I may sound repetitive and angry in my advanced years, but I have looked back at numerous articles about sustainability & the environment in relation to the hospitality industry and tried to ascertain if anything has actually changed since I started taking an interest many years ago.
My sad, angry and disappointed self, surmises that not much, if anything, has changed in the past few years, besides eliminating a few plastic straws and bottles in some properties and regions.
In recent times, some hotels/companies made big announcements about the carbon footprint reduction they had implemented or will implement in future. Has this been achieved or was this all just PR? Talk is cheap, so I would like to see the facts and figures of what has really happened.
Some companies made grand gestures by appointing “Sustainability Executives” to their senior management teams in the belief that this alone would make the world a better place!
I would love to see a job description for those jobs and the candidate profile that goes with it. What are their credentials to advise and monitor the carbon footprint of a hotel company and what are they actually doing on a day to day basis?
We all know that carbon footprint reductions come with financial costs. In our industry, with each property most likely having different owners and environmental circumstances, (not to mention hotel operators) even companies with the best intentions may have a problem asking for money to implement their environmental strategy, with so many owners up to their ears in debt.
The problem is and will always be, the cost, and who is willing to pay for it. So many governments are already holding off adopting policies that science says are needed immediately, so how can the private sector alone be held responsible?
How can a hotel company standardize its properties under one common directive when a hotel in Beijing obviously has a very different environment to a resort property in the Maldives or the Seychelles or Bali?
Incentives and regulation from government seems to be the only way to move this forward, but with so few governments worldwide having the ambition to do anything, other than try and get re-elected, it will need a major jolt from the voting masses to change the situation.
I think it is time that we start (continue?) educating the young about the importance and basics of what sustainability is all about, in the hope that they can educate their parents and eventually vote to save their planet.
This needs to be taught from the first days of school, just as we teach reading, writing and arithmetic. This is surely more important than much of the hogwash currently taught…
Yet again, this goes back to governments and the people who create the curriculum and the teachers who deliver the programmes to students. In some places there seems to be more focus on banning books in school libraries than on saving the planet! (Yes, I’m talking to you America!! Link)
As for the hospitality industry: Hotel schools, universities, training colleges across the world should be trailblazers and contribute to the ongoing discussion and education of this key subject. This should be essential learning for students that goes beyond how to boil eggs or slice a tomato…
About the Author
Karl Faux is a veteran Hotelier and Managing Partner with Elite Search – a leading hospitality recruitment firm.