Dubai-based AI-driven consumer insight & influence specialists, D/A, has shared data from their latest report on sustainability in the GCC in the lead up to the Future Hospitality Summit (FHS) taking place in Dubai at Madinat Jumeirah from 19-21 September 2022.
The report, which is based on the largest study on understanding sustainability in the GCC, covers consumer interest in sustainability, explores where Government is leading the discussions and charts the course for the future, and what brands are talking about when it comes to sustainability.
Data shows that there was an almost 100% increase in consumers interested in sustainability in 2021 compared to 2019, with a significant movement in 2020 coinciding with the peak of Covid-19. The profile of consumers interested in sustainability in the region is young, especially in Saudi Arabia where 50% are under the age of 30.
Faisal Khan, Vice President Strategy & Insights at D/A said, “With the data as context, for any customer-centric organisation the first opportunity is in acknowledging the relevance and size of the opportunity around sustainability. There is merit in establishing clear sustainability goals and meticulously evaluating how organisations take sustainability forward from here on, else they run the risk of comprising a genuine customer-connect.”
Social sustainability is a priority for GCC consumers, especially in KSA and Kuwait, but the environment is high on the agenda too with climate change being the fastest trending, aligned with government priorities in the region. Sustainability in the context of travel and hospitality has seen a consistent interest among consumers in the GCC with 50% of conversations focused on the role hotels can play in driving education and awareness around sustainability, and another 30% around environmental sustainability including climate change. But are brands doing enough?
There is a 40% year-on-year increase in the number of brands prioritising sustainability and brands are creating 105% more content on the topic year-on-year with environmental sustainability counting for 56.5% of the content created. However, brands under-leverage social sustainability and are not talking enough about climate-change related initiatives, demonstrating the opportunity to champion sustainability and build resonance and emotional connect with consumers in the GCC, especially as the average engagement on sustainability content is 50% higher than all posts brands create. Brands from some industries are more active than others with food & beverage being the most active, followed by retail and service brands -including travel- together making up 90% of sustainability posts in the GCC.
Leadership in the GCC is vocal on the role of sustainability to the future of the region. Government entities in the region are known for their initiatives to maintain a social balance and have been active to support countries and societies in need. What emerges as a priority beyond social sustainability is environmental sustainability, with a strong focus on climate change and pollution, driving 75% of conversations, followed by animal welfare including food safety and plant-based topics at 16%, and waste management ay 14%. The research shows a significant effort from Governments to drive awareness of sustainability.
Commenting on the data, Jonathan Worsley, Chairman of The Bench, said: “These insights are incredibly important for our industry as we look to the lead the change and chart the future of sustainable tourism and hospitality in the Middle East and beyond. Sustainability is at the core of this year’s programme at FHS, not just in the main-stage presentations and panel discussions but also in the event experiences we have created for delegates this year. We are also proud to host the finals of the 2022 Sustainable Hospitality Competition and look forward to hearing the ideas on innovation and sustainability from the world’s most talented student teams as the next generation of hoteliers.”
Hosted by Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts and co-organised by The Bench and MEED, FHS unites the investment communities of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC), Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) and African Hospitality Investment Forum (AHIF) under one roof under the theme Lead the Change. The action-packed three-day event will have numerous sessions focused on Sustainability, including:
Monday, 19 September
1:15pm – A panel discussion on embracing responsible consumerism followed by a conversation on the sustainable future of food delivery at 2:30pm.
4:30pm - The finals of the 2022 Sustainable Hospitality Challenge, a global competition for students to turn their ideas for innovation and sustainability into a reality, taking on the summit main stage.
Tuesday, 20 September
9:40am – Presentation by Path Thaker from The Economic Intelligence Unit titled ‘From War, ESG, Supply Chain Chaos to Food Security.’
2:15pm – A conversation on innovations that are driving the cost challenges of responsible procurement and sourcing followed by a presentation from Tim Peck at OBMI on sustainable design and a panel discussion on the rise of experiential eco centric hotels in the Middle East.
3:00pm – Keynote address from Alaa Abudiaum, CEO of Egis Middle East, on the future of green infrastructure and how it will transition to the future of hospitality, followed by a panel discussion that will address data-driven sustainable investments and regulations driving change.
4:00pm - Hospitality industry experts have the chance to address the FHS audience at a special Open Mic session, with five minutes to showcase how they are Leading the Change when it comes to innovation, sustainable practices and personal growth. This is followed by a conversation on accelerating sustainable development and operations in the hospitality sector.
Wednesday, 21 September
12:30pm- A discussion on how the hospitality industry can champion positive empowerment while being diverse and inclusive
In addition, delegates at FHS have the opportunity to participate in several event experiences that are focused on sustainability. These include a trip to Bustanica, the world’s largest vertical farm to find out how Dubai is reducing its reliance on food imports by creating a year-round growing environment for leafy greens, the Fish Farm, which focuses on marine fish breeding and hatchery to support the local aquaculture industry and reduce dependency on foreign imported fish, and the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project at the world-famous Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Al Naseem, the only scheme of its kind in the region, which has seen the release of 2,050 sea turtles back into Dubai’s waters since its launch in 2004.