ESG and hospitality

In recent years, sustainability has emerged as a central topic, not only at the level of institutions, but as a theme that is permeating various human and corporate activities, becoming a central aspect of everyday choices.

Given these premises it is clear how sustainability is permeating various human activities, establishing itself as a central aspect of the choices of individuals and companies. As a consequence, it is also affecting the hospitality sector and its operations and processes.

In fact, today tourism and travel represent an extremely relevant sector that has experienced a process of extraordinary growth in the post-pandemic period. Specifically, international tourism doubled (+130%) in the first five months of 2022 (compared to the same period in 2021), and in the first seven months of 2023 there was a +19% increase over 2022. In Italy, it appears that in 2022 the sector recorded revenues of just under 200 billion (9.4% of national GDP) employing 2.9 million people (or 12.5% of the national total).

These aspects thus make hospitality a sector closely linked to the social, economic and environmental well-being of many countries and which can have a significant impact on climate change.

Specifically, the Travel & Tourism (T&T) sector was identified as the industry responsible for about 10 percent of global CO2 emissions, which, increasing by 5 percent each year, will reach 8.4 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions in 2030 unless there are significant adjustments and changes in direction. In addition, the International Tourism Partnership found that in order to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement, the hotel industry should commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent by 2050 (based on 2010 benchmarks).

Awareness of this situation, coupled with the United Nations’ recognition that sustainable tourism is required to achieve goal number 8, has led to greater sensitivity on behalf of both consumers and operators.

The Sustainable Travel Report conducted by Booking.com, based on 2022 data, found that 78% of travellers intend to stay in an environmentally sustainable accommodation.

Considering this evidence, operators in the industry are adopting several best practices such as decreasing food waste, reducing water consumption to the necessary minimum, eliminating plastic, decreasing energy consumption, creating paperless hotels, and integrating sustainability into building design.

Today there is an increasing number of hoteliers using tools to prove and certify their sustainable practices. The main means to measure sustainability performance include the ESG score, ISO Certified Management Systems, SA800 certification, and the EU EcoLabel. There is also the sustainability report, which serves to update internal and external stakeholders regarding the organization’s performance against the sustainable development goals.

However, in order to succeed in achieving true sustainability, a productive collaboration between operators and consumers is fundamental.