Branson backs calls for hospitality sector to bottle own water
A new social enterprise has today urged the hospitality and tourism industry to adopt a sustainable business model that collectively addresses the global issue of access to clean water.
Whole World Water, set to launch on World Water Day, March 22, is calling on spas, hotels, resorts and restaurants to filter, bottle and sell their own water, and contribute 10% of the proceeds towards the Whole World Water Fund.
Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, is an advisor to the Whole World Water enterprise.
"At Virgin, we believe business must be a force for good, using its influence and resources to help find solutions to some of the world's major issues.
"This model reduces shipping pollution, financial and environmental costs, and it's good for business," he said.
The United Nations has proclaimed 2013 the year of international water cooperation to raise awareness of the fact that nearly 1 billion people do not have access to safe and clean drinking water.
Whole World Water co-founder Jenifer Willig said: "Working together with the hospitality and tourism industry, we can see this issue solved within our lifetime."
The enterprise estimates that the sector can contribute around $1bn a year to eradicating clean water scarcity around the world.
The founding member of Whole World Water, Sonu Shivdasani noted that his resorts had proved the business model worked.
"Since 2008, Soneva Resorts, Residences and Spas have banned imported water in favour of bottling its own filtered water. Revenues were contributed to clean drinking water initiatives whose work has meant water access for over 600,000 people previously denied," he said.
Companies including Soneva, Virgin Hotels, Banyan Tree, Auberge du Soleil, Tao Restaurant Group, The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, Oberoi Hotels and Resorts, JetWing Hotels, and The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu have joined the campaign.