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February 2020

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With the USD 8.8 trillion travel and tourism industry having one of the highest growth rates of all industries in the world, accounting for over 10% of global GDP and one in 10 jobs globally, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council, sustainability and environmental impact is a fundamental issue across the sector.


According to's 2019 Sustainable Travel Report, 70% of global travellers say they would be more likely to book accommodation knowing it was eco-friendly and 66% of consumers are willing to pay extra for sustainable brands. (Deloitte)


Despite the rise in demand for sustainable accommodations, travellers still face barriers when making sustainable travel choices with 37% of respondents not knowing how to make their travel more sustainable. (Ernst & Young)


The industry remains relatively fragmented in its global effort to tackle the issue of sustainability in tourism. One example is The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, launched in 2015, as 'the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all'. It includes 17 goals aiming to 'address the global challenges, including poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice'.


Similarly, the International Tourism Partnership is a powerful hotel industry platform on sustainability which has helped define a standard measurement tool for carbon and water footprints at hotels, which is now offered for free for any hotel, event location, convention centre to calculate their carbon footprint.


TripAdvisor, has developed its GreenLeaders Program showcasing hotels with environmentally-friendly best practices to conscientious travellers, such as hotels going green with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).


Whilst there is still a long way to go, there is an ever-expanding list of brands and individual properties striving to respect their guest’s desire for responsible travel and environmentally friendly accommodation. 


We’ve selected a snapshot of some of the best in class global hospitality brands, international hotels and UK restaurants, as well as looking at how the events sector is transforming to become more environmentally conscious.


Best in Class – Global Hospitality Brands









Accor has been a leading hotel chain in its sustainable effort. Their "Planet 21" initiative was launched in 2011 and addresses 10 of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.


Meanwhile, Marriott and Hilton provide full transparency regarding each of their hotel's efforts thorough a 'Serve 360', detailing specific hotel impact metrics section on each hotel’s website and its ‘LightStay’ initiative respectively.


Six Senses has been serious about reducing its environmental impact since the 1990s when it committed to the elimination of disposable plastic. They are on target to operate completely free of plastic from 2022.


Through a “Waste to Wealth” initiative, Six Senses collect and recycle waste where possible, composting to support on-site organic gardens at every Six Senses property and reusing wastewater for irrigation. The group restores marine habitats through protecting nesting turtles on beaches, planting seagrass and growing and planting coral reefs.


Best in Class – Hotels









Soneva Fushi, Maldives

An eco-pioneer among resorts in the Maldives, Soneva Fushi recycles 90% of its waste on-site at its own Eco Centro recycling plant.  Food waste from the resort's restaurants is composted to create nutrient-rich soil for the vegetable gardens. Soneva is also working with the Maldivian government to open recycling facilities to three neighbouring islands, to help support local communities to reduce plastic consumption.


Camp Glenorchy, New Zealand

Listed as one of TIME Magazine’s “World’s Greatest Places,” Camp Glenorchy is New Zealand’s first net-zero energy lodging. The camp uses 50% less energy and water than comparable resorts, relying on features including a solar garden, smart lighting and an advanced onsite energy and water management system.


Pikaia Lodge, Ecuador

A carbon-neutral lodge using solar panels and only biodegradable cleaning products.  Recyclable, eco-friendly building materials are locally sourced such as its lava stone bathroom tiles, taken from local sites approved by the National Park Service and construction of the lodge from sustainable, agro-cultivated teak and bamboo wood from Ecuador.


Best in Class – UK Restaurants









The Black Swan at Oldstead

The Michelin-starred and internationally acclaimed restaurant-with-rooms sees the majority of produce from its kitchen garden and the local family farm, the rest is from small local suppliers – often the fruit and veg no-one else wants. Ingenious methods ensure every part of each ingredient is maximised across menu items such as the waste whey, from homemade cheese using raw milk, which is used four times, across two savoury dishes, in ice cream, and caramelised and grated on top of carrots.


Silo, Hackney Wick, London

Simply not having bins in the kitchens, choosing local ingredients that themselves generated no waste and using eco-friendly clingfilm or using vegetable skins, are just some of the innovations at Silo to minimise its footprint.


Sat Bains, Nottingham

With a strong focus on sustainability, their kitchen garden and greenhouse provide fresh produce to the restaurant.  They also use a composter to cook food waste which can then be used as compost on the growing food in the kitchen garden.



Best in Class - Green Events










Conferences and events have a fundamental impact on the communities and the environment where they are hosted. As a result, sustainability has risen to the top of the agenda for all stakeholders involved but just how well is the industry faring?


"At the moment we are investigating what we can do, our industry does have a lot of waste and we are a bit behind" (Judy Elvey, Cvent, C&IT’s annual State of the Industry in December 2019)


Clients with a strong corporate culture based on sustainability consider this aspect when making choices throughout the entire planning process: from the event location and venue choice to event agenda and food menus.


The Venue

The single biggest contributor to an event's carbon footprint is travel, therefore location and access are essential factors when selecting an event venue. The overall environmental impact of the event, such as energy and water use and the waste generated by delegates mean planners are increasingly selecting venues that have obtained environmental certification, providing assurances that the environmental impact of the event will be minimised.


Carbon offsetting

Carbon offsetting enables neutralising the carbon footprint of an event by means of supporting projects, typically energy efficiency, renewable energy or tree planting that either reduce or offset carbon dioxide emissions. Radisson is a leading example of a hotel group offering 100% carbon neutral meetings, automatically offsetting the carbon footprint for every meeting and event taking place at their hotels.



The choice of locally sourced organic and seasonal produce, as well as providing vegetarian dishes will reduce the environmental impact and benefit communities. Planning to prevent waste is essential and the number of delegates should be confirmed as precisely as possible, to manage the volume of food.



Using as much on-site AV technology will help replace the need for distributing printed materials.  


Event Giveaways

On the whole, the industry has got better at not handing out endless disposable novelties in corporate branding or the logo of the event, most of which probably ends up becoming landfill. The 2020 Baftas led the way with offering no goodie bags.  Examples of giving delegates tickets to cultural events happening in the city around the same time as a conference are excellent examples of giveaways that also gets delegates out of the hotel and exploring the city.


In summary

For leading brands, sustainability is embedded in everything they do. Demand from stakeholders is increasingly challenging companies to improve and be more transparent in their sustainability efforts. We are optimistic that the hospitality industry will lead the way in the global sustainability effort in the next decade.


We are here to support your business in its sustainability efforts. Please contact us via our contact form, email or call +44 (0)7907 058206.

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