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SHMILE-2 Support to hotels in Egypt: Hilton Alexandria Green Plaza

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17/01/2014


Most of Egypt’s 1400 hotels are along the Red Sea and Sinai and along the trail of historical hotspots by the Nile. This is where almost all Eco-labels in the past have been pursued to appeal to the taste and concern of environmentally-aware tourists, mostly coming from Europe and Russia. There are about 90 Ecolabelled hotels in Egypt today out of more than 1300 hotels yet non-certified throughout the country.

The region covered by SHMILE2 project in Egypt however, Alexandria and Matrouh governorates along the North Coast, is still at a very early stage in this respect; only one hotel has received an Ecolabel, and it one of the simpler labels as well. Nevertheless, a number of hotels are contemplating or in process of pursuing different types of green certificates. One of those hotels in process is Hilton Alexandria Green Plaza who has been a participant in the SHMILE2 project’s surveys and capacity building activities.
The hotel was a unique case since it already has rich programs of environmental activities and targets as part of the internal development throughout all Hilton Hotels. It was therefore an opportunity to showcase excellence in environmental performance in Alexandria and was selected to host two of the EU Ecolabel training programs of SHMILE2 for hotel staff and another for young consultants last spring; May 2013.

The encouraging feedback from participants was not only about the transfer of knowledge about the EU Ecolabel criteria and tools from Europe, but also the opportunity to share and exchange experience among the hotels of the same region who are facing the same conditions. Such a platform for peer-to-peer experience-sharing showed that a lot of progress is possible and feasible in this challenging region.

The field visit throughout the facilities of Hilton Alexandria Green Plaza was also an enriching experience for all participants, as were the earlier field visits to Sofitel Cecil Hotel, also among the most engaged SHMILE2 project participants. As are all participant hotels, they have been granted access to the carefully tailored SHMILE2 EU Ecolabel auditing and guidance tool provided online, which enhances the opportunities to exchange experiences in best practices, and is improving as more local content is added to the tool with time.

It still remains to be seen however, who will be the first Hotel in the region, or maybe in the Middle East, to be awarded the EU Ecolabel, but for sure, some bets are on this leading hotel.