Former Jumeirah Group CEO calls for industry to create a film highlighting environmentalism in hospitality

Published: 24 September 2020 - 4:45 a.m.
By: Josh Corder
Former Jumeirah Group CEO Gerald Lawless used his opening keynote speech at The GM Debate powered by Hotelier Middle East to deliver an address on the monumental importance of sustainability and environmentalism in the sector.

Lawless, who has decades of expertise under his belt, called for the hospitality industry to rally together to create a “highly-professional TV documentary presented by a narrator such as David Attenborough” to show the world the true scope of environmentalism and sustainability present in hospitality.

During his 15-minute speech, he said: “We are aware of the benefits of travel and tourism to the global economy and to society. We know that our sector is a force for good. But as an industry we must continue to address where we stand on environmental issues. We must communicate our position more effectively.”

For Lawless, what is paramount is building a better relationship and reputation with the staunch critics of far-flung travel and tourism. He explained: “First of all let’s engage with the opponents of travel and tourism especially with regards to the environment and climate change.”

“Our industry PR and communications needs to address these issues and to clearly explain our position. For example, where exactly does aviation rank as a source of Co2 emissions? Who are the biggest polluters? Construction?  If so is the construction of hotels a problem?”

He covered how travel, tourism and hospitality provides key income to developing countries, in turn boosting funds for education, while also generating jobs and injecting cash at all levels to these societies. He also touched on how this income drives down issues such as human trafficking in developing nations. It is the positive impacts such as these, Lawless wished lobbyists against travel were more aware of.

His documentary idea would consider benefits such as these, while also looking into the drawbacks behind travel and tourism. Lawless said: “This documentary would explore the challenges and the benefits of tourism and travel in a balanced and objective way. It should be funded by the industry private sector, perhaps under the auspices of the WTTC.”

“We must engage with the environmentalists and the climate change activists,” he added.

He concluded: “The bottom line on this issue is that we cannot continue to use up the planet’s resources in a non-renewable way. Sooner or later this planet as it is today will run out of everything. So whether or not you believe in climate change, within our industry we need to address the multiple issues for our own survival. Sustainability is after all good housekeeping!”

Don’t miss the second day of The GM Debate 2020 today. At 1:05pm UAE time we will have our keynote speech from CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), Raki Phillips.

Register for the event here.

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