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World Environment Day : Smart hospitality solutions towards sustainable tourism


Agencies, New Delhi On World Environment Day, let's remember one man's vacation destination is someone’s home. Consumers can play a big role and hospitality industry is practicing sustainable tourism and doing its bit to save the environment. Judicious use of energy and water reuse are among some of the measures undertaken by Hospitality industry to practice sustainable tourism and doing its bit. Sustainable tourism is all about adapting and re-focusing. There is a dire need to strike a balance between setting limits and changing usage habits and continuously plan, implement, monitor actions and then course correct as needed to ensure real impact. The travel and tourism sector has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. As per the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) annual research, the sector grew at 3.9 per cent to contribute a record USD 8.8 trillion and 319 million jobs to the world economy in 2018. Such growth also brings into the limelight the need for sustenance. With a growing population and increasing tourists, the hospitality industry is looking into ways they can make tourism more sustainable and eco-friendly. Energy usage makes for a significant percentage of a hotel’s carbon footprint. While transforming into clean energy, by installing solar panels could warrant major capital investments, there are some smaller ways in which hotels are taking an eco-friendly approach - timer switches and thermostatic radiator valves to control the heating system’s output, and opting for low-energy lightings such as LED lamps or T5 tubes. Water recycling is becoming core to sustainability efforts by the hotel industry with initiatives like rainwater harvesting that helps in saving an enormous amount of water in hill stations and other tourist hotspots. OYO Hotels & Homes has equipped 83 per cent of its hotels in Shimla with rainwater harvesting systems under OYO Reach - CSR assistance program. Implementation of this technique will lead to an enormous increase in the savings of potentially 81,000 litres of water requirement for hotels in the hill station. Since tourism has been one of the most important contributors in boosting the state’s economy, the adoption of such techniques will also promote sustainable tourism practices across the hotel industry. Other smaller yet impactful initiatives are being taken to practice sustainable tourism, like - usage of glass water bottles instead of plastic bottles; usage of dispensers for daily hygiene amenities, which can be refilled and used for longer periods as compared to plastic bottles. Guests are encouraged to save water by practicing use of towels and bed sheets for 2-3 days instead of requesting change every day; plants are kept inside the properties for cleaner air; key cards used to automatically turn off electrical devices when not in use are some measures taken proactively by many hotels. While the hotel industry is doing its bit, tourists are also playing a big role. There are a number of eco-friendly practices and alternatives that a traveller could adopt to contribute to the cause - adopting green practices while in the hotel, taking care of heritage sites and maintaining cleanliness, using city public transport, cycling or walking around wherever possible, using vehicles running on natural gas, using recyclable bags and not littering around. One of the biggest challenges, hoteliers face in implementing some of these initiatives is the mixed feedback from customers. While some understand and comfortably adopt, there is a need for a complete change in mind set at multiple levels.

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