With its panoramic, riverside views and perfectly Instagrammable interiors, on first appearances, the Good Hotel seems to be another of London’s many trendy boutiques.
However, the neon sign that reads: “Sleep Good, Do Good” on the floating hotel’s entrance wall is not just a backdrop to guests’ selfies — it signals the company’s mission as a social enterprise: to give back to the community as well as make a profit.
“Hotels are often internationally owned, and often times filled with people who are quite far removed from the local setting,” Good Hotel founder Marten Dresen said. “They mostly serve people who are not local to them.”
Ethical tourism is increasingly popular among socially conscious travelers who want to minimize their environmental footprint and boost local economies, rather than global hotel chains or cruise companies that repatriate their profits.
Growing numbers of people are on the move, with 1.4 billion international tourists last year, UN data showed — equal to the population of China and up 53 percent in a decade, as travel becomes cheaper and easier.
Yet, locals often bear the brunt of overcrowding in popular sites, pollution by cruise ships or soaring rents driven up by tourists paying more for accommodation via services from firms like Airbnb Inc.
London’s container-like Good Hotel started out as a detention center for illegal immigrants in the Netherlands before becoming a pop-up hotel in Amsterdam in 2015 and then towed up the River Thames by tug boats in 2016 to its new home.
Situated in East London’s Royal Docks, where ships unloaded their cargo a century ago, the 148-room Good Hotel invests all of its profits in training and education to create jobs and opportunities for locals in one of the city’s poorest areas.
“The more we grow as a business, the more we can reinvest,” said Dresen, who runs a similar Good Hotel in Antigua, a city in the highlands of Guatemala, with a scheme to train and hire single mothers and provide apprenticeships for local schools.
More than 80 London locals who struggled to find work have completed the Good Hotel’s four-month hospitality training scheme since 2016. Almost all are now in full-time jobs, including nine who work at the hotel.
Shaqueen Wilson set her sights on working at the Good Hotel after her mother completed the training course and got a job in the kitchen.
Two years on, Wilson is one of the senior bar staff, and managers have made sure her shifts do not clash with her mother’s so they can share the care of Wilson’s young daughter.
“The job means so much to me. I feel very comfortable here,” Wilson told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We are definitely on a good path and helping others.”
The funding for the training schemes is included in the Good Hotel’s operating costs, and the business donates any profits after that to its charity partner, Ninos de Guatemala.
It has given more than US$100,000 to the charity, which runs three schools for poor Guatemalan children and was founded by Dresen during a 2006 trip, but is no longer run by him.
London’s Good Hotel sources food and drink locally when possible, offers Newham residents a 20 percent discount at its bar and restaurant and occasionally hosts open bar events for them.
However, many guests do not know about its social business model until they check in, choosing to stay at the hotel because of its proximity to London City Airport and the ExCeL center, host to events such as the 2009 G20 summit and the London Boat Show.
Of the five guests the Thomson Reuters Foundation spoke to, just one knew it was a social enterprise before he booked.
As a frequent traveler for work, Brad Garrison, an information technology executive from Staffordshire in central England, said that he seeks out businesses like the Good Hotel when he travels.
It is not just locals that want a different kind of tourism — consumers are starting to demand it.
“Travelers are becoming increasingly aware of the fact that they are contributing to environmental issues by traveling around the world,” said Marloes de Vries, a travel analyst at British research firm, Mintel Group Ltd.
“Travelers are increasingly seeking novel activities that enable them to get ‘under the skin’ of the destination, or unusual experiences outside of the parameters of traditional mass tourism,” she said.
Planeterra Foundation is a Canadian charity that seeks to tap into this growing demand for purpose-driven travel.
Founded by adventure travel company G Adventures in 2003, Planeterra describes itself as an incubator, helping to fund and establish 75 social enterprises, including cultural experiences and souvenir makers, in 42 global tourist destinations.
In Peru’s Sacred Valley of the Incas it helped establish a social enterprise restaurant, Parwa, for groups to have a traditional meal as part of a tour of the famed ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.
Tourism to Machu Picchu over the past decade has surged to more than 1 million visitors last year, with a ticketing system in place to regulate the stream of tourists.
Aside from local souvenir sellers, porters and cooks who accompany tour groups, “very little money goes into the community from tourism,” Planeterra president Jamie Sweeting said.
The off-the-beaten-path restaurant — which employs 65 people, sources local products, sells souvenirs from local artisans and reinvests its profits into community projects — hosts about 16,000 tourists per year.
“The tourism industry, when done right, has the phenomenal ability to raise people up... It has made tremendous strides in getting more responsible, but there is a long way for us to go as an industry,” Sweeting added.
Polytronics Technology Corp (聚鼎科技) yesterday announced that it is buying Henkel AG’s thermal clad dielectric material (TCLAD) business division for US$26 million as the Taiwanese firm aims to improve its technology, product portfolio and revenue performance. Polytronics, headquartered in the Hsinchu Science Park (新竹科學園區), is a supplier of protection components and heat dissipation materials. The firm entered the metallic heat-dissipation substrate market in 2007 and developed a unique solventless production process. Its board of directors approved signing an agreement with Henkel to acquire the German chemical firm’s TCLAD division in the US. The purchase includes all assets and business interests, including equipment,
‘SENSITIVE MARKETS’: The previously unannounced project would involve the company handing over control of data to a third party to sidestep privacy concerns Google has abandoned plans to offer a major new cloud service in China and other politically sensitive countries due in part to concerns over geopolitical tensions and the COVID-19 pandemic, two employees familiar with the matter said, revealing the challenges for US tech giants to secure business in those markets. In May, the search giant shut down the initiative, known as “Isolated Region” and which sought to address nations’ desires to control data within their borders, the employees said. The action was considered a “massive strategy shift,” said one of the employees, who added that Isolated Region had involved hundreds of employees
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday posted monthly revenue that suggested second-quarter sales surpassed analysts’ estimates, underscoring how its technological lead is helping the chipmaker weather the COVID-19 pandemic and US sanctions on its second-biggest customer Huawei Technologies Co (華為). Apple Inc’s main iPhone chipmaker posted sales of NT$120.88 billion (US$4.08 billion) for last month, up 40.8 percent year-on-year and bringing its revenue for the second quarter to NT$310.7 billion, beating the NT$308.8 billion analysts expected on average. TSMC, a barometer for the industry thanks to its heft in the global supply chain, had previously lowered its revenue outlook for this
‘POSITIVE EFFECT’: Phison this year began shipping SSDs to Japan’s largest pachinko maker, which uses the components in its machines featuring high-resolution graphics Phison Electronics Corp (群聯電子), a designer of NAND flash memory controllers and modules, yesterday reported that revenue last quarter grew 11 percent from a year earlier on the back of new orders from Japan’s largest pachinko maker. Revenue last quarter expanded to NT$10.86 billion (US$366.82 million) from NT$9.79 billion a year earlier, Phison said. However, on a quarterly basis, revenue slumped 15.62 percent from NT$12.87 billion, it said. The Miaoli-based company said that it is benefiting from growing demand for solid-state drives (SSDs) used in devices beyond computers, which is stimulating growth for the NAND flash memory industry. Pachinko machines are one