For many countries the tourism industry represents one of the most important sources of income and employment generation. Hotels and all the various forms of accommodation comprise the largest sector of this industry and, being commercial buildings, have a great impact on the environment, economies, cultures and societies in general.
There is strong recognition that uncontrolled growth in hospitality industry development aimed at short-term benefits often results in negative impacts, harming the environment and societies, and destroying the very basis on which hospitality is built.
In a world characterised by natural resources scarcity, pollution, climate change, social inequity and vulnerable economic conditions, there is an increasing need for the lodging sector to demonstrate a commitment to reducing its environmental footprint and to addressing social concerns. Whatever their size, location and target market, hotel services are finding themselves held to account for their sustainability practices and policies.
Sustainability –i.e., the simultaneous and balanced integration of environmental, social, and economic aspects- is considered such an important issue that, if integrated in a business strategy, can define a company’s success in the marketplace. There are several drivers that are making sustainability a top priority for organisations in the hospitality sector. Conscious consumers, increased government pressures, competitors’ actions, rising costs and the need to improve operational efficiencies are contributing to the business imperative to adopt green technologies, processes and operating procedures.
Since awareness for environmental and social issues is growing, sustainability will increasingly become the norm and part of consumer expectations. Strategy and operations that are considered irresponsible will negatively impact stakeholder decision-making, from investors through to consumers.
A sustainable strategy not only brings cost savings through operational efficiency but also other economic benefits can be gained, including customer loyalty, employee retention, awards and recognition, and increased brand value.