World Tourism Day 2023: 3 ways tourism and hospitality can invest in a green future and head towards sustainability

Boulders Beach in Cape Town is a perfect example of a symbiotic relationship man and penguins connecting in a sustainable way on a shared space. Picture: Unsplash

Boulders Beach in Cape Town is a perfect example of a symbiotic relationship man and penguins connecting in a sustainable way on a shared space. Picture: Unsplash

Published Sep 27, 2023


As the world commemorates World Tourism Day 2023, the focus is on “Tourism and Green Investments”.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) investments are one of the key priorities for tourism’s recovery and future growth and development.

UNWTO highlighted the need for more and better-targeted investments for people, for the planet and for prosperity.

The international organisation for tourism said that now is the time for new and innovative solutions, not just traditional investments that promote and underpin economic growth and productivity.

Currently, hotels account for approximately one percent of global carbon dioxide emissions but fortunately there is a growing trend of more eco-friendly hotels around the world.

For instance, Sun City has installed a R16 million solar plant to reduce electricity consumption from the national grid and from a sustainability perspective, the solar plant will see Sun City reduce its annual CO2 equivalent emissions by an estimated 2 510 tons per year, which is just one example of a positive contribution the hotel is doing to mitigate against climate change and head towards net zero emissions by 2050.

According to Corporate Traveller GM, Bonnie Smith, sustainability has been a hot topic in travel for a while, and hotels are seen as the main culprits for gobbling up energy, however, she said that prioritising sustainability in hotels can lead to significant progress in achieving ESG and sustainability goals, given the impact hotels have.

While the broader tourism industry needs to focus on changing traveller behaviour and offering more sustainable travel options, Smith said these are 3 ways travellers and travel management companies can invest in a green future and make travel more sustainable.

Assess your supply chain for eco-friendliness

Smith said that it's a good idea for hotels to closely examine their supply chain and ensure that their preferred suppliers align with their short-term and long-term sustainability goals.

“Go for hospitality providers that care about saving energy, using eco-friendly products, and reducing plastic,” suggested Smith.

Choose sustainable hotels

Smith said that when it comes to selecting the hotels you want to work with or stay at, give a thumbs-up to properties that follow local or national sustainability guidelines.

Smith suggested looking for hotels that are doing their part for the environment.

“FCM Consulting can help you find suppliers who share your green goals during the Request for Proposal process,” she said.

Strike the right balance

Sustainability is important but shouldn't come at the expense of service quality or traveller satisfaction.

Smith advised travellers and travel management companies to find hotels and chains committed to sustainability without compromising on travel experience.

She further said that whether you are travelling for business, leisure or bleisure, make sure to check out the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance's recommendations for evaluating hotel sustainability.

“This will empower you to choose hotels or partner with suppliers who offer tools to track your carbon emissions,” she said.

Smith added that investing in better hotel selection is crucial, for it shapes our environment, communities, and the future of travel.

“Let's recognise that where we choose to stay is a powerful investment in creating a more sustainable and responsible travel industry for generations to come,” she concluded.