Sustainable Development Practices in the Hospitality Industry

Today, tourism is the largest industry globally, generating $1.5 trillion in revenue and supporting 11 million jobs. The hospitality industry is a vital source of income for many communities, offering employment and generating revenue. However, tourism has negative impacts on the environment and human health. Increasing tourism has resulted in land degradation, pollution, and the overexploitation of natural resources. There are three main areas for sustainable development: the environment, the economy and society. Developing these three aspects will ensure that the industry is sustainable and can provide long-term benefits for the economy and communities of the area.

The hospitality industry requires a lot of resources to run. Most hotels and other hospitality-related businesses need a lot of electricity, water, and other resources. Over time, the industry has grown and become more industrialized, which has caused environmental problems and strain on the environment.

One of the biggest challenges facing the hospitality industry today is its sustainability. As the world population grows and economies develop, the number of people traveling and staying in hotels and other lodging increases. This has resulted in a greater demand for resources such as water, energy and land, which are already scarce and limited in supply. As a result, the hospitality industry is facing challenges such as the over-usage of resources and the environmental impact of its businesses.


As the world becomes more and more connected, the need for sustainable development practices in the hospitality industry has become increasingly important. Hospitality is one of the most environmentally friendly industries. Still, current methods often result in higher carbon emissions and waste than conventional industries. Instead of meeting current environmental regulations, hospitality companies can increase their environmental sustainability by developing practices that improve environmental performance without reducing business operations or costing money. Understanding the factors that influence ecological sustainability in the hospitality industry is the first step toward developing environmentally friendly practices.

What is Sustainable Development?

Sustainable development aims to ensure that the use of resources is measured and managed so that ecological, social, and economic needs are all met. Sustainable development practices in the hospitality industry include certifications and accreditations, recycling, and renewable energy. These practices have been shown to have a positive environmental impact without reducing business operations or costing money.

  • Ethical social duty and the promotion of equality, well-being, and social justice are examples of social responsibilities.
  • Economic – Fair and equitable allocation of economic resources;
  • Environmental stewardship entails the preservation and restoration of natural resources, habitats, and ecosystems.

The United Nations enacted the Paris Agreement in 2015 with the goal of strengthening countries’ ability to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change and facilitating financing flows consistent with sustainable development. According to the agreement, each government must determine, plan, and report on global warming mitigation measures on a regular basis.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) are the roadmap for a more prosperous and sustainable future. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, endorsed by UN member states as the action plan to achieve sustainable development, contains 17 goals.

Each country must design its own action plan for implementing the UN SDGs and incorporating sustainable development into national policymaking. National focal points have been established to guarantee that their implementation of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production is coordinated (10YFP).

The EU Sustainable Finance Action Plan, adopted in March 2018 by the EU Commission, confirms the EU’s commitment to channel private financial flows into projects that support the Paris Agreement and the UN SDGs. The Action Plan has been incorporated into The European Green Deal, which also contains the Sustainable EU Investment Plan, the Green Deal’s investment pillar.

The European Commission unveiled The European Green Deal in December 2019, with the main goal of having Europe climate neutral by 2050. It will assess the climate merits of each existing law and create new legislation on the circular economy, building renovation, biodiversity, farming, and innovation.

The US National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) is a federal law in the United States that requires the study of environmental implications before any federal action that is likely to have a major impact on the environment. It defines as national policy the establishment and maintenance of “conditions in which humans and nature can dwell in productive harmony, allowing us to meet the social, economic, and other needs of present and future generations.”

The hospitality industry is a significant contributor to the environmental impact in the world. As the world population grows and economies develop, the number of people traveling and staying in hotels and other hospitality-related businesses continues to increase. This has resulted in a greater demand for resources such as electricity, water, and land, which are already scarce and limited in supply. As a result, the hospitality industry is facing challenges such as the over-usage of resources and the environmental impact of its businesses.

One of the most significant impacts of the hospitality industry on the environment is the impact of tourism on natural resources. Tourism development, which involves the development of new hotels and other forms of tourism infrastructure, has an enormous impact on the environment. Most hotels require a lot of electricity, water, and other resources to operate. Over time, the industry has grown and become more industrialized, which has caused environmental problems and strain on the environment.

Tourism development, which involves the development of new hotels and other forms of tourism infrastructure, has a significant impact on the environment. Most hotels require a lot of electricity, water, and other resources to operate. Over time, the industry has grown and become more industrialized, which has caused environmental problems and strain on the environment. The hospitality industry is a major contributor to the environmental impact of the world.

Why should hotels become more environmentally friendly?

Hotels that go green cause less environmental damage, save costs, and gain goodwill from guests.

In the corporate sector, sustainability is critical to generating growth and delighting customers. Consumers are increasingly seeking out green firms and willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products and services. One-third of consumers choose environmentally friendly brands, and the tourism industry is taking notice. TripAdvisor, for example, has created the GreenLeaders Program to showcase hotels with environmentally friendly best practices to conscientious tourists, such as hotels going green with LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

Hotels can also expect to save a significant amount of money by turning green. Moving toward sustainability entails lowering your energy and water consumption, as well as staffing for maintenance and guest services.

The sustainability business case outlines the financial benefits of sustainable development and greening hotel operations. Cost savings, competitive advantage, employee loyalty, customer retention, regulatory compliance, and risk management are all advantages.

In business, sustainability is frequently justified in terms of:

  • Increased profit margins as a result of utility savings;
  • Increased revenue as a result of matching consumer preferences and lowering reputational risk;
  • Long-term investment strategies; protection from regulatory risk and benefit from regulatory incentives
  • Long-term energy supply
  • Increased legitimacy and value through sustainable building certification.

Steps taken by Hospitality Industry for sustainable development

Sustainable hotels are those that use green best practices in maintenance, services, logistics, goods, and supplies to drastically reduce their environmental effect. The main components are waste reduction, energy conservation, and water conservation.

There are three main areas for sustainable development: the environment, the economy and society. Developing these three aspects will ensure that the industry is sustainable and able to provide long-term benefits for the economy and society of the area.

There are numerous ways a hotel may take to become more sustainable. Some are substantial capital expenses, such as replacing the HVAC system; others are simple to install and even inexpensive.
Make your employees environmentally conscious.

Form a green team.
Involve interested employees from each department in forming a “green team” to take the lead in recommending eco-friendly best practices in their field. This provides these personnel with a sense of ownership over green methods and increases their commitment to long-term adoption. Don’t forget to thank them for their time and effort with a little stipend, a special luncheon, or gift cards.

Begin with low-hanging fruit.

  • Your hotel or hotel group most likely already has eco-friendly policies in place, but there is virtually always space for improvement. Consider the following suggestions:
  • Reduce the consumption of plastic water bottles by providing members of hotel loyalty programmes with a reusable branded bottle.
  • In the lobby, install a water-bottle filling station.
  • Install extra towel racks in bathrooms to allow guests to reuse towels. Make a sign that encourages reuse.
  • Make recycling alternatives visible. Replace faded recycling symbols on obsolete bins, and put bins near elevator banks where guests will see them regularly.
Make the hiring and training processes more environmentally friendly.

Use phone calls for first interviews rather than inviting prospects to drop by — saving fossil fuels — then Skype or Facetime for face-to-face interviews. Instead of printing long employee manuals or hiring forms, provide new employees with links to electronic documents or on-site computer access for individuals without home computers. Instead of seeking hard copy resumes, direct new applicants to online employment portals. Also, make sure to promote your hotel’s sustainability efforts in hiring materials so that all new hires understand its importance in everyday operations.

Ensure that your guest services are environmentally friendly.

Concentrate on efficiency.
When it comes to a green corporate culture, this is the name of the game. Remote check-in/check-out and keyless access services decrease lost plastic key cards, paper usage, and can even assist reduce overstaffing – and the additional carbon emissions it creates.

Improve your transportation offerings and services with a focus on sustainability.
Install electric vehicle charging facilities for guests who drive electric or hybrid vehicles. Consider renting an eBike or an eScooter to encourage sustainable transportation (be sure to provide helmets for guests). Reduce the amount of low-occupancy automobile trips to and from your hotel by providing group shuttles (using hybrid or electric vehicles) to public transit hubs.
Make guest rooms more environmentally friendly.

Conservation should be automated.
Guest room sustainability efforts have progressed beyond cards asking guests to reuse towels, turn off the air conditioner, and turn off the lights on their way out. Many hotels today use technology to eliminate the guesswork:

Smart showers limit the duration of showers to a predetermined time, alerting users when their time is up.

Room sensors monitor light levels and adjust bulb brightness automatically.

Occupancy sensors in thermostats alter heating and cooling temperatures. These same room amenities can be linked to apps using Internet of Things (IoT) technology, allowing guests to modify settings remotely.

Sustainably furnish rooms.
In addition to smart technology, choose natural fiber sheets and furnishings made of sustainable materials when furnishing guest rooms. Instead of plasticware, paper, or styrofoam, stock the area with reusable coffee mugs and glasses. Provide natural and organic free-trade soaps and shampoos from certified green manufacturers in biodegradable packaging in the bathroom.

Make food services more environmentally friendly.

Reduce waste during events.
Reduce the number of trash cans at your event location while boosting the number of recycling choices to encourage visitors to dispose of their waste responsibly. Make recycling simple for guests by clearly labeling and arranging recyclable containers for paper, aluminum cans, and plastic bottles.

Make use of reusable plates, silverware, glasses, and cups.
This reduces your facility’s use of straws, plastic serving ware, and paper plates. You’ll also save money on supplies and garbage management (the less your hotel throws out, the lower the cost for trash hauling). To further reduce waste, replace single servings of cereal, yogurt, and jam at your breakfast bar with glass containers.

Buy locally.
Use local producers and food sources. It’s a terrific way to support local farmers while simultaneously lowering carbon emissions produced by trucking in food from afar. Menu items should include sustainable options, such as vegetarian and vegan options that use fewer resources to produce than meat.

Food from your kitchen can be composted and donated.
Establishing composting systems can help to encourage sustainable gardening practices. Unused or leftover food can also be donated to local and national food banks and organizations such as America’s Second Harvest.

Green up the gift shop.

Stock up on long-lasting products.
Consider green certified firms when deciding which products to offer or which manufacturers to use for branded garments and gifts. Investigate ethical apparel brands, fair trade accessories, and even ethical travel equipment.

Maintain efficiency.
In terms of hotel gift shop operations, tracking occupancy levels at your hotel will assist in effectively staffing the shop, reducing staff transportation emissions. Sensor lights can dim and brighten automatically at different times of day, and sensor thermostats can keep the shop comfortable.

Sensors on doors can illuminate interiors when opened in showcases, and there are ecologically friendly point of sale systems that use less electricity and paper for receipts.

And, by all means, replace plastic bags with compostable or reusable bags that can be returned to the desk or deposited in drop bins.

Water-based sustainability at hotel

Create eco-friendly hotel landscaping and gardening.

Hotels should incorporate sustainable landscaping practices into the client experience. It’s not just about catering to the more environmentally conscious customer or educating them on possibilities but making a cost-effective business decision that also happens to be environmentally responsible. The use of design and management approaches that are appropriate for your geographical climate is at the heart of sustainable landscaping. Sustainable gardens adapt to factors such as local rainfall patterns and can live without much watering. Ideally, they do not require pesticides or fertilizers, and while this is difficult to achieve, landscape specialists attempt to do so.

Encourage the growth of native wildflowers and plants on your property. They are not only attractive, but they are also adapted to the local environment and are likely to thrive and attract animals such as birds and butterflies. There’s no reason you can’t create an organized, tranquil, and appealing environment by carefully designing an area for wild flowers. The enhanced diversity of birds and insects that would embellish your hotel’s green grounds will delight guests and serve as a conversation starter. Having your own beehives provides a new dimension by selling home-produced honey as a unique and appealing service option.

Reduce the amount of runoff.
When it comes to the environment, excess water from storms, irrigation, and snow that does not evaporate or soak into groundwater is a silent assassin. It’s particularly difficult on hotel grounds, which have a lot of asphalt parking and concrete outside patios. To combat this, plant a rain garden and water retention ponds to collect drainage, as well as use previous pavement whenever practical.

Use water wisely.
With timed watering, smart irrigation systems can reduce needless water use. You can also minimize total water requirements by replacing grass with drought-resistant native plants and ground cover. This modification also decreases the demand for pesticides and fertilizers.

Rainwater collection is effective.
Nature has provided mankind with everything they need to survive. It is up to us to use these resources in a sustainable manner. Every year, due to a lack of rainfall, several countries experience drought and starvation throughout the summer. Furthermore, deforestation has exacerbated the situation. Rainwater collecting is an effective way to save and store water for future use in this situation. The procedure is straightforward and effective. All you have to do is construct an underground chamber to directly collect rainwater during monsoons and transfer the water gathered on your hotel’s terrace into the tank. The water can be purified and utilized for non-drinking uses such as laundry, cleaning veggies, equipment, and restrooms, among other things.

Install a composting worm bin.

There are numerous advantages to converting organic material into nutrient-rich soil and fertilizer:

  • Reduce the amount of rubbish hauled to landfills.
  • Keep pests out of your garbage (less trash, less pests)
  • Encourage going organic in your hotel kitchen operations.
  • Reduce plant diseases and use less herbicides
  • Help the soil drain properly to reduce runoff.
  • Accelerate the composting process using Organic Waste Composter that has the Modular Solar Dehydration System
  • Reduce the odor of composting (since the worms break down the vegetation faster)
You don’t even need to hide the composting bin; knowledgeable guests will see and appreciate the effort.

Keep hotel utilities environmentally friendly.

Keep things under wraps.
It may seem obvious, but keeping the sun off your hotel’s walls and windows will help you save money on energy. Plant trees or build awnings and overhangs — these are low-cost projects with extended payback periods.

Make water and energy conservation automatic.
To save water, install aerators in bathroom sinks and replace ordinary toilets with low flow or dual flush models. Replace standard lighting with energy-saving lighting that has sensors to turn on and off, as well as brighten and dim.

Spend money on green infrastructure.
Hoteliers interested in long-term sustainability can purchase high-priced products. ROI includes the following:

  • Installation of solar panels
  • Heating and cooling systems that are Energy Star certified
  • Thermal geothermal cooling towers
  • Systems for water recovery and recycling

Make hotel maintenance more environmentally friendly.

Give your operations a once-over.
Conduct a regular audit of equipment to ensure that it is utilizing the appropriate amount of power — both when in operation and when in standby mode. Your audit will evaluate your existing energy consumption, identify energy-saving opportunities, and assist you in calculating possible short- and long-term savings.

Maintain vigilance over your systems.
Monitoring sensors are available for most sorts of hotel equipment, including HVAC systems, furnaces, and generators. These user-friendly technologies include wireless reporting systems for predictive maintenance. Even if you do not invest in electronic monitoring, you may track every system in your property through an ongoing programme including different levels of hotel personnel, lead by maintenance, to analyze energy waste over time and formulate improvement strategies.

Ensure that hotel trash management is long-term.

Get rid of your plastic water bottles.
Plastic water bottles are among the most environmentally destructive things on the earth, taking up a lot of space and frequently becoming mixed in with waste during disposal. It is simple to transition guests and event participants away from bottled water and toward filtered water stations, refillable bottles, and water pitchers.

When feasible, compost.
You’ve undoubtedly realized that composting is an important sustainability practice by now. Every year, roughly one-third of the food produced for human consumption in the globe is lost or squandered. You may be able to compost some waste on your property, but you will almost certainly need to engage in a composting programme to keep compostable items out of landfills. Train your employees to separate compostable waste for easier pickup. You may also sell your coffee grounds to the general public as fertilizer.

Finally, explore new technology that can convert food waste into reusable water if you want to be genuinely inventive.

Go green with your purchases.

Make environmentally friendly choices.
As much as possible, choose biodegradable, non-toxic products in environmentally friendly packaging. A sustainable purchasing policy is reasonably simple to implement and should include goods such as:

  • Office supplies such as paint, writing pads, and pens
  • Luminaires
  • Cleaning supplies, disinfectants, and adhesives
  • Products made of paper
Look for green appliances that have been certified.
How much money does your hotel lose because of inefficient appliances? Replace your current appliances with energy-saving models such as commercial fryers and griddles, ice makers, ovens, dishwashers, freezers, and refrigerators. Pay particular attention to older-model washing machines, which should be replaced as soon as possible with energy- and water-saving ones.

What does it take to be designated as an environmentally friendly property?

There is currently no one, comprehensive set of standards for formally designating homes as environmentally friendly.

However, in an effort to “come to a shared concept of sustainable tourism,” the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), the body that manages global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, developed The GSTC Industry Criteria and Suggested Indicators for Hotels. The goal is to standardize all of the criteria contained in the various green hotel certification schemes available, such as Green Key, Green Star Hotel Certificate, and so on.

The GSTC Criteria are described by the organization as “the least that a hotel (or other sort of built accommodations) firm should aim to.”

Hotels that want to be formally certified as eco-friendly might contact one of the several GSTC-accredited certification bodies worldwide.

The complete list of GSTC-recognized standards and green-certifying bodies for hotels may be found here.
Once you begin utilizing environmentally friendly hotel operations, you must invest in environmental audits. Every hotel must take this step.

If the hotel passes all of the audit points, it is awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accreditation. It demonstrates that the specific hotel employs environmentally friendly techniques on some levels.

However, this audit is performed by other companies, and you must be cautious while selecting them because you may come across fraudulent ones as well. Other eco-friendly certifications include:
  • TripAdvisor Green Leaders
  • Greenkey
  • Energy Star
  • Green Tourism

Rakkh Resort: A Case Study

As the sentinels and custodians of the abode of gods, Rakkh, a boutique resort in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, has adopted and implemented several sustainable development goals. Rakkh has been free of plastic bottles and single use plastics since its inception. Rakkh has been built at a location that has a Charuru, a fresh natural water spring, flowing within the campus, which is bottled in glass and copper containers after proper filtration to ensure the safety and wellbeing of guests and staff. The toiletries used in the rooms are available in refillable dispensers, reducing the use of single use plastic.

Community empowerment and economic emancipation are taken very seriously. The mantra employed by Rakkh is, “A happy workforce is a motivated one.” Most of the team is from local villages, reducing the carbon footprint of long commutes at the same time, keeping them emotionally satisfied by being connected to family and the community at large.

Rakkh has adopted local architecture and construction materials in many of the structures, including the open air kitchen of Himachali Rasoi, Pottery Station, Maggi Station, and weaving hut, among others. Local mud or adobe construction helps generate employment for the artisans and workers around the village and destination.

The kitchen at Rakkh is serviced by local vendors for vegetables and fruits, and some of the supplies come from the organic kitchen garden cultivated within the property. The wheat flour needed for bread is processed in the Pan-Chakki or watermill, nearby, operated by the village. Rakkh has been working to revive these traditional and sustainable methods of milling, and Pan Chakkis are traditional and sustainable methods of milling. Even exquisite varieties of jams, marmalades, pickles are sourced from local industries with sustainable and social practices such as Bhuira Jams.