Between 29 November and 9 December 2011, Durban, South Africa will be hosting the 17th session of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework in Climate Change and the seventh Conference of Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, and several Southern Sun hotels have been selected as preferred accommodation providers. More than 25 000 delegates from 193 countries, drawn largely from governments, business and academia, are expected in Durban for the conference.
Whether or not more landmark policies to fight climate change will be agreed in Durban, COP17 is an opportunity for South Africa to showcase its efforts to address this global issue – and Southern Sun Hotel Group certainly has seized a leadership position with their commitment to integrating leading environmental practices and sustainability principles into their core business strategy, ensuring balance between economic, social and environmental needs.
“Environmentally sustainable tourism has consistently been a central business focus for Southern Sun and we embrace the opportunity to showcase our 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”, says Graham Wood, Managing Director, Southern Sun Hotels. An obvious choice for the eThekwini Municipality and Thompsons Africa, the official booking agent for the conference, The Beverly Hills Hotel, Southern Sun Elangeni, Southern Sun North Beach, Suncoast Hotel and Towers, Garden Court Marine Parade, Garden Court Umhlanga, Garden Court South Beach and the StayEasy hotel in Pietermaritzburg have all been chosen as preferred conference accommodation.
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.
Heritage is an independent, internationally recognised environmental certification programme. Developed using seven international environmental management systems and ISO 14000, the Heritage Environmental Rating Programme is one of the top three environmental management programmes in the tourism industry worldwide. It is recognised by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and is an integral part of the annual Fedhasa Imvelo Awards, which recognises and rewards sustainable and responsible tourism in Southern Africa.
Annually Heritage audits each Southern Sun property to ensure compliance with environmental standards and procedures.
The certification programme recognises three levels of environmental excellence:
• Silver classification is the entry level and properties that achieve this status have recognised that they have an impact on the environment and are actively working to reduce their footprint.
• Gold classification properties have established a formalised environmental management system and are actively managing their business through the application of policies and procedures designed to minimise their environmental impacts.
• Platinum classification is the premier level of recognition, reserved for those properties that have achieved world-class standards or environmental stewardship and sustainable business practice.
Southern Sun is the only Heritage certified hotel group in Southern Africa and has embraced the Heritage Environmental Rating Programme as a benchmark to measure the impact of their properties on the environment. Currently most Southern Sun hotels have received, or are in the process of receiving, gold certification. The Southern Sun Drakensberg Lifestyle Resort holds a platinum certification and has also won the Imvelo Award for Responsible Tourism in the “Best single resource management programme - energy management” category.
Striving to be the leaders in environmental sustainability in tourism, Southern Sun Hotels consistently implement various initiatives and management systems across their brands and properties.