Marriott International is expanding its environmental work with a programme to support the water supply in China’s southwestern Sichuan province by protecting a watershed, which supplies 400 million people.
The company is investing US$500,000 in seed money over two years to support a vital water conservation programme, which will reduce erosion and sedimentation and improve water quality downstream.
“For us, it isn’t fluff, it’s really a piece of what we are. We need to leave the right footprint as we go along,” said Craig Smith, executive vice president, Asia-Pacific.
The company is working with global environmental organisation Conservation International on the programme called “Nobility of Nature”, which has four key elements.
It targets improving the water quality, preserve the forests to prevent erosion, help panda conservation by maintaining their habitat, and create alternative livelihood for farmers living in the area. Present practices, such as use of fertilisers and pesticides, cutting out trees and conversion of existing ecosystems to farming land will be replaced by more sustainable practices.
“Results will be measured on a quarterly basis,” said Smith.
In Pingwu County, the programme is expected to become self-sustaining in two years, and then the company plans to take it to another county, according to Dominic Sherry, regional vice-president, sales and marketing, Asia-Pacific.
“The regional government is extremely supportive. They see this as a major initiative, Sherry said.
The company also uses this programme to educate staff, to make them more environmentally conscious and more aware of the environmental work the company is doing. Sherry said staff of the China properties are extremely proud of this programme and understand the impact and importance of it.
The next step is to get the environmental message through to customers, which the company is doing through cards and leaflets placed in the rooms.
The company has been running a hotel-specific environmental programme for the past 30 years. Since the group is opening 60 hotels in China in 2010 alone, it is keen to get the environmental issues right in this important market.
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