As a follow up to my previous articles about sustainability in the hospitality industry, and as a result of great response to the issues raised, here is another instalment. We can but hope that industry leaders take note and are brave enough to be pro-active and take the initiative.
With the current global health pandemic, priorities have rapidly changed across all hospitality operations. For many, survival has become the overarching goal and the environment has taken a backseat on a very old rickety bus. So far, our beloved industry has had to deal with massive business collapse and mass unemployment, or under employment, of our workforce, placing tremendous economic pressure on all concerned.
Despite all this doom and gloom, there have been some bright spots from an environmental perspective.
Media reports abound describing the clean and clear canals of Venice, without the hordes of tourists and gondolas floating around. With dramatically reduced air pollution, blue skies have been sighted in cities that hadn’t realised the sky was blue. Wildlife began to take back the suburbs in cities where only previous sightings had been as roadkill! In case we hadn’t realised, these are all signs that we humans are largely responsible for the damage done to the environment.
Nature continues to amaze and started to recover and restore itself. The evolving environment should be a reminder that we need nature, but nature doesn’t need us to survive…maybe that should be a guiding mantra for whatever we do in life.
So now we can see that the environment can recover and all is not lost, how does our industry react and how can we capitalise on what we see is now possible from an environmental perspective?
It might sound a radical idea, but how about a rating system on hotels, resorts and destinations? Can we measure and report to what degree they are environment friendly in terms of building, operation and return of goodwill to environment causes? I might be far too idealistic with this idea, but I think that could be one way to stop over development of destinations and ensure resorts and tourist attractions can only be developed sustainably and stop development in places where there is a serious impact on the environment.
We give energy rating to white goods on water consumption, electricity and so on, so why not put in place a rating system for environment friendliness and sustainability.
The question of course arises, who would introduce and drive this initiative? Who would be the authority to establish and enforce the guidelines? We live in a world where most understand the need to act on climate change, yet we still fail to agree on even the most basic of actions to address it.
Many think that environmental action is a luxury and economic imperatives take precedence, but should we really ignore a sustainable future over short term thinking or greed or stupidity or whatever? We only have the one planet after all…
But sadly, societies are slow to learn and prevention rather than cure is seldom high on the agenda for all but a few.
So what do we tackle first?
Uncontrolled development should be on top of the list, followed by environmentally friendly and sustainable building design and development. Water resource management, waste management, recycling, energy management, renewables, all should be a priority.
The out of favour cruise ship industry has made great strides in how they recycle and reuse, so why can’t this be replicated and improved upon in large tourism developments, remote resort destinations or in our cities.
The point is we need to make a start – no more excuses. Mistakes will be made and initiatives can be refined, but as the old saying goes ‘a journey starts with a single step’.
Our industry must lead not follow, demanding sustainable development from architects, developers and state authorities. We must drive sustainability to protect our world so we can all enjoy the wonders of our planet. This goes a long way beyond removing mini bottles in bathrooms and plastic straws in cocktails which seems to be the current in vogue major initiative!
About the author
Karl Faux is a veteran Hotelier and Managing Partner with Elite Search – a leading hospitality recruitment firm.
For more information about Karl and Elite Search visit http://www.elitesearch.com.au and The Elite Hotelier http://www.elitehotelier.net