Since the beginning of 2020, the travel industry has been forced to a full or partial halt in business as COVID-19 spread worldwide with no end yet in sight. The data on tourism losses changes as fast as it spreads and if this pandemic continues into the summer, the World Travel and Tourism Council projects a global loss of 75 million jobs and $2.1 trillion in revenue.
Economists have said that society’s blinkered approach to the future risk of disease provides a lesson for our failure to address the potentially bigger catastrophic effects of climate change. Both nightmare scenarios are playing out now which impact the vulnerable and disadvantaged the hardest, and increases our risks. This pandemic and the ongoing climate emergencies ring the loudest warning bells to the massive interconnected threats caused by human behaviour and our enormous vulnerability, making it ever clearer what’s at stake and what’s needed to build more resilience in the future.
Most hotels should redefine their sustainability approach in their Recovery and Resilience Plan in 2020. For many companies, sustainability or CSR (corporate social responsibility) is voluntary and self-regulating, a mixture of philanthropy, ‘eco’ initiatives and renewable energy programs, employee engagement and owner/investor relations with little to no governance on their Return-on-Investment, their lack of certifications with accreditation, and their marketing spin. The global crisis of trust in institutions and brands call for accountability and transparency around sustainability and the need to truly deliver value to stakeholders.
NOW defines sustainability as development and action that takes responsibility for our total impact on the community and the environment, to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The goal is to be carbon neutral and support the 17 Global Goals.
Hoteliers that have already committed to this rigorous definition of sustainability with accountability and transparency are ahead, having implemented policies that deliver tangible value and Return-on-Investment to their hotel brand and reputation by being held in high esteem, in attracting and retaining employees, and in saving money on initiatives.
Consumers will re-enter the travel market with caution and wherever people go, there is sure to be a greater sense of mindfulness and appreciation for nature, local people and cultures.
Our new normal should not be “business as usual” as travel slowly restarts in late 2020. The vital global drive for sustainability is touching every aspect of our lives and should be the cornerstone of a hotel’s Recovery & Resilience Plan.
It must be NOW!