PHUKET: PHIST 2019, Asia’s largest travel and tourism sustainability event, was hosted on September 23, as Southeast Asia’s hospitality industry came together in a spirit of collaboration to tackle the critical environmental issues facing resort destinations across the region.

A year on from the inaugural edition of PHIST, the event is catching fire. A record attendance of 1,000 delegates attended this year’s full-day event, which was held at Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa. PHIST is the brainchild of the Phuket Hotels Association, C9 Hotelworks and Greenview.

Dedicated to generating fresh ideas and fostering a spirit of cooperation, the action-packed forum included a series of expert panels and discussions covering a range of vital topics, including destination management, development, ocean health, over-tourism, hotel operations and community tourism. There was also a series of practical workshops for green champions, hotel developers and social enterprises and more, plus an exhibition area showcasing green solutions, allowing hoteliers to interact with eco-suppliers.

Speakers included local and international experts, including Raini Hamdi, Asia Editor, Skift; Sharry Sun, Global Head of Brand, Travelzoo; Jesper Palmqvist, STR’s Area Director for Asia Pacific; Ang Choo Pin, Expedia’s Senior Director of Government & Corporate Affairs; Guy Heywood, Chief Operating Officer, Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas; and Franck Droin, Hotel Manager, Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok.

This year’s PHIST also celebrated the launch of the Great Big Green Hotel Guide, an important collaboration between the 74 members of the Phuket Hotels Association. Featuring real-life examples of environmental best practices and case studies, this guide will serve as a practical user manual for hotels in resort destinations all across Asia. The guide can be downloaded here: www.phukethotelsassociation.com/great-big-green-hotel-guide.

“PHIST is becoming one of the most important events on the tourism calendar. Climate change, plastic pollution, environmental degradation; these are issues that affect us all, and they are felt even more profoundly in island communities like Phuket,” said Anthony Lark, President of the Phuket Hotels Association. “The only way to tackle these problems is through a collective approach; by working together we can make a difference. The release of the Great Big Green Hotel Guide is one of the ways the industry is crafting long-term, workable solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.”

“Global tourism is growing at an unprecedented pace, and this is putting unprecedented pressure on resources, communities and the environment. At Six Senses, we’ve pushing the environmental agenda for many years, but it’s fantastic to see the hotel industry now taking a proactive approach to these critical issues. We all want the world to visit and experience our beautiful region, but something needs to change. By joining PHIST 2019, we want to create a viable future for Southeast Asia’s tourism industry,” added Guy Heywood, Chief Operating Officer at Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas.

PHIST has already shown that it can make a real difference; at last year’s inaugural edition, Phuket Hotels Association’s 74 member hotels agreed to remove plastic water bottles from their properties. In the 12 months since this pledge was made, member hotels experienced a 51% reduction, which equates to over 4.4 million bottles not ending up in landfill sites, or worse, the ocean.

PHIST 2019 also aimed to inspire the next generation, with a series of children’s workshops and activities. The forum featured the final of Green Beat 60, a film-making contest that invited eco-warriors of all ages to have their say on critical issues, won by Thai rappers Rattanachot Srikhongmuang and Kanthep Srikhongmuang for “Refill Not Landfill”. Watch the cool clip here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMUV1p3Advw.

By engaging with all stakeholders and members of society, from proven industry experts to the brightest young minds, PHIST 2019 is taking a blue sky approach to the sustainability agenda. In doing so, it will strive to ensure a bright future for many generations to come.