Green Hotels & Responsible Tourism Initiative

How To Increase Your Bottom Line By Going Green

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Environmental Impact of Hotels

Individually, hotels do not have a significant negative impact on the environment. Collectively however, they can be very wasteful and consume huge amount of resources. It has been estimated that seventy-five percent of hotels' environmental impacts can be directly related to excessive consumption (Bohdanowicz, 2006). This is wasteful in terms of resources and it creates unnecessary operational costs.

The three key areas of environmental impact are energy, water, and waste.

Energy - Excessive energy use is extremely costly and with minor adjustments, it can lead to massive cost savings. According to Gössling et. al. (2005), "the average energy consumption per bed per night in hotels might be in the order of 130 Megajoules. Hotels generally use more energy per visitor than local residents, as they have energy intense facilities, such as bars, restaurants, and pools, and have more spacious rooms" (Gössling et. al. 2005:6). Studies have determined that a hotel emits an average 20.6 kg of carbon dioxide per night (Gössling et al., 2005).

Waste - A study conducted by Bohdanowicz (2005) also identified that hotels are not only resource intensive and that waste generation is one of the most visible effects on the environment. One estimate identified "that an average hotel produces in excess of one kilogram of waste per guest per day" (Bohdanowicz 2005:190). Approximately 30 percent of waste in hotels can be diverted through reuse and recycling.

Water - Tourists and residents alike require a clean and dependable supply of water for survival including drinking, cooking and cleansing. However, water is integral to the amenities usually expected by tourists, such as swimming pools, landscaped gardens, and golf courses. Water also supports industries such as agriculture that support the tourism industry (Pigram, 1995). Thus, tourists demand more water than local residents on a per capita basis (Essex, Kent & Newnham, 2004). It has been estimated by Salen (1995) that 15,000 cubic meters of water would typically supply 100 rural farmers for three years and 100 urban families for two years, yet only supply 100 luxury hotel guests for less than two months (Holden, 2000). In dryer regions, tourists' water consumption can amount to 440 liters a day per tourist, which is almost double the average amount of water used by residents in Spain (UNEP, 2008).

In destinations that do not have the required infrastructure and systems to manage these impacts, severe degradation of the environment can occur. To further demonstrate the environmental impacts of hotels, Appendix one identifies the main environmental impacts from hotel services and development.