Sustainable tourism or sustainability is the new buzz word, which has taken the travel industry by storm. There is no denying that tourism is one of the fastest-growing industries and a major source of income for millions of people. However, very few realise that it is one of the key sectors that is causing massive depletion of natural resources. Deciphering the dire need of the situation, numerous initiatives have been undertaken to promote sustainability and encourage travellers to act mindfully – culturally, environmentally and economically.
“With an increase in the number of travellers across the globe and the growing impact of the hospitality industry on the environment, sustainability has become a key factor in the successful management of hotels and resorts. Hospitality companies today have become very conscious of the environment. This is reflected in their policies and practices,” shares Kavinder Singh, MD & CEO of Mahindra Holidays and Resorts India Ltd. (MHRIL)
He further elaborates that embedding green development activities into the business will make a hotel/resort an environment-friendly place to stay, as well as an ideal place to work at. Sustainable practices like the adoption of renewable energy help the hospitality industry reduce costs. Thus, sustainability remains a driving force in this sector.
What originally seemed to have been considered to be a marketing gimmick is now being looked at as a need. Denying climate change seems similar to denying our existence. Karan Anand, Head, relationships, Cox & Kings shares, “We have noticed the number of destinations and hotels understanding this and coming out with measurable sustainability practices. This not only helps them rise above their competitors but also build an image of a green entity which is increasingly being tagged as a new normal.”
Karan elaborates that in India, the corporate social responsibility rules are more than a guiding light for the corporate to contribute to their immediate societal sectors. Institutes are expected to share their reports on social responsibilities enforcing accountability as well as encouraging them to undertake further steps. The push to change can also be felt trickling down from the international arena. Organisations including the United Nations, World Economic Forum and European Union have all picked up the baton towards ensuring a greener future. The hospitality industry is bound to follow suit at several levels.
In India touristy states such as Sikkim have already displayed an enormous commitment to sustainability with a ban on single-use plastics and disposables, making the state organic and open defecation free even before nationwide campaigns about cleanliness began. This is inspiring other states including Maharashtra and Kerala to also ban plastics that will eventually go to reflect on the practices of the hospitality industry.
For Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd, sustainability forms the core of their business. They have implemented sustainability programs across resorts in India and also abroad. Some of the key areas that they have been working on include Carbon FootPrint Measurement, the Conversation of Biodiversity, Alternate sources of Energy, Water Conservation and Community Development. For Energy Conservation, MHRIL has implemented numerous environment-friendly options like solar panels, heat pumps for hot and cold water, biogas plants, organic waste converters and electric vehicles. For Water Conversation they firmly abide by their 5R principle – Reduce, reuse, recycle, recharge and rainwater harvesting.