Hilton has reacted to Tourism Concern’s views that the global hotel chain is short changing local communities and destroying habitats despite its claims to be clean and green. (Read more here >>)Statement issued by Hilton’s Chief Executive, Ian Carter regarding Tourism Concern’s views:
I write to you regarding the press release from Tourism Concern, which makes false and deflamatary accusations against Hilton International. I also understand that you are intending on mentioning Hilton at an event being staged in Singapore today and tomorrow.
I am extremely disappointed with the nature of this sensationalist campaign as I would be very happy to discuss any concerns or questions directly. I understand that our local team in the Maldives have previously been in touch with Tourism Concern relating to continual false accusations on your website.
Hilton International is very proud of its record and achievements in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and this is an area, which we take very seriously throughout the business. We recognise the importance of environmental protection and continuously endeavour toward environmental sustainability. In doing so, we consider the effects our business may have on the environment and ensure we do everything possible to comply with environmental legislation and codes of practice issued by the countries in which we operate. In addition, we believe in educating our team members on environmental issues and recently implemented a global environmental programme throughout Hilton International to increase awareness through environmental training.
Because of our focus on contributing toward a better society, Hilton has been recognised by both the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and the FTSE4Good index for our CSR standards and best practices across a range of economic, social, and environmental indicators.
With this level of focus and commitment, you will understand why I am extremely disappointed by today’s comments from Tourism Concern.
I would like to deal with each hotel in detail:
Firstly, the Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa.
We have a close, ongoing working relationship with the people living on Mandhoo Island. For example, the resort offered immediate assistance to the islanders after the tsunami, both in the form of their immediate requirements such as food, clothing and medicines and also with longer-term support with the delivery of building supplies and workmen to assist in rebuilding the island. The resort currently sponsors a teacher on the island.
Photographs claiming to be of plants being removed from Mandhoo island are actually of coco palms that had come from the Hilton resort island of Rangalifinolhu and had been moved to Mandhoo for 12 months during the renovation of Rangalifinolhu. These trees were replaced back on Rangalifinolhu in early 2005.
The flora on the re-opened Rangalifinolhu island came from specially constructed nurseries in Sri Lanka built on Mandhoo island for that purpose as well as from nurseries in Sri Lanka and southern India.
We categorically deny removing local trees, plants and topsoil form Mandhoo island. The nurseries alongside carpentry workshops and storage on Mandhoo continue to give employment and a source of income to the islanders.
Turning now to the Conrad Bimini resort.
Hilton International has a management agreement with RAV Bahamas Limited, a subsidiary of the Capo Group, to mange this hotel. The resort is one component of an overall multi-use complex developed by RAB Bahamas Limited; Hilton’s involvement is solely the management of the Conrad Bimini resort.
The management contract with RAV Bahamas limited was agreed upon learning that the overall project comprised the following:
1) Compliance with all government regulations: The Bimini Bay development received full approval from both the previous and current Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. The Government agreed that the proposed development would be in the best interest of The Bahamas and the Islands of Bimini.
2) Completion of an environmental impact study: The development has undergone a range of environmental impact studies, prepared in accordance with applicable government guidelines, and the most recent study developed in close coordination with The Bahamas Environment, Science, and Technology Commission (BEST). The studies provided recommendations to be implemented by the developer, such as monitoring plans including mitigation measures, erosion control measures, and reporting to the BEST Commission. The BEST Commission has stated that RAV Bahamas Limited complies with all protocols set and cooperates with all ongoing inquiries and directions on environmental sustainability practices. Additionally, the project originally proposed has been scaled back significantly including over a 50% reduction in the number of overall units.
3) Community involvement: The Bimini Town Counsel has been fully aware of the development and involved in its progress. The Chairman of the Bimini Town Counsel attended a trip to research best practices for the development. Also, the developer has attended meetings with all Counsel members, island pastors, church ministers, and community leaders, to disclose project plans and progress.
4) Contribution to social improvement: The Capo Group is providing a significant social contribution to the residents of Bimini, including employment opportunities, technical skills training, construction of a primary school for 250 children, among others.
RAV Bahamas Limited has assured us that they are committed to maintaining the beauty of Bimini, protecting the environment, and improving the society.
I trust that this detailed explanation and response will help to clarify our position. As previously stated, we are proud or our record and achievements in the area of environmental management and sustainability and will work hard to defend and explain these.
It would be more productive and positive if we could discuss our track record and commitment directly and openly.