The December opening of The Quay Hotel in Phnom Penh is expected to mark the beginning of a new trend in responsible travel: carbon-friendly tourism.
Born of the ugly tourist stereotype, responsible tourism appeals to many travelers' desire to leave a positive mark on the countries he or she visits. It includes strategies for creating positive interactions with local communities and reducing the negative effects of mass tourism.
Carbon-friendly tourism takes the idea of responsible travel to a global level.
Greenhouse gasses are components of the atmosphere that cause the greenhouse effect. They are the primary cause of global warming. While some of these gasses are produced naturally, the one most responsible for global warming -- carbon dioxide, or CO2 -- comes as a result of human activities. Nearly everything people do requires energy -- driving, flying, cooking, anything that requires electricity. All of those things rely on the burning of fossil fuels, which produces CO2.
While many of these activities cannot be eliminated, their carbon footprints can be reduced or offset. With this in mind, The Quay Hotel has committed to becoming carbon neutral. Along with its parent company, Food and Beverage Solutions, the hotel is also working on an industry-wide carbon-friendly scoring system.
These moves put The Quay at the forefront of global carbon-reduction efforts in the travel industry. When it opens later this year, The Quay intends to join the elite ranks of the world's few carbon-neutral hotels.
Food and Beverage Solutions also owns the FCC Cambodia and Pacharan. FABS management says its commitment to carbon-neutrality includes all of the company's outlets.
"As a business, we use an incredible amount of energy," says FCC Operations Director Anthony Alderson. "When we were designing the FCC Angkor, we took a very close look at that. For reasons of the environment, and also financial ones, we knew we had to do a better job."
It's a philosophy that Alderson urges other businesses to adopt, and FABS intends to take its carbon-neutral agenda global with its Green Leaves ranking system.
"We want others to get involved too," Alderson says. "We've all got to live on the same planet. If we can do something that helps fight global warming, that helps sustain the environment, I think we should."
Similar to the 5-stars system, the Green Leaves system scores businesses based on their carbon-friendly posture -- the better the posture, the more the green leaves. Working with partners across the industry, FABS and GERES are promoting the Green Leaves system around the world.
On a more individual level, FABS and GERES are building a network of environmentally friendly tourist options in Cambodia. Guests at The Quay will one day get the opportunity to plant their own tree, volunteer their time to carbon-friendly initiatives, or donate fuel-efficient stoves through GERES' award-winning Fuel-wood Savings Project.
"The FCC decided it was time to make a difference," says Alderson.