Alexandre (Alex) Tsuk, founder and Chief Experience Officer at BookGreener.com, in this interview shares his thoughts on the current state of tourism sustainability in Bali and Asia. He also reflects on his challenges and achievements as founder and CEO of BookGreener, and presents his new initiative, RefillMyBottle.
- When Alex first heard about sustainability and how his views on the topic have changed since then;
- How BookGreener evolved from a hotel booking site into an active community of 50 hotels in Bali;
- 5 key lessons he has learned from developing BookGreener.com;
- Current trends linked to hotels and sustainability in Asia;
- How the RefillMyBottle initiative helps travelers reduce and avoid plastic waste.
Alex, do you remember the first time you heard about sustainability linked to hotels (or tourism) – and your thoughts back then?
I was running a group of hotels and restaurants in Laos back in 2010 and got asked by an International Aid Organization to speak in front of a group of small Burmese operators on how to promote their properties online. I researched and realized how hard it was for them to stand out from the competition and how much work was needed to meet the expectations of modern travelers. I also realized that there was no dedicated platform to promote responsible tourism properties.
Each ecolabel is promoting their members, but many places are too small, cannot afford or simply do not believe in labels. I thought it would be very useful for travelers wanting to stay green to have one website listing them all, based on a self-assessment.
That’s when the seed got planted.
How has your view on tourism and sustainability changed since then?
For 4 years I developed BookGreener 1.0 – we identified about 4,500 green resorts, listing their eco practices. Unfortunately, the website never got ENOUGH traction, sustainability not being a strong criterion when booking accommodation.
People will always choose where to stay based on price, location and facilities first. As I notice over and over, sustainability is not a criterion to select a property, but it is often the main reason why people return there.
With the emergence of Airbnb and many other websites promoting the sense of place as a main draw to a destination, I can see a shift in the expectations of travelers. They are looking for transformative experiences, rejuvenation. And eco properties are usually one step ahead of the competition in this field.
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