In the tourism sector, a commitment to undertake sustainable environmental practices can positively influence potential visitors. In a study of 1,300 US travellers, TripAdvisor.com noted over 60 per cent of respondents ‘consider the environment’ when choosing the likes of a hotel.
Scotland’s hotel and hospitality sector is arguably increasingly attuned to the customer and business benefits of implementing energy efficient practices. Reducing waste is just one of the sustainable tourism objectives of the Scottish Tourism Alliance that also notes ‘to be sustainable, tourism needs to be competitive and profitable as well as environmentally and socially responsible’.
I believe guests welcome initiatives that collectively aim to minimise our carbon footprint. As part of the Green Tourism Business Scheme, both Radisson Blu Edinburgh and G&V Edinburgh are ‘eco-labelled’. It gives guests the assurance that an independent third party audits the hotel’s environment-focused practices. Every investment, from installing LED lighting to the use of non-volatile organic compound paints, must reflect our commitment to operate as a ‘responsible business’.
Whether it’s in-room leaflets to advise guests of ways they can help conserve energy, sourcing fresh produce locally and offering electric car charging stations, our sector can help guests feel empowered to help reduce energy consumption; and ultimately alleviate tourism’s impact on the planet. Inculcating a practical understanding of environmental responsibilities is part of our staff training.
Of course, there are also business benefits to adopting sound sustainable practices. Reduce energy costs and there’s also a positive impact on the bottom line. In turn, this can help make a business more sustainable and competitive.
Heating alone can account for almost 60 per cent of total energy costs in hotels, while according to the Carbon Trust, an average of 25 per cent of electricity costs can be attributed to lighting. From both an environmental and cost perspective, it’s little wonder that establishments install energy-saving LED lighting, use thermostatic controls on radiators and utilise technology like key card power activation systems.
Equally, in a country renowned for its rainfall, perhaps we take water for granted. Yet even a tap mistakenly left running can waste several litres of water per minute. Low volume flushing toilets, water-saving showerheads and motion-activated taps are simple but effective solutions to reduce water waste.
Waste regulations too can help focus minds on the need for greater efficiency. By reducing food waste, Scottish businesses could save over £190 million per year. Again, staff must be educated how food waste arises and the effective steps to reduce it. As a business, we measure any food waste and calculate its cost. Equally, sourcing fresh produce locally can support a hotel’s aim to maximise freshness and reduce energy costs associated with food miles.
Much can still be done, but as an industry I’d suggest we are increasingly ‘plugged in’ to means of effectively reducing our energy footprint and empowering guests to share in a common goal to protect the wider environment. Achieving sustainable stays is good for guests and business.
Richard Mayne is cluster general manager for G&V Edinburgh and Radisson Blu Edinburgh