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“It is an honour to succeed Ian Carter as Chairman of ITP. Responsible business must be an essential element of any business strategy today and tomorrow – we must care for our planet and our people. I look forward to continue to join forces with our peers and to keep sustainability high on the agenda of the international hotel industry”, said Wolfgang M. Neumann.
During Ian Carter’s tenure as Chairman of ITP, the organisation has gone from strength to strength in delivering practical programmes and resources to advance the industry’s responsible business agenda. ITP has 17 corporate members in one of the largest and fastest-growing industries in the world, currently representing 25,000 hotels in over 100 countries worldwide.
Commenting on his departure Ian Carter said: “In recent years, ITP has strengthened its position in a number of important ways. I have enjoyed supporting the team as they deliver practical solutions and a platform for the industry to collaborate on key issues such as youth unemployment, carbon emissions, water conservation and human trafficking over the last four years. ITP plays an increasingly fundamental role when it comes to advancing the responsible business agenda within the hotel industry, and Wolfgang M. Neumann is well placed to guide it in the next stage of its journey.”
Wolfgang M. Neumann has been part of the ITP Governing Council since 2013 when he became President & CEO of the Rezidor Hotel Group. Carlson Rezidor have been members of ITP for 5 years. Believing in the fundamental importance of responsible business, Wolfgang looks forward to leading ITP and its mission. Immediate priorities include implementing the new 5 year growth plan for the Youth Career Initiative and focusing on the key issues of carbon, water, labour standards and human trafficking.
Green Hotelier recently spoke with Wolfgang to find out more about what this new position means for him:
What are you looking forward to about being chairman of the International Tourism Partnership (ITP)?
ITP is a unique platform – bringing the leading players of one of the world’s biggest industries together. We are competitors, but at the same time all agree that sustainability is an overriding business issue that we need to tackle together and on a global level. I look very much forward to closely working with our peers to ensure responsible business remains high on our global agenda.
And what do you think the challenges will be for ITP over the next few years?
ITP will continue to play a “diplomat’s role” in aligning different companies, different cultures, different legal frameworks, etc. But all members have agreed on a set of common priorities which we want to address: carbon; water; youth employment; human trafficking; and labour standards. I am confident that ITP will be able to build on the successes of the past years and further drive and develop these key items.
How important is responsible business to Rezidor? And what drives your commitment to it?
Due to our Scandinavian roots, responsible business has always been at the core of Rezidor. We were one of the first international hotel groups to have a company-wide responsible business programme. Today, it is coupled with an industry-leading safety & security programme – and our work is widely recognized. Since 2010, we have been awarded as one of the world’s most ethical companies every year.
What responsible business initiatives are you personally most proud of at Carlson Rezidor?
I am a big fan of “Think Planet” – our energy savings initiative that was launched in 2012 and will reach a 25% energy consumption reduction in all our hotels across Europe, the Middle East and Africa by 2016. “Think Planet” is so successful that we decided to extend it to water stewardship; further driving our savings targets and setting specific goals for water-stressed areas like Africa and the Middle East where we are growing very fast.
What is the state of responsible business in the hotel industry at the moment? What are the key issues?
Water, as just mentioned, is certainly one of the key issues: water scarcity is currently regarded as a more pressing problem than climate change. It is estimated that by 2015, 1.8 billion people will be affected by it – and that at the same time water withdrawals in developing countries will increase by 50%. We need to care for the total water footprint of our business; this is a must on our global agenda. I also think that youth employment is a key issue for all of us. ITP successfully operates the Youth Career Initiative to tackle the world youth unemployment crisis – this is an excellent example we need to drive and develop further.
How do you hope that ITP will help to address these?
ITP raises awareness and brings the key players of the hospitality industry on one round table – to address issues, do brainstorming, share best practice, open access to information resources, build relationships and finally work together. The hotel business is a people and relationship business, and ITP reflects that: we cannot sit in our hotel or office and solve things on our own; we need to go out, talk to each other and action all together. It is like this that we can make a difference.
For more information about the International Tourism Partnership's key issues and how they work with hotels go to www.tourismpartnership.org