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Conscious hospitality: The need of the hour in the hotel industry

Tuesday, July 12, 2022, 14:00 Hrs  [IST]

By Gaurav Pokhriyal, Executive Vice President - Human Resources, IHCL


It’s known that the pandemic delivered a mighty blow to travel and hospitality players as countries went into prolonged lockdowns. As the global health crisis gradually eased, the industry began its long journey to complete recovery. Today, most players have revived their business, with people beginning to travel once again, albeit differently compared to the pre-pandemic times. However, while one threat has eased, another one remains.
 
Over the past few years, even before the pandemic, the travel and hospitality industry has acknowledged tourism’s contribution to climate change. Several destinations across the world grapple with over tourism, and rising plastic, noise, and air pollution, even as alarm bells sound around the looming environmental crisis threat. In 2021, the global hospitality market size crossed a whopping USD 3952 billion, according to The Business Research Company.  While it is projected to continue growing exponentially, sustainability is the need of the hour.
 
But this isn’t to say that the industry isn’t doing anything about it. To minimise its role in global warming, hospitality players actively take steps, big and small, towards a more sustainable way of operating. However, to make a significant impact and stop the damage before it becomes irreversible, a conscious and mindful approach has to be on the priority list for hoteliers and other players in the travel and hospitality industry. Here’s why.
 
What does sustainability mean for hospitality?
 
Though hotels and the tourism & hospitality industry rely heavily on the environment and natural resources to sustain the business, the relationship between the two is quite complex. If we look at sustainability in hospitality, there are numerous areas where changes can be made.
 
Steps like replacing plastic bottles in hotel rooms and restaurants with glass, plastic cutlery with stainless steel/wooden, minimal packaging, following the 3 Rs – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, minimising food wastage, going paperless, conserving energy, and investing in green energy like wind or solar power will go a long way in helping hoteliers reduce their carbon footprint and operate sustainably. Further, hotels can also leverage online mediums like social media to communicate their sustainable practices and encourage consumers to follow suit.  
 
Fortunately for the environment, more and more consumers are inclined towards ecotourism, a concept that involves responsible travel and environmental conservation, making it easier for hospitality players to implement their eco-friendly initiatives with utmost cooperation from guests. In fact, according to Booking.com’s 2021 Sustainable Travel Report, 83% of global travellers think sustainable travel is vital, while 61% said the pandemic has made them want to adopt a conscious approach to travel. This heightened environmental awareness plays a key role in building a sustainable travel & hospitality industry.
 
Bottomline
 
Eco-friendly initiatives are being undertaken on a serious note globally, and individuals and businesses are supporting them passionately. Google recently launched numerous sustainability initiatives wherein, from September 2021, hotels that meet sustainability standards from independent organisations like Green Key or EarthCheck will earn Eco-certified badges that will be featured next to their name during a Google search.
 
We are at a crucial phase in the climate change scenario, and treading carefully is essential. Thankfully, eco-tourism and sustainability are no longer passing trends; rather, they have become the norm for most players. Priorities have shifted permanently, and the hotel industry is gradually moving towards achieving sustainability in all aspects as they actively try to protect the environment and reduce their carbon footprint while driving business. And with environmentally conscious consumers, sustainability not only equates to tackling global warming but also profitability and good business sense. Remember, concerted efforts will bear fruit.

 
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