Topic 4 Sustainability in hospitality and travel organisation sectors

Recent years have seen the birth of various types of alternative tourism (Eco or eco-friendly, Nature-based, Green, Slow, Creative, Fair, Soft, Rural, or Responsible tourism). This trend is mostly driven by environmental or social awareness, in reaction to the negative consequences related to mass tourism. These alternative tourism approaches meet special needs motivated by specific travel incentives. They are usually driven by engaged people and are still considered as niche sectors but are likely to increase. Most of these initatives are respecting the natural environment and cultural heritage of the regions they are embedded into. They also convert the relationship between  locals and visitors in a friendly and cooperative way, respecting social values. Let’s be critical. Some of these initiatives are only using a trendy name but are not always changing the mainstream approach to mass tourism.

Apart from these emerging initiatives in which environmental or social concern is clearly displayed, environmental concern is more and more an integral part of hotel policies. Tourism and Hospitality Management systems are often proposing a sustainability management section (water and waste management, energy monitoring, audit and compliance sections, etc.). Today, most major hotel groups integrate sustainability in their business strategy or corporate responsibility report. This is now something considered as a must-have.

Source: World Commission on Environment and Development (1987). Our Common Future.

See for instance some experts of large hotel groups corporate sustainability reports:

We are committed to designing, building and operating more environmentally sustainable hotels”.

  -Intercontinental Hotel Group (n.d.)

Sustainability is a priority for Hilton Worldwide and a central part of how the company does business”.

  -Hilton (n.d.).

“Our sustainability strategy supports business growth and reaches beyond the doors of our hotels to preserve and protect our planet’s natural resources”.

  -Mariott (n.d.).

Nevertheless, Dr. Martin-Rios, C. (2019), Associate Professor at EHL, expressed his disappointment over the lack of tourism industry representatives among the most sustainable companies in the world: “[…] those ground-breaking pioneers that inspire transformation at a massive scale.” No major hotel group is indeed in the annual ranking of the 100 most sustainable companies listed by Corporate Knights, the voice for clean capitalism.