The global hospitality industry has undergone a tremendous shift towards growing and operating sustainability. Responsible tourism is taking centre stage, with travellers increasingly seeking eco-friendly accommodations and experiences that have a positive impact on the planet and local communities. As the hospitality industry acknowledges the urgent need to address environmental and social challenges, sustainable tourism has become a critical component of our journey towards a better future.
The evolution of travellers: Driving change through conscious choices
Travellers have evolved into conscious consumers who prioritise sustainability in their choices. The modern globetrotter seeks to align their travel experiences with eco-friendly values, from reducing carbon footprints to preserving cultural heritage. A global study commissioned by IHG Hotels & Resorts revealed that 83 per cent of consumers noted the importance of choosing a hotel brand that operates responsibly, with guests willing to spend on average 31 per cent more on accommodation that meets this need. With the growing appetite for more eco-friendly stays, search engines and OTAs are now highlighting a hotel’s credentials, with Google labelling hotels meeting its sustainability criteria as Eco-certified, while Booking.com applies its Travel Sustainable badge.
Our efforts to create a sustainable future
The global hospitality industry has been actively responding to the changing consumer mindset for sustainable tourism by spearheading various initiatives and practices from energy-efficient technologies to waste reduction initiatives. In 2019, IHG Hotels & Resorts became the first hotel company to commit to replacing bathroom miniatures with full-size amenities across all brands – and we took this further in 2021 with a commitment to eliminate single-use items or move to reusable or recyclable alternatives across the guest stay by 2030.
As one of the world’s leading hotel companies, IHG Hotels & Resorts embraces the responsibility and opportunity to make a positive difference and help shape the future of responsible travel. At the core of our culture and business is to operate responsibly and sustainably. Our dedication to making a positive change led us to launch ‘Journey to Tomorrow’ in 2021, a 10-year action plan of clear commitments to drive change for our people, communities and planet, aligned with our purpose of ‘True Hospitality for Good’ and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
To help our hotels achieve our sustainability goals, we deploy IHG Green Engage, an online environmental management platform. The platform is a global standard and helps our properties across the globe measure, report and manage their use of energy, water and manage waste, while simultaneously minimising their utility costs and environmental impact. More than 200 Green Solutions are available to help our hotels make greener choices and we recognize their progress through four levels of certification.IHG is also implementing initiatives such as introducing bulk amenities as a part of our goal to eliminate single-use plastic items and introducing AI-based technology to reduce food waste, and collaborating with local stakeholders to tackle water sustainability issues in areas of greatest risk. Additionally, we continue to work with the hotels to reduce carbon emissions in line with climate science. There is a big focus on improving energy efficiency across our properties by introducing an Energy Reduction Metric in 2022, which remains a key area of focus this year as well.
Future outlook: Advancing sustainable and responsible tourism
Embracing sustainability is not just a trend but a necessary step towards a resilient and thriving hospitality sector. We should envision a future where travelers are drawn to India not only for its rich cultural experiences but also for the authentic and eco-friendly adventures it offers. To achieve this vision, we must work collectively and prioritise sustainability in all aspects of our operations. Government bodies, hoteliers, suppliers, and travellers must work hand in hand to create a more sustainable and responsible tourism ecosystem.
The rise of sustainable and responsible tourism has emerged as a catalyst for change in the hospitality industry, ushering in a new era of conscientious travel. As travellers increasingly prioritize eco-friendly experiences, it is incumbent upon us, as industry leaders, to respond with an unwavering commitment to sustainability. Through collective collaboration, we can forge a future where travel gives a new impetus to positive impact, leaving behind a legacy of conservation, cultural preservation, and community advancement.
The author is the Managing Director – South West Asia, IHG Hotels & Resorts, leading global hospitality company.
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