Strength in numbers guides Sentosa down the path to sustainability
ITS resorts are world class. Its
attractions are hard to beat. Its overall appeal is undiminished.
But when Covid hit, Sentosa’s international
arrivals, which had previously accounted for 80% of all arrivals – slumped. It became
a locals-only island for Singaporeans.
It was then that the island’s tourism
leaders put their heads together and launched the destination in a new
sustainable direction, creating Singapore’s first carbon neutrality-driven
business alliance, the Sentosa Carbon Neutral Network (SCNN).
The 17-company network set out several
sustainability goals, including carbon neutrality by 2030.
Thien Kwee Eng, Sentosa Development Corporation’s (SDC) chief executive, said there was no better time to embark on a sustainability drive as the pandemic had drawn the island’s businesses together chasing a common goal.
“I feel we now have a more connected society,” she said.
Cooperation rather than competition is
taking Sentosa in a new direction which will embrace both the leisure and
corporate travel desire for environmentally friendly experiences.
The aim of the SCNN network is to drive Sentosa-wide sustainability solutions through the sharing of resources and expertise, while also leveraging economies of scale and a common network to introduce both large and small-scale initiatives.
“It’s such a new topic [sustainability] with new technologies and new regulations, so the network helps us to use our collective strengths. Acting individually has its limitations,” said Thien, who was speaking at WIT Experience Singapore 2021.
Part of Sentosa’s plan to reach
carbon-neutrality by 2030 is to harness more renewable energy sources,
including solar and tidal energy, and tapping unused sea and land space on the
island. There are also plans for waste-to-energy systems that use horticulture
waste to generate gas for electricity.
These efforts include the development of
green MICE offerings, sustainable events, as well as guidelines for reducing consumables
The SDC head concedes that one of the
challenges will be bringing consumers onboard with the new sustainability
goals, citing the example of a hotelier who faced complaints after withdrawing
drinking straws from use.
“The rules can’t be black and white,” she
says. “Even if you cut out straws by default, and provided them only on
request, this would still reduce disposables by a significant amount.”
New sustainability-themed tours will be
launched to help guests better understand the importance of sustainability. Heritage,
biodiversity, and nature tours in Sentosa and neighbouring islands will immerse
guests into the destination and its ‘green island’ goals.
Typical of these tours is The Barracks
Hotel heritage tour curated by heritage specialist, Jerome Lim, and guided by
army veterans who were once based at the former military barracks. They walk
tourists down memory lane, sharing their stories about the past and the hotel’s
place in the transformation of Sentosa as a world-class island resort.
Also, actively contributing to Sentosa’s
green goals is the Sentosa Golf Club, which has committed to become the world’s
first-ever carbon neutral golf club by 2022, while Brewerkz is launching four
destination-inspired carbon-neutral beers.
Sentosa will benchmark the island’s
offerings against international standards, such as that of the Global
Sustainable Tourism Council’s (GSTC). Sentosa targets to be certified by GSTC
as a sustainable destination by its Golden Jubilee Year in 2022.
Thien says it important to have global
sustainability certification, which offers both recognition and encouragement
for the future. “They give us a reference of where we stand and set us on a
path to continuous learning and improvement.
“We also know that increasingly people are placing
emphasis on sustainable travel certification when they search for travel
Thien says sustainable leisure offerings
will become increasingly important to guests, and that sustainability is
essential – from both an environmental and business perspective.
Such benchmarking efforts as provided by
GSTC will be supported by island policies and programmes that preserve and
enhance Sentosa’s natural and heritage assets against developmental and leisure
The 17 founding members, including SDC and
major businesses in Sentosa: Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa, Capella Hotel
Singapore, C Side (Bikini Bar, Coastes and Sand Bar), Far East Hospitality
Management Singapore, FOC Sentosa, Madame Tussauds Singapore, Mount Faber
Leisure, Ola Beach Club, Resorts World Sentosa, Rumours Beach Club, Sentosa
Golf Club, Scentopia, Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa, Siloso Beach Resort, Tanjong
Beach Club and W Singapore-Sentosa Cove.
These members account for more than 90% of the island’s estimated carbon profile.
• Featured image credit: Sentosa.com.sg