Tag Archives: sustainable tourism

Sustainability: A Game Changer for the Hospitality and Tourism Sector

The Next Megatrend: Sustainability as a Game Changer for the Hospitality and Tourism Sector was the theme of the 2011 Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association‘s Annual General Meeting lunch held at the Hilton Barbados on June 8. The AGM lunch keynote address was given by Jacqueline Kuehnel of JK Consulting Enterprises from Toronto, Canada. Ms. Kuehnel ‘s presentation drew from a wide range of business management literature as well as hospitality and tourism trend studies that see sustainability strategy as an essential part of business competitiveness and long-term survival.

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Greenwashing in the Travel and Tourism Industry

Ever since “greenwashing” officially entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 1999, the definition of “disinformation that is disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image” has an instantly recognizable term. There is no question that the ominous presence of this “bête verte” is increasingly problematic to businesses and regulators, while NGO’s and consumer protection groups navigate through a maze of hazy green claims in products and services.

Much of the greenwashing accusations or “sins”, as creatively articulated by TerraChoice’s The Sins of Greenwahsing”, have been focused on consumer household and personal use products. However, there has been no shortage of eco–criticism for the highly fragmented and mostly unregulated global travel and tourism industry.  The majority of travel businesses are small and medium size enterprises, but collectively they are energy, carbon, water and waste intensive, while mass tourism is highly disruptive to the natural environment. In an industry with  eight main sectors and approximately twenty eight subsectors, it is not difficult to make environmental claims that are light on accuracy yet can neither be easily substantiated nor discredited.  While the perpetrators may generally be well intentioned but uninformed tourism operators, large publically traded companies like EasyJet from the UK have also been reprimanded for misleading advertising.

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Sustaining Tourism – one hotel at a time!

The tourism industry is often ignored when the world thinks of the big polluters in industry. Visions of smokestacks billowing black smoke tend to come to mind but the industry which includes cruising, accommodations, attractions, tour operators, casinos and airlines does its fair share to hurt the planet.

Accommodations collect a large piece of the tourism pie and are located pretty much everywhere. From a sustainability point of view, however, they have the highest environmental impact after hospitals – as they operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.  Hotels use an incredible amount of water, energy and produce large quantities of waste. The average hotel guest creates approximately 2-3 kg of waste per person per night. They also use approximately 350 litres of water per guest per night. A luxury hotel uses up to 1800 litres per guest per night. Putting this into perspective – a medium size hotel uses the same amount of water in one day as a small village of 100 families would use in one year. And the hotel pays for their water twice – once to bring it in and once to dispose it.  Socially, and depending on where in the world the hotel is located, numerous other issues arise. Low wages, insufficient breaks, community injustices and disregard of planning legislations can name a few!

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