As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, renewable energy sources, energy and water savings, green procurement, local food, food waste reduction, sorting and recycling, hazardous chemicals-free business operations… There are many criteria that are entering the fast-growing trend of sustainable tourism, and they’re more or less applied worldwide.
Along with national governments and public institutions, sustainability has become the goal of every serious company that plans to increase its competitiveness in the coming period. In parallel with the introduction of sustainable solutions, more and more attention is being paid to branding sustainable products and services, which will bring them better recognition and market positioning, and many Croatian players have woken up and are very much involved in this race in addition to global enterprises.
Sustainable Croatian tourism branding could finally result in year-round work and less seasonal influences on the domestic economy.
”Eco green hotels” is the name of a new brand launched back in November by the National Association of Family and Small Hotels, with the aim of responding to the growing needs of modern travellers for environmentally friendly accommodation. This is a hotel segment that already meets sustainability goals in part because most facilities decide to work all year round.
Depending on the level of implementation of green and sustainable solutions, hotels will receive a silver, gold or platinum label, and the first step in this ambitious task is to educate more than 200 members of the association that has already started.
”After the training session, there will be a cycle of investments that will last at least two years, so Croatia could have the first eco-green family and small hotels as early as 2023. Green business has become a necessity not only because of our conscious guests’ demands for environmentally friendly accommodation, but for savings for hoteliers themselves. What is also extremely important is that in this way, we’ll be able to give our contribution to the decarbonisation of the planet,” pointed out Sime Klaric, President of the National Association of Family and Small Hotels.
Among large Croatian hotel companies, Valamar Riviera was the first to make a more serious investment in its first eco resort in beautiful Stari Grad on the Central Dalmatian island of Hvar, with the creation of a totally new brand – Nature resort. Nature resort is the new Valamar concept of a fully sustainable eco-resort positioned primarily for family holidays. The construction of the resort will be achieved by respecting the highest standards of green building, which includes using only environmentally friendly materials with minimal impact on the environment, the use of renewable energy sources and a high level of energy efficiency.
The Valamar Nature resort on the island of Hvar is the first tourist project that will use prefabricated buildings and modular construction designed according to Valamar accommodation quality standards. The concept is inspired by nature and sustainable design, meaning that the architecture of the resort will fit well into the natural environment of the island in terms of the the design of the buildings, while the interior design is being dealt with by signed by local designers and artists using local traditions, looks and materials.
Construction will be carried out in in two phases
Felled trees will be used in landscaping, and each felled tree will be replaced with newly planted ones. Great emphasis will be placed on the offer of local food and groceries produced right there on the island, while digitalisation will eliminate the use of paper throughout the hotel. The project is planned to be built in two phases throughout 2022 and 2023, and in order to realise all of these green initiatives to their absolute full potential and realise all aspects of sustainable resort development, there is a plan in place to apply for green EU funds for the project.
Helios Faros’ business development plan assumes investments in the total amount of around 800 million kuna in sustainable high value-added tourism that will have a positive impact on the economic growth of the island. By the year 2025, the reconstruction and construction of three hotels and resorts of categories 4 * and 5 * with a total capacity of 700 accommodation units is planned.
Quartz Inn Hotels, a new European hotel brand for independent sustainable hotels that recently presented itself at the WTM fair in London, is also seriously counting on Croatian facilities in its future portfolio, and their plan is to expand to at least 100 hotels across Europe. Quartz Inn Hotels Ltd was founded by Spaniard Ignacio Merino and Dutchman Alexander Zawadzki, who both have extensive experience in the hotel industry as well as in online travel agencies and travel startups under their belts. Sustainable Croatian tourism branding could be very possible with such an initiative taking hold in the country.
“We’re the first sustainable hotel brand for stand-alone hotels in Europe, and our goal is to connect sustainable accommodation from across all European countries, while preserving the authenticity of each facility. We focus on sustainability, we help hotels become more ”green” and in that way we’re working to create a more sustainable tourism industry. By joining our brand, hotels gain more visibility internationally, which leads to higher revenue and more direct bookings,” said Ignacio Merino when explaining the basic principles of the business idea created in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which came about partly as a result of the crisis itself.
“Independent hotels have been the hardest hit by the pandemic and they simply don’t have the same means as larger chains have at their disposal to try to overcome the situation. We talked to many of them and decided to form a community that will support them. Through our partners, we provide them with the latest technology to manage things for them, covering all commercial areas, such as OTA distribution, connectivity, marketing, online reputation, online signups, resales, booking and revenue management, to optimise their hotel prices and maximise their benefits,” he explained. In addition, they offer their members a free hotel academy for hoteliers and staff. In addition to hotels, guesthouses and holiday villas are also welcome.
They currently have dozens of contracts signed across Europe, and plan to conclude next year with at least 100 facilities within the chain. Their main goals are to reduce energy and water consumption and eliminate disposable plastic in rooms, while encouraging sustainable eating habits and contributing to the preservation of the local culture and economy.
Sustainable Croatian tourism branding could lead to a far better situation each and every year when it comes to arrivals from across the globe. Currently trapped by the ”sunshine and sea” label which expires after about three months annually despite multiple attempts to extend the tourist season and expand what the country can offer. The coronavirus pandemic might just be the reset button for sustainable Croatian tourism branding and lead to a far better way of doing things than simply sitting back, counting the overnight stays on the eVisitor platform and rubbing our hands.
For more, check out our travel section.