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Green Movement Grows in Global Hospitality Industry: Report

Ernst & Young examines the eco-friendly efforts of hotels and resorts in eight regions of the world, finds progress in the greening of the hospitality industry and identifies 10 areas in which the business could do better.

"Since 1987, when the concept of sustainability was first mentioned on a coordinated international platform with the release of the UN-sponsored Brundtland Commission's 'Our Common Future,' the movement towards sustainability has expanded across the globe," the report said.

"Governmental and nongovernmental organizations, corporations and consumers are increasingly focusing on the need to exist in harmony with their surroundings and reduce their environmental footprints. The hospitality industry is no exception, and finally, the concept of sustainability has begun to gain momentum in this sector."

Ernst & Young's 16-page report
, released this month, takes a look at the lodging industry's environmental policies and practices in Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, India, Latin America, the Middle East, Oceania and the U.S. during 2008 — gives a precis on each.

In general, the report said research found that "hotel companies are increasingly encouraging environmentally friendly practices and embracing sustainability through both developmental and operational strategies ... the 'greening' of the industry is a trend that is here to stay.

"Over the last decade, the movement towards ecologically sound tourism has swept across the globe; and the practices being implemented are as diverse as the different geographies," the report said. "Hotel companies are being prompted by rising energy costs, government pressure, consumer expectations and the competitive landscape to increasingly make sustainability a top priority."

Researchers saw growth in Earth-friendly attributes and amenities in luxury lodgings throughout the areas examined. The degree to which such practices were in place for other brackets of travel differed from region to region.

Highlights of findings from the various areas included:

o — In Asia in general, a strong focus on corporate social responsibility and "environmental harmony" among resort brands and boutique hotels.
o — A variety of different lodgings — luxury, business and economy — pursuing green strategies in Japan.
o — A target set in China for 10,000 green hotels by 2010.
o — A small-scale but increasingly popular move toward ecotourism in the Caribbean, where 57 hotels have received industry certification under the Green Globe standard — the most of any one region reviewed.
o — Green being considered a key differentiator in Europe among boutique hotels; tour operators and agencies favoring environmentally responsible lodgings and brands.
o — Vast green luxury resorts and the world's first zero-carbon, zero-waste city planned in the Middle East.

Drawing on the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Green Globe Program as a resource, the report said that points on which the industry could take further action include:

o — Waste minimization, reuse, recycling
o — Transportation
o — Energy efficiency, conservation, management
o — Land-use planning and management
o — Management of freshwater resources
o — Involvement of staff, customers, communities in environmental issues
o — Waste water management
o — Design for sustainability
o — Hazardous substances
o — Partnerships for sustainable development

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