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Climate Change and Hospitality Industry

Due to the rapid human activities in the past few centuries, the earth has warmed up like never before. Climate change results from such activities and affects our lives in ways we can’t even imagine. Climate change is affecting all areas of our lives; land areas are decreasing due to rising sea levels, agricultural productivity is declining, labour productivity, human health and the tourism and hospitality industries are all affected. Fixed assets make hospitality and tourism businesses more susceptible to climate change.

 The United Nations have predicted that the accommodation sector will soon account for nearly one-quarter of the tourism industry’s carbon emissions because of the high growth in hotel establishment and its energy-intensive nature. Several factors, including customer demand, public relations and reputation, competitive advantage, increasing market share, ensuring customer and employee loyalty, government regulations, parent company’s CSR policy etc., determine a hotel’s involvement in environmental practices. However, with growing technological innovations and a better understanding of the environment by people, steps are being taken in full sway to mitigate the effects on nature and cohabitate tourism and climate in the same bowl.

A few years ago, Hilton, with more than 5,500 hotels globally, set up a cogeneration plant in New York to reduce its carbon footprint. The 1.75-megawatt plant, fuelled by cleaner-burning natural gas, produces over 50 per cent of the electricity and 35 per cent of the steam needed to power the hotel’s nearly 2000 rooms and lessen its carbon footprint by almost 30 per cent. Hotels are even looking into automated electrical circuits which switch off appliances automatically when they are not in use. In addition to carbon reduction education for employees, water-saving practices, such as reusing towels and linens, bathroom water-saving facilities, and water recycling and reuse are also regarded as common adaptation strategies in the hotel industry.

Even ships involved in the hospitality industry have discarded the use of harmful sulphides and replaced them with the much safer biofuels obtained from fish for fuel. Royal Caribbean upgraded its ships to have purification systems that remove approximately 98 per cent of sulphur dioxide emissions from its ship engines’ exhaust. Government regulations and incentives may also be significant for encouraging better environmental practices by tourism businesses. 

Popular tour operator Intrepid Travel, one of the world’s largest group tour companies, has invested in renewable energy projects such as a wind power plant in Rajasthan to help lessen carbon emissions in the area. A few years back, it also cut down on its flight itineraries and introduced rail itineraries stating the reason that air travel left much more carbon footprint than rail travel.

It can be seen that the efforts of everyone present in the hospitality industry are driven towards reducing their carbon emissions. The genesis of these efforts lies in the Paris Climate Accord, signed in 2015 by 195 countries aiming to lower their carbon emissions by keeping temperature increases less than two degrees Celsius than in the pre-industrial revolution era. More than anything, it is up to the individual to reduce their carbon footprint, which will be the most helpful in the longer run.

Other such topics are discussed at the Hospitality Management College at Amrapali Institute, HaldwaniAmrapali Educational Institute is a top-ranked institute in Uttarakhand

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