Serena Hotel’s Gold Level Eco-Certified properties, Lake Elmenteita Serena Camp and Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge won two awards under the “Social Impact” category during the 2019 Gala Dinner of the Eco-Warrior Awards. The Eco-Warrior Award is an annual fete hosted by Eco-Tourism Kenya to recognize tourism industry players’ that embrace sustainable business practices in their day-to-day operations.
This year marks the 14th edition of Eco-Warrior Awards themed, “Tourism, Jobs and the Green Economy – A Better Future for All” in line with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) global theme.
Grace Nderitu, CEO Eco-Tourism Kenya says, “The Eco-Warrior Awards are an indicator of the strides the industry has made in achieving sustainable tourism business practices. We understand that the protection of our natural resources, environment and people is a key factor in the growth of the industry.”
Lake Elmenteita Serena Camp (LESC) took the lead whilst Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge (ASSL) took the 1st Runners up position under the Social Impact category. Similar, to other Serena properties, these properties continue to give priority to the local communities living around its areas of operation so as to ensure economic independence with the end goal to better navigate uncertainty and thrive towards a sustainable livelihood in the future.
Mahmud Jan Mohamed, Managing Director of Serena Hotels says, “As pioneers and active players in the tourism industry, Serena Hotels is aware of the significant contribution it has in the economy of Kenya. Providing educational, entrepreneurial and health support is crucial not only for improving the quality of life for the communities, but also provides an enabling environment for sustainable business practices.”
Serena Hotels has endeavoured to bring best practices in social, cultural, environmental and economic development to an alluring yet fragile area in Kenya. The company’s sustainability programs respond to the needs of the environment, economy and the communities while aligning towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations Development Programme.
The win by LESC and ASSL was a consolidation of various sustainable initiatives in a more focused and sustainable manner under the “Adopt a School” concept. This concept introduced sustainable programs within neighbouring community schools with a focus on having a holistic positive impact on a child.
The various initiatives under the program that we believe act as a catalyst for positive economic, social and cultural change include;
- Tree planting with a focus on fruit and herb trees to enhance food security and nutrition – since 1991, ASSL has planted 1.6 million trees.
- Community & schools’ health outreach programs that include free consultations (over 600 consultations per annum) at our staff clinic and subsidized medication.
- Physical infrastructure and educational aids.
- Training opportunities such as internships to the local youth.
- Literacy/Reading for children program – 7 children libraries with about 2,482 beneficiaries per annum at both LESC and ASSL.
- Environmental conservation clubs talks, litter collection, lunch and game drives for high performing students, Christmas gifts and party.
- A unique initiative, carried out by LESC is the ‘Soap for Hope’ Project. This is where guest soap that would otherwise be discarded is recycled and sanitized into fresh soap bars with the aim of improving hygiene standards whilst repurposing soap that was headed for the landfill. To date 97 kg of guest soap has been recycled by Kiboko Primary (120 students).
Mr. Jan Mohamed, adds, “We believe Tourism is the strongest driver of prosperity and our initiatives have had a multiplier effect for poverty reduction in the areas we are located within. Every company would like employees who are prepared to adopt in the modern workplace, but this requires investing long before adulthood. Building an ecosystem that supports education in the early years is a critical place to begin the formation of a skilled workforce. By investing in the community activities and offering fresh opportunities, we can support the future prospects of our communities and country.”