CEO Sustainable Hospitality series | Interview with Paul Zway, CEO of Exclusive Tents

As part of the our Sustainable Hospitality initiatives, the Luxury Sustainable Hotels International Association presents a leadership interview series where we invite CEOs and key executives to discuss crucial management qualities that drive successful sustainable transformation.

Today I have the pleasure of sharing this interesting talk with Paul Zway, founder of Exclusive Tents, an outstanding designer and manufacturer of tents based in South Africa.

Paul grew up in the city of Pretoria, South Africa, and spent a lot of his youth in the bush camping in tents and looking for and catching reptiles. His parents two car garage was converted into his bedroom with soon was filled up with a great variety of animals.

As Paul explains “all the snakes (around 200 of them) were in temperature-controlled enclosures but the owl, bush babies, bat eared fox, hedgehogs and jackal were free to roam or fly across the room. I also had an 8’ deep snake pit on the outside of the house that I built, mostly for the puff adders and boomslang (tree snake).

From high school graduation Paul went to college but, as he says, it was too much like school so he was back off into the bush doing game farm ranching and at the same time

studying Nature Conservation and Management via correspondence. It was not too long before he became a Game Ranger in the famed Kruger National Park and lived and worked on remote sections for 14 years.

Here Paul gave me a great short explanation of what Exclusive Tents means to him:

“Exclusive Tents is all about, not only the passion of working with tents but also the passion for the ability to harmoniously merge nature, wildlife and the environment into the living space of a tent with the least impact on the earth”.

What makes Exclusive Tents to be really Exclusive?

Exclusive Tents is a two-family business which focuses on hand crafting the best quality tents in the market with the longest longevity.

Emphasis is on constantly improving and innovating on our products and using steel frames with the utmost structural integrity for safety in wind and snow.

We are not corporate and enjoy long relationships with our customers.

We manufacture each order to our customers specifications and to meet whatever the climatic conditions are.

I honestly think both. Although many more changes and evolution are still necessary. The future is undoubtedly linked to the use of renewable energies to minimize carbon footprint.

How important is sustainability in tourism industry nowadays? might it be a fashion?

In some respects, sustainability has become a bit of a fad/fashion which is often tagged merely for optics and recognition but that being said, sustainability is the buzz word and is much spoken about in the industry. The definition broadly encompasses human, social, economic and environmental components of which tents are a smaller component of but play a big role in the low impact that they have on the land and how they can be integrated into the environment.

Sustainable components in the tourism industry is here to stay and is gaining more traction as the industry evolves.

Is it possible to be sustainable and profitable at the same time?

Yes, I believe it is possible to be sustainable and profitable, there are many examples of this

What are, in your opinion, the main barriers or challenges to get a really sustainable tourism industry?

Bureaucracy, lack of awareness, lack of local support, wrong economic priorities, inefficient use of resources. There can also be negative aspects related to sustainable tourism.

Would you recommend experts and colleagues at hotel and glamping industries to join LUSH?

Yes, most definitely. And Hector, as you say, “together we make the change”.

Thank you Paul, it´s been a great talk.

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