According to the WTO , accommodations such as hotels contribute to approximately 1% of the world's total carbon emissions.
A global report by Booking.com in 2022 found that the demand for sustainable accommodations is on the rise, with 78% of respondents expressing a desire to stay in an environmentally friendly property this year. The same report also found that 31% of respondents were not aware that sustainable accommodations were an option, while 29% did not know how to find sustainable hotels. To determine a hotel's sustainability practices, consumers should start by asking questions and doing research. Checking a hotel's website for a sustainability policy is a good place to start. Be careful, as greenwashing is a real issue, despite recent EU measures to prevent companies from making false environmental claims. To identify greenwashing, consumers should look for evidence of science-backed targets to reduce energy, carbon, water, and waste, as well as details on how companies involve and support the local community.
For those short on time, certification can help identify genuinely sustainable hotels. Certification involves an independent body auditing a property and giving it a stamp of approval, which lets travelers know that the property has been verified as sustainable. While certification can help identify sustainable hotels, the challenge is knowing which certifications to trust, given the dozens of options available, such as EarthCheck, Green Globe, LEED, and Green Key. The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is a good reference for finding sustainable hotels, together with the very exclusivist The Long Run. To be on the safe side, it's important to know that smaller, independent hotels are generally considered more sustainable because they have more control over their supply chains.
In addition to measuring energy usage and reducing carbon, another key factor to consider when assessing a hotel's sustainability practices is food waste. Large, self-service buffets can be a red flag, as they often result in significant amounts of wasted food.
Community involvement is also an essential aspect of sustainable tourism. It involves working closely with the local communities to ensure that tourism activities benefit them and are not detrimental to their way of life, economy or culture. Travelers can also ask questions, such as whether the hotel employs locals and sources food locally. Details like showcasing local artisans in gift shops can also have a positive impact.
While our main goal when we go on vacation is to have a good time, it is still important to consider the environmental and social impact of our travel choices. By supporting sustainable practices, and choosing responsible accommodation options, we can make a difference without sacrificing the enjoyment of our trip.
Source: National Geographic