"I hope that in a post-COVID-19 era, we will become more sensitive to nature's innovations"

There’s no two doubts that our biodiversity is in danger as global warming is taking precedence. A few from our hospitality industry have a passion for sustainability and a prominent figure is Sonu Shivdasani, Founder and CEO, Soneva. A British with Indian roots is considered to be a pioneer in environmentally friendly resorts that also remain faithful to luxury. His article focuses on COVID – 19 & Environmental issues – Impact on Hospitality Industry.

I have been fortunate enough to experience many crises during my lifetime. My choice of the word ‘fortunate’ is deliberate. The Chinese word for crisis is two characters: ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’. According to Lao Tzu, the Chinese writer and philosopher, ‘good fortune has its roots in disaster.’ Over the years, I have come to understand these words and have realised that these crises are opportunities to learn, grow and develop. I have realised that if we consider a crisis in a positive way, we can always find an opportunity to learn and develop and make our lives more enriching as a result.

Current crisis has allowed many people the opportunity to pause and rethink their values and importantly their priorities. I believe that only through introspection can we shape a better, new reality post-Covid-19. In a post-COVID-19 world, consumers will be more conscious of the impact that they will have on both nature and the communities which they visit. I have to specifically mention air travel, which, while it is a big part of an individual’s ecological footprint, is a very small contributor to greenhouse gases, and its contribution is less than the negative impact of the beef and dairy industry.

It is important to remember, while the current global health emergency will end, unfortunately, this hopeful scenario will not be the case with global warming. It is an ongoing situation which will affect each and every one of us. And it highlights our interconnectedness.

Climate experts believe that we are near a tipping point of no return. Some believe we have already passed it. We already have 400 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere. Even if we reduced our carbon emissions considerably and followed the targets established in Paris in 2016, we will still hit 500 parts per million. Even if we were to slam on the brakes and turn around, we would not be able to because nature itself would continue the global warming process as a result of feedback loops, such as methane escaping from below the Arctic and the Antarctic, less reflection from glaciers that have disappeared, warmer seas emitting CO2 rather than absorbing them and so on.

I hope that in a post-COVID-19 era, we will become more sensitive to nature’s innovations. We will try to work in harmony with nature rather than try to battle it. It’s my opinion that this terrible virus came about because we ignored nature’s laws and I believe that now the hospitality industry will focus more on a natural, unique experience that contributes to the environment. It is also encouraging to see that many of the major hotel companies have now started to take the path that Soneva did in 2008 and eliminate single-use plastic in their properties including, most importantly, plastic water bottles.

I suspect, that even though the second quarter of 2020 may be the period of the greatest economic decline in history; I think consumers will be prepared to spend that little bit extra for a unique experience as they will value the precious time with their families more now than ever.

As we recover and journey out of this crisis, we will reach a fork in the road. I do hope that we will clearly know where we want to go. The current global pandemic has highlighted how interconnected we are, and how important it is that as humans on planet earth, we break through our national boundaries and collaborate together to preserve life on earth as we know it.

If we do not change, and just go back to business as usual after this crisis, it will be a sad, lost opportunity. All the suffering that we have been through over these past months will have been for nothing. This pandemic will end but the important question is whether, the bond we have with the way we live and our daily reality has been sufficiently broken, and whether we can attach ourselves to a new reality and a new way of doing things; or if we will just go back to our old ways.


AsiaWorld-Expo deploys the world’s first “CLeanTech" disinfection installation

The global conference and exhibition (C&E) industry has been impacted massively by the COVID-19 outbreak, and Hong Kong is no exception. The postponement and cancellation of the many exhibitions and conventions imposes chain effects on a wide variety of businesses, spanning hotel, aviation, catering and tourism sectors. Following a series of epidemic prevention measures, AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE), one of the leading exhibition and convention centres in Asia, recently introduced the world’s first “CLeanTech" disinfection installation and advanced air purification technology. These high-performance disinfection initiatives at AWE set the trend for the industry as it prepares for eventual recovery.

“The Hong Kong SAR Government has announced a sum of HK$30 billion for the Anti-epidemic Fund. More than HK$1,000 million has been earmarked for the industry to reinvigorate Hong Kong’s reputation as an international premier C&E hub. AWE welcomes the measures and goes an extra mile to proactively engage with manufacturers specialising in biotechnology and disinfection applications. By thoroughly disinfecting the venue through scientifically-proved solutions, AWE safeguards the health of visitors and staff with products of high and long-lasting efficacy, and sets the example for industry fellows to provide safe and healthy environments when event activities eventually resume,” said Irene Chan, CEO, AsiaWorld-Expo Management Limited.

She further added, “In these challenging times, we are living up to our corporate social responsibilities by supporting the Government with the set-up of the temporary test centre and COVID-19 specimen collection facilities at AWE for inbound travellers from overseas. This eases the demand on hospitals for isolation wards. Once COVID-19 is under control, we will be fully ready to bring back large-scale exhibitions and exciting events in collaboration with our stakeholders.”

In partnership with a professional biotech and sanitising company, AWE is the first in the MICE industry to introduce “CLeanTech”, an innovative three-in-one disinfection installation combining a suite of technologies including BioEm Air Sanitising and Purifying technology, Aegis Intelligence and negative room pressure design. Subject to organisers’ needs and event scale, AWE plans to deploy such device at upcoming major trade exhibitions and conventions by then visitors will be admitted through the device prior entering to event halls. The device door will be opened automatically when the visitors passes the built-in temperature checking. After entering CLeanTech, it will help to sanitise outfits and carry-on items of visitors in just 12 seconds and keep them safe.

Specifically designed for Air Sanitisation and Purification, BioEm is a Natural Botanical Disinfection solution which is well-tested and known to be effective over a wide spectrum, and can kill a variety of viruses, including SARS(99.99%), H3N2(99.99%), H1N1(99.995%), and 100% bacteria*. The ingredients are natural and safe and can effectively kill indoor bacteria. Aegis Intelligence is remarkable for its physical puncture sterilisation and photocatalyst disinfection and is used to purify venue facilities such as on doors and door handles at major entrances, escalator handrails, washrooms and chairs in restaurant. It can eliminate potentially dangerous microbes on objects with a long durability of up to 12 months. These safeguards help protect our frontline staff and reduce the need for frequent manual work, while also reducing reliance on traditional sanitiser which is now in high demand worldwide.

In addition to the protection of visitors, AsiaWorld-Expo also cares for the health of its staff members and has gone to great lengths beyond the standard provision of masks and hand sanitiser. AsiaWorld-Expo plans to apply Aegis Intelligence to the uniforms of frontline staff, and is committed to comprehensively eliminating bacteria and thereby strengthening the protection and safety of employees.

Sammy Tsui, Founder and Managing Director, BioEm Air Sanitising Technology Company Limited, said, “In 2003, SARS was what pushed the founding team to establish BioEm. Based on scientific evidence, we successfully used a variety of natural plant extracts to develop BioEm Air Sanitising and Purifying Liquid. The product has passed the Long-term Inhalation Safely Test Certificate of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Human Skin Sensitive Test of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and was accredited in the 2009 Geneva International Innovation Invention Award. In addition, we are also the exclusive Greater China agent of Aegis Intelligence, a patented product that originated in Singapore which uses photocatalysis to sterilise surrounding objects, with lasting effects of up to 12 months following application. We are proud to cooperate with AsiaWorld-Expo to contribute to the local C&E industry and in protecting people generally. AsiaWorld-Expo is the first exhibition and event venue in the world to deploy “CLeanTech" disinfection installation; we appreciate the visionary move of AWE, which serves as a role model for Hong Kong’s C&E industry and the wider economy. The disinfection results seen from the use of these technologies at AsiaWorld-Expo can strengthen the confidence of exhibitors and visitors alike, contributing to the acceleration of the economic recovery of the Hong Kong C&E industry.”