When choosing a hotel for your travels, have you ever paid attention to the sustainability labels of accommodations? You’ve got the option to go for eco-friendly digs, too! As the climate crisis deepens and global environmental awareness grows, “sustainable tourism” is gradually gaining attention from travelers worldwide.
According to Booking.com’s “2022 Sustainable Travel Report,” 86% of travelers express a concern for sustainable travel. Additionally, 54% of travelers indicate that they have been influenced by climate change issues recently, leading them to take recent climate change issues into account when making travel decisions. Furthermore, a significant 70% of global tourists state that whether actively seeking it or not, they tend to prefer sustainable accommodations.
The CEO of Hotel Royal, FANG-ZHENG SHEN, has also mentioned, “Hotels must be pioneers in the sustainable industry. In terms of food, clothing, shelter, and transportation, there are many cooperating vendors and suppliers. The materials chosen and items used can gradually steer the industry towards a circular path if brands with sustainable concepts or environmental certifications are selected.”
Eco-Friendly Initiatives Gain Momentum: Sustainable Travel Certifications Launched by Accommodation Giants and Government
To keep up with this trend, several big names in the accommodation industry, such as Agoda and Booking.com, have introduced their own sustainability certifications. Among these players, Booking.com was a frontrunner, initiating its sustainable travel program back in 2021 and then rolling out a fresh hierarchy of “Sustainable Travel Badges” just last year.
This innovative approach isn’t just about informing travelers about accommodations’ sustainability efforts, but also about setting clear, step-by-step goals for establishments transitioning to sustainable practices. This gradual approach assists them in working towards the ultimate certification.
Hence, Booking.com is also expanding its acceptance of third-party certifications and badges. This means that accommodations with these certifications can now automatically qualify for its coveted “Sustainable Travel Badge.”
Additionally, the Environmental Protection Administration has introduced the “Green Hotel – Environmental Certification” program. This program assesses factors like environmental management, energy and water conservation, sustainable procurement, waste reduction, and pollution prevention. Hotels are classified as Gold, Silver, or Bronze based on their efforts, incentivizing them to actively adopt sustainability measures.
Simultaneously, there is another relatively achievable and straightforward assistance initiative known as the “Green Hotel – Environmental Promotion Program.” Under this scheme, operators encourage guests to engage in eco-friendly behavior and offer incentives in return. Accommodations that meet the criteria can display the Green Hotel sign at their entrances, attracting environmentally-conscious travelers.
Leading Hotel Chains Take Bold Steps Towards Sustainability with Ambitious Carbon Reduction Targets
Besides accommodation platforms and small-scale inns, the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance (SHA) emphasizes the role of major hotel chains in contributing to sustainability. They are embracing the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to employ scientific methods to determine reasonable carbon reduction targets for specific hotels, thereby facilitating sustainable operations. Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. has set a carbon reduction target for 2030 that spans its 14 brands and over 5,300 hotels. Their goal is to decrease total carbon emissions by 61%. Similarly, Marriott International, the world’s largest hotel group, has accelerated its timeline for achieving carbon reduction and resource reduction targets to 2025. By that time, their portfolio of over 6,500 hotels aims to achieve a 30% reduction in total carbon emissions, a 45% reduction in waste generation, and a 15% decrease in water usage. These measures all underscore their commitment to minimizing environmental impact.
As the tourism industry’s emphasis on sustainability continues to grow, it’s foreseeable that more and more accommodation providers will join the ranks of sustainable travel in the future. At the same time, we look forward to travelers prioritizing eco-certifications when choosing lodgings and actively engaging in eco-friendly practices during their stay, such as bringing personal toiletries and opting not to change bed linens and towels daily. This collaborative effort between travelers and accommodations advances the common cause of sustainability, underscoring a shared commitment to addressing environmental concerns and achieving the ultimate goal of sustainable travel.
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