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InterContinental Hotels says it will stop serving sharks fin after sustained PR pressure

In a major PR move after sustained pressure from environmental groups, InterContinental Hotels Group has said that it is to remove sharks fin from the menus all of its outlets globally – but it is still serving the controversial dish in a “handful” of restaurants as the policy is rolled out.

Sharks fin on the menu at a Intercontinental restaurant in Vietam

Sharks fin on the menu at an InterContinental Hotel restaurant in Vietnam

IHG has been one of the few major hotel groups in Asia to keep serving sharks fin, while major competitors have dropped it in response to pressure from environmental groups and an increasingly disapproving customer base.

In August last year, IHG told Mumbrella that is was in the “final stages” of reviewing its policy on serving sharks fin, a traditional dish for Chinese banquets and weddings, but was vague on when the review would be concluded.

Now, the company says that it has taken the decision to stop serving shark fin “across our global estate of 4,800 owned, managed and franchised hotels.”

However, the chain says that while “the vast majority of hotels now adhere to this directive, we are in the final stages of implementing the change in a handful of properties.”

IHG added that it had developed a global sustainable seafood policy “in partnership with third party experts”, which would be published in due course.

Peninsula Hotels, owned by Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels, was the first major hotel brand in Asia to remove sharks fin from their menus in 2011, with a ban taking effect on 1 January 2012. Shangri-La was next, and other major players followed, including Hilton Worldwide, Starwood and Ritz-Carlton. The likes of Fullerton Hotel, W Hotel, The Westin, Fairmont and Conrad in Singapore have done the same.

Consumer opinion has shifted against the sharks fin industry in recent years. A survey conducted by WildAid late last year found that 85 per cent of Chinese consumers said they had given up sharks fin soup in the last three years. Respondents said that environmental awareness such as a campaign fronted by NBA basketball star Yao Ming played a big role in persuading them to stop eating it.

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