Today, we celebrate World Tourism Day in the knowledge that this year has seen some strident moves by the hospitality industry to address sustainability issues.
Our experience at Green Tourism has been incredibly positive over the past 12 months particularly, although we have witnessed many landmark moments since we began our work.
What is clear now on this day of focus for the industry is that people whose livelihoods come from the hospitality sector of the services industries are having an important, significant and long-term impact on environmental change.
There is no doubt in my mind that hospitality businesses are a leading part of a gentle revolution and when you think about it, that’s very understandable. After all, every hotel is a business that is embedded in the local community and environment. How it acts has a deep and lasting effect on people and place.
This is one reason why World Tourism Day should be an occasion for celebration as well as pause for reflection and planning.
I have seen many hotels and bed & breakfasts start to take a leading role in addressing the need to cut carbon emissions, reduce waste and manage better the use of pollutants. In doing so, they have become green pathfinders for all sorts of businesses and local people.
They have also given back through eco-programmes that are as far from superficial “greenwashing” as you can get.
This includes better management of water consumption, which is a key part of World Tourism Day awareness-raising efforts. Agile thinking can really make a difference in this crucial area. For example, Jurys Inn hotel group a few years ago shadowed their housekeepers in the morning to see how many times they flushed the toilet when they cleaned the en-suites – and they found it wad 4-5 times for each toilet – so they introduced a one flush policy and overnight saved the company over £85,000 per year in water costs.
And at Green Tourism, we have also been advising a range of hospitality businesses in the UK on ways to manage water better – including the benefits of “own-bottled” water. Initial costs can be recouped easily within two years but the return on investment goes way beyond simple effect on profits – reducing environmental costs of bottled water production and distribution as well as drastically cutting plastic container waste, for example.
Hotels and B&Bs can go further, by making a donation to green charities such as WaterAid for every bottle sold. It feels good to give something back, and this type of action is not ignored by guests – they spread the positive word about your property and are also more minded to return.
Water management is one of our criteria for Green Tourism accreditation. To win the badge takes effort and considerable attention to detail. This includes elements such as local procurement/purchasing strategy, recycling, greener supply chain management, customer and staff travel.
You can find out more on the Green Tourism website where you can see some of the work we do and read case studies the successes we’ve delivered.
On a day when, as SaveMoneyCutCarbon has advised, the Pope has asked hotels to take more care of their local environments and ‘think community’, we should celebrate the green advances made during the past decade in the hospitality sector.
These positive changes are much more than just asking guests to re-use their towels. They embrace more eco-friendly laundry processes, carbon-cutting LED lighting, eco-showers and tap aerators, better HVAC controls and more efficient boiler management.
Certainly there is much more to achieve but we are witnessing rapid, positive change in ideas and actions in the tourism sector. How quickly we achieve our goals is in our hands.