic institutions, non-profit organisations, and governments, come together as independent judges to select the finalists and winners of the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. The judging process, where independent experts visit each of the 15 finalists, is the most rigorous of any awards process in the travel & tourism industry.

WTTC awarded Soneva for its efforts in pioneering environmental sustainability at its two resorts, located in the Maldives (Soneva Fushi) and Thailand (Soneva Kiri).

Blueprint
At Soneva, we strive to provide a blueprint for the hospitality industry. We innovate to reduce our own emissions and costs and also to prove to our peers that this is possible. By adding a two per cent environmental levy to our guests’ bills, we have raised around USD 5.7 million towards environmental projects. Projects will mitigate 1 million tonnes CO2over seven years, far exceeding Soneva’s carbon footprint including guest flights.

So far, projects, including the Myanmar Stoves Campaign, have reached 150,000+ people.

Similarly, we banned imported water in 2008 and produce all of our drinking water on site. This has reduced carbon emissions and also avoided disposing of 900,000 plastic bottles.   The savings achieved from this have been invested in The Soneva Foundation to give over 600,000 people access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

SLOW LIFE Foundation - Myanmar Stoves Project

Reaching beyond its business
Soneva has convened some of the world’s greatest minds across science, business, philanthropy and policy at our annual SLOW LIFE Symposium. Described by one of our participants as a ‘laboratory of intent’, the event provides leaders with the time and space to address environmental challenges and to create tangible, collaborative solutions.

And it has delivered real results. In 2011 the WHOLE WORLD Water initiative was conceived.

Scaling the Soneva model of filtering and bottling water locally and donating a percentage of revenues to clean water initiatives, the model eliminates plastic waste and unnecessary transportation miles and allows the whole travel and tourism industry to unite on the critical issue of clean and safe water for all.

Creating value
Soneva recycles over 80% of waste through our state-of-the art Eco Centro ‘Waste to Wealth’ programme. 100% of food waste is composted and the fertile soil produced is reused in our 7,500 m2 vegetable gardens. We have received numerous guest comments praising Soneva Fushi’s rocket salad as tasting far better than top city restaurants, despite being situated in the Maldives far from good agricultural land.

USD 100,000 of value per year is generated from our recycling efforts and vegetable production. Currently we are looking into selling readymade compost to the local community as we produce more than we need. This will replace imported compost.  

In 2009 we installed a 70 kWp solar PV system as a test facility at Soneva Fushi – at the time the biggest solar installation in the Maldives. We are expanding this with 600 kWp and combined with investments in energy efficiency solutions we expect to generate 30-40% of our electricity needs by solar power.

Soneva also aims to influence the tourism industry by pioneering the development of our own Soneva Carbon Calculator and environmental profit and loss tool in order to measure and further reduce the environmental impact of our operations and supply chain.

Soneva_Fushi_villas_living_IN_the_environment

Protecting the ocean
Soneva Fushi has always protected its own 50 ha island and 119 ha of house reef, and worked with five other resorts to secure recognition for Baa Atoll as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.  Our resident marine biologist has personally guides approximately 1,600 guests a year on snorkeling trips in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Bisophere Reserve to learn about the beautiful marine life and why it is important to protect it.

In May 2014, we ran a two week intensive programme to teach 44 Maldivian children and 17 mothers how to swim. Our aim is to teach children and parents living on an island surrounded by water to swim, and to gain a confidence that will keep them safe in the ocean and encourage them to be better protectors of the ocean.

This year we are working on expanding the Learn to Swim programme across the whole of Baa Atoll.

Oscars for sustainability in travel & tourism
We are very proud to have won the Tourism for Tomorrow Award 2015 in the Environment Category. It verifies that our efforts are recognized at the highest level globally.

This is the second time we have won the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. In 2008 we won the Global Tourism Business category of the Tourism for Tomorrow under the trade name Six Senses. Since selling the Six Senses brand in 2012, we have reverted to our original name Soneva.

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