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WORKSHOP #4: EREK held its fourth workshop in Sofia - Resource Efficiency in the Tourism Sector

Posted on: 13.09.2018
by The EREK team

The 4th workshop of EREK, titled “Resource efficiency in the tourism sector”, was hosted by the State ministry of Environment and Water, in Sofia, Bulgaria on September 13, 2018.

Co-organised by BAMEE (Bulgarian Association of Municipal Environment Experts) and Technopolis Group, the event attracted more than 40 participants from two State ministries (Ministry of Environment and Water, and Ministry of Tourism), public bodies at national, regional and local levels, members from academia, industry associations, and business support organisations.

The workshop focused on the tourism sector: highly relevant to the Bulgarian economy and which would undoubtedly benefit from resource efficiency opportunities.

 

Key Take-Aways

Participants concluded that implementation of resource efficiency and cleaner production processes in hotels significantly depends on the owner's motivation, a personal commitment which may be born out of these five key triggers:

Awareness – Trigger needs to happen through communication, peer pressure from competitors, information by chambers of commerce, and government policy incentives.

Vision – Businesses need to recognise the issue as it now becomes an economic and political priority, as well as a heightened customer demand. A clear vision will trigger the change in mindset and lead to the emotional and financial investment needed.

Economic decision – There is a need for more cost-benefit analyses and information on appropriate solutions, the shortest payback, how to advertise to customers, etc.

Continuous involvement – The process of improving resource efficiency and management is continuous and requires step by step implementation of measures and communication to the local community and guests.

Get help – SMEs need consultancy and expert support to incorporate the resource efficiency and cleaner production practices into their operational management.

 

Highlights of the day

“The tourism sector has a huge scope of potential resource efficiency improvements. Implementing good practices and measures can minimise adverse environmental impacts, bring a competitive advantage and help with cost minimisations for a company’s operations. Businesses with vision and foresight get ahead of the curve, resource efficiency will help kickstart that journey” – Katya Parvanova, Chief expert, Directorate “Programmes and projects in tourism”, Ministry of Tourism, Bulgaria.

Both the challenges and opportunities from past and current business cases were presented. An entire session was dedicated to explaining how businesses can be supported in their quest to becoming more resource efficient. This included concrete examples from Bulgarian hotels which provided an overview of the results generated by implementing cleaner production programmes.

The workshop used an interactive format to showcase the benefits of embracing resource efficient solutions for business competitiveness and improved environmental management within the tourism sector. Attendees were shown the practical steps of how to achieve resource and financial savings, discover national and EU programmes along with instruments for resource efficiency i.e. EMAS, EU Ecolabel. Pierre Gaudillat from the Joint Research Centre of the European Union presented the Best Environmental Management Practices for the Tourism sector: A toolkit for Resource Efficiency and Competitiveness.

 

Picture: Nadezhda Hristova from the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and Waters presenting the eco-label experience in Bulgaria

 

 

“Introduction of energy saving light bulbs in guest rooms and hallways can help reduce the electricity costs up to 80%. Reducing the room temperature or installing built-in occupancy sensors help reduce heating and cooling needs. Maintenance is also important: regularly serviced boilers can save up to 10% of annual heating costs”  explained an environmental specialist from BAMEE, Nikolay Sidjimov

 

 

 

The meeting of various actors via brokerage and matching was deemed a positive outcome of the meeting. “Collaboration is a key principle of EREK and it is encouraged so as to create synergies and partnerships for achieving substantial resource efficiency improvements” said Mariana Assenova, Chairperson of the Steering Committee, Social and Environmental Responsibility Centre (SERC), Bulgaria.

 

 

 

The workshop concluded with further discussions on boosting resource efficiency via policy instruments, and support mechanisms, simultaneously debating new priorities for the EREK network.

The Sofia Tourism Workshop is part of a wider series of workshops that the EREK Network has planned for coming months. Don’t forget to regularly check our event or workshop pages to learn more about them or subscribe to our newsletter below. We might be soon visiting a place near you!