Viewpoint: why we should all go green

19 January 2011
Viewpoint: why we should all go green

Being green is an important driver in the tourism sector, so why doesn't everyone do it? asks Andrea Nicholas, managing director of GTBS

Many hoteliers have misconceptions about the implications of greening and are afraid of adopting sustainable practices as a result. At the Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS), overcoming spurious false impressions is still our biggest challenge.

Fears of time and cost complications are among the most common misapprehensions, with many managers believing that consumers don't care whether they are green or not.

Some are anxious about potentially complex staff training issues, or believe that their property is unsuited to eco-friendliness. The reality, however, is that many basic changes are simple to implement and swift to deliver savings. For example, most hoteliers are missing out on a free and instant opportunity to cut their costs - including liabilities associated with the Carbon Reduction Commitment - through greater staff awareness and adopting an "on-demand" rather than "always-on" approach to facility management.

Some operators will say that green is not an immediate priority for them but this is, respectfully, a mistaken perspective to say the least. The "age of austerity" has put everyone under pressure to make savings and our members typically achieve a 20% reduction in energy usage almost immediately. There do exist, of course, options which demand investment but the principles of sustainability are not as prescriptive and rigid as is often assumed.

Other properties are genuinely making really significant progress with their sustainability efforts but are reluctant to promote them in case they are branded greenwashing. The GTBS works hard to offset such concerns for its members through a rigorous and respected accreditation process which is validated by the International Centre for Responsible Tourism and endorsed by VisitEngland, VisitScotland and VisitWales.

With concerns such as those discussed here in mind, a GTBS Green Tourism Week taking place in June 2011 will feature a strong educational dimension intended to increase hoteliers' understanding of greening and its impact upon the bottom line. Managers need to appreciate the bigger picture and the tourism sector must adopt a supportive, handholding approach to ensure that groundless prejudices do not threaten sustainability efforts.

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