Not that long ago — although it seems like the Dark Ages now — I asked a hotel GM why there were no recycling bins on his property.
“Guests don’t like to think about garbage,” he said. “Out of sight is out of mind.”
I haven’t been back to this resort, but I’m willing to bet things have changed.
As you can read in this issue’s cover story, “Staying Green,” environmental issues are so fundamental to the hotel industry now that new resorts address these concerns before they are even built. Green Seal and LEED certification standards are becoming as familiar to hoteliers as the AAA Diamond Award and Michelin criteria. Indeed, we’ve come a long way in a short time.
And, contrary to what some in the industry might have speculated, the economic crisis has not had a dire impact on the greening of tourism. In fact, in some ways, the recession has increased interest in these practices by placing a much greater emphasis on the concept of efficiency.
“I think that with the economy the way it is, companies are reevaluating,” said Carol Martinez, vice president of communications for L.A., Inc., the convention and visitor’s bureau for the City of Los Angeles. “They have less revenue and resources and, when you are looking at efficiency, the answer is to run everything optimally, so some of these green initiatives go hand and hand.”
Suppliers throughout the tourism industry have come to realize that putting more thought into the ways their companies handle basic functions can not only result in a more sustainable environment, but it can lead to operational cost savings that go straight to their bottom lines. And that’s an easy sell in this economy.
It’s also important to consider that running a green resort may in itself help to sustain the natural beauty of a destination — and that can perpetuate the very essence of why travelers visit in the first place.