Cambodian Resort Wins Gold in ‘Green Growth’ Certification

Gold Certification for Kep province's Knai Bang Chatt sets benchmark for sustainability in Cambodia’s surging coastal tourism industry

Online PR News – 30-September-2016 – Phnom Penh Cambodia – Environmentalists, tourism officials and industry executives are praising Kep province’s boutique gem Knai Bang Chatt for becoming the first hotel in Cambodia to achieve Gold certification in the Green Growth 2050 initiative following an audit by compliance, sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) experts in August.

The independent audit conducted by an Australian team covered more than 400 CSR and sustainability indicators, ranging from Health and Safety and Human Rights to Environmental Stewardship and Social and Community Development.

“This is an incredible achievement,” said Carrol Sahaidak-Beaver, executive director of the Cambodia Hotels Association. “We applaud their commitment not only to the environment, but to being a leader in the standard of our hotels,” she explained.

“The achievement of the team at Knai Bang Chat is nothing short of amazing,” said Wayne McKinnon, CEO of the Australian-Belgian consultancy that developed the certification system. It incorporates International Best Practices as well as United Nations and ILO treaties and guidelines into a dynamic rating system based on annual audits. “Their willingness to embrace new ideas, implement new strategies and establish an ongoing framework of operational best practices has resulted in their Gold Certification to the Green Growth 2050 Global Standard. A truly outstanding effort,” Mr. McKinnon said.

Ms. Sahaidak-Beaver said the Gold certification could have a ripple effect on Cambodia’s tourism industry. The certification reflects “the commitment by the owner and his team on not only respecting the environment but the sustainability of Cambodia as ‘the destination’,” she explained.

Jef Moons, founder and CEO of Knai Bang Chatt and its adjacent Sailing Club, said that the nearly $100,000 invested in the resort to prepare for the audit demonstrated the long-term commitment by staff and management to elevate Cambodia’s tourism industry. It also shows their eagerness to encourage the rising commitment to sustainability and environmental awareness in an industry that has become a pillar of Cambodia’s economy over the past decade. Tourism contributed about 30 percent in total to the Kingdom’s GDP last year, according to a 2015 assessment by The World Travel and Tourism Council.

“We are definitely seeing rising awareness about the need to ensure employee welfare, protect the environment and link local communities to our supply chain to alleviate poverty and generate incomes,” Mr. Moons said.

John Black, general manager of the boutique hotel, explained that Green Growth 2050 certification was necessary to turn these goals into ongoing practices. “The creation of a Green Team, educating management and staff as well as our supply chain were crucial steps taken before the audit by international experts. With this certification we have demonstrated that even a resort in an out of the way location can meet international standards for sustainability and green growth. What is most crucial is having a clearly defined set of indicators that we can constantly monitor our efforts against,” Mr. Black said.

Mr. Black said that the Green Growth 2050 certification program was selected because it is the most rigorous and dynamic sustainability framework for the tourism and travel industry. “Our Gold certification is not a static achievement. We will be audited annually by independent experts and we will continue to strive for greater sustainability at our resort and throughout our entire supply chain,” he said.

Mr. Moons noted that Cambodia’s tourism industry was entering a new stage of sophistication. “A consensus is emerging among industry executives and officials at all levels of the government that the future of Cambodia’s tourism must be environmentally friendly. We believe this is a necessity not an option,” he explained.

About Knai Bang Chatt

Knai Bang Chatt is a boutique luxury resort located in Kep province, on Cambodia's southern coastline that is swiftly gaining a reputation for barefoot luxury as it rejuvenates guests as well as local communities.

In the 1960s the area was known as Cambodia’s Riviera, where royalty and stars mingled in private villas overlooking the Gulf of Thailand against a backdrop of lush, forested mountains. In 2003, Knai Bang Chatt became the first luxury resort to reopen in the province, with the goal of reviving its culture and economy. The resort has since invested more than $1 million in village-based development projects in the province and now employs more than 80 staff, including those who work at its adjacent Sailing Club.

Knai Bang Chatt consists of four renovated villas built in the 1970s by protégés of the father of New Khmer Architecture, Vann Molyvann, a student of the world famous architect Le Corbusier. The villas are astonishing historical landmarks that guests can now experience as private residences and suites.

About Green Growth 2050

This certification program is fast becoming the leading standard for Green Growth by linking sustainable tourism and corporate social responsibility to achieve and adhere to Green Growth. It was developed by Belgium-based and Australia-based VisionCSR.

What makes it distinct is the more than 400 indicators used to measure compliance and tailored software that allows venues to track progress and identify shortcomings on each of these indicators. These include: the UN Global Compact, the UNEP Green Economy Principles, UN Declaration of Human Rights, Code against the Sexual Exploitation of Children, and the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria for Hotels and Tour Operators. Annual audits are conducted to gauge compliance with the indicators, which cover:
• Sustainability Management
• Legal Compliance
• Labor Practices
• Health & Safety
• Human Rights
• Sustainability Design & Construction of Buildings & Infrastructure
• Sustainable Operations – Best Practice
• Bribery & Corruption
• Energy, Water, Waste & CO2
• Environmental Stewardship – Conserving Resources
• Environmental Stewardship – Reducing Pollution
• Environmental Stewardship – Conserving Biodiversity
• Social & Community Development