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Sustainability goals… is the window of opportunity for hotels closing?

As we enter a decisive decade for sustainability, is the window of opportunity for hotels closing?

Following a decade of growth which brought jobs and fostered local and regional development, the tourism and hotel industry has repeatedly outperformed the global economy.

More than 3,000 new hotels opened their doors in 2020 alone. However, the industry is also responsible for nearly one-tenth of all carbon emissions globally, with the hotel sector accounting for almost a quarter of all tourism emissions.

Under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the hotel sector must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions per room per year by 66 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050 compared to 2010 (ITP, 2017). The technology required to decarbonize the industry is available now.

How do you see the calls for more sustainability within your organization and, in particular, our responsibility to bring about a carbon-neutral future?

This viewpoint was created by

Willy Legrand , Professor of Hospitality Management at the IUBH International University

There is no doubt that the hospitality industry needs to play its part in the global efforts to protect the environment and act responsibly. At Deutsche Hospitality, we have chosen a proactive approach by making sustainability a top priority. For example, all our leased and managed hotels and sites across Europe work according to ISO 14001 – the very latest standard in environmental management. Many of our hotels outside of Europe also use ISO 14001 environmental management systems, Green Key Certifications or local standards. This enables us to have a positive environmental impact.
The hospitality industry is in the midst of what I call a Golden Age of Travel. As middle classes expand around the world, more people are traveling than ever, and they are craving unique, authentic experiences. That’s an incredible business opportunity that we are rising to meet. The flip side of that opportunity is the critical responsibility we have to protect our communities and environment, so we can ensure destinations remain vibrant and resilient for generations of travelers to come.
The call for sustainability is becoming louder and louder and is totally justified. It is our individual and collective responsibility to bring our environmental footprint down and aim for a more carbon-neutral future.
The reach of sustainability in the hospitality industry is appropriately growing in response to changing guest expectations. We have our work cut out for us to make progress toward a carbon-neutral future. There is no single solution, but rather a network of strategies, systems, and efforts to chip away at our energy demands and reduce our material usage. Our consumers are demanding and forcing the shift to occur and the hospitality industry must holistically embrace the challenge.
We are entering into a new chapter for all businesses that demand a sense of urgency and the attainment of meaningful results on the sustainability front. Accor has long taken the view that we’re stewards of our incredible locales, and mitigating our impact is a key priority for Accor, and a responsibility the Group has fully embraced. Our key stakeholders are educated and aware, seeking an authentic connection between our sustainability programs, and our other CSR initiatives, and the results we drive to mitigate our impact.
Kempinski Hotels is fully aware of the challenges presented by climate change to the planet, and to the tourism industry in particular. We recognize our role in mitigating the changes of climate through significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and we are taking immediate steps in acting upon it. As the highest impact related to greenhouse gas emissions in the hospitality industry is linked to the energy use in the hotel buildings, our primary focus is directed on reducing energy consumption in already operated buildings, and incorporating best available technologies that provide the most efficient energy use in newly constructed buildings.
I hope the window of opportunity for hotels isn’t closing. At Dream Hotel Group, we are great supporters of sustainability and see a need for it in our industry. As a company, we’re already taking the necessary steps to start making a difference in our world, such as offering guests the choice to reuse their towels, sheets and other linens versus washing daily. These are small things that make a big impact.
More and more, guests, institutions and employees are demanding that companies pay more attention to environmental aspects as a key part of their decision-making and business strategy, clearly showing a shift in the general perception of the importance of climate change and responsible behavior.