A Study of Environmental Impacts, Environmental Awareness and Pro-Ecological Initiatives in the Hotel Industry
Abstract: Throughout the millennia commercial lodging establishmentshave evolved to what is today known as the hospitalityindustry. Hotels constitute one of the main, and stillexpanding, pillars of this sector and are highly unique amongother commercial buildings. They are designed to providecomfort and services twenty-four/seven. The success of tourism,and indirectly the hotel industry, largely depends on theavailability of a clean natural environment. At the same time,the environment is the major recipient of negative impactscreated by the construction and operation of hotel facilities.For many years, the industry was very reluctant to admit itsinfluence on the natural surroundings, but recently attitudeshave started to change.An e-mail based survey of environmental attitudes has beenperformed among more than 4000 European hoteliers, yielding 610responses. A similar questionnaire has further been distributedamong the guests of chosen hotels resulting in 141 answers fromfour Scandinavian hotels. Surveys revealed that both Europeanhoteliers and Scandinavian hotel guests perceive theenvironment as an important factor in the development andsuccess of tourism. Hoteliers are typically aware that theirfacilities influence the natural surroundings, a view sharedalso by hotel patrons, although the magnitude of the impacts isoften underestimated. Hotel managers and staff do have acertain (though varying) level of environmental knowledge andare generally aware of measures that can be taken towardsgreater environmental responsibility.Despite the fear shared by many hoteliers, thatenvironmental practices may negatively affect customer comfortand satisfaction, more than 75% of hotel guests interviewedexpressed their support and willingness to participate in manysuch initiatives. As hotel patrons are gradually demanding?green alternatives?, hoteliers are becomingincreasingly motivated and willing to take steps towardsgreater environmental responsibility. Almost 25% of hotelguests interviewed declared their willingness to pay more foraccommodation in an eco-certified facility.More than 70% of hotels investigated have already introducedpro-ecological initiatives, primarily in the areas of energyand water conservation, as well as responsible wastemanagement. The areas targeted are typically those, which canyield company benefits in a relatively short time.The results of the survey confirmed that the possibility ofa significant decreaseof the operational costs, and theexistence of an obvious and continuous customer demand, maylikely prompt hoteliers to respond with greater environmentalresponsibility. There is undoubtedly a great need for enhancingof education and environmental awareness among hotelrepresentatives and the general public. Given its profile thehotel industry can indisputably become a significant venue ofsuch education by communicating its environmental commitment tocustomers and inter-related industries.Keywords:hotels, environmental impacts, mitigationmeasures, survey, hoteliers, hotel customers, environmentalattitudes, environmental awareness, pro-ecological activities,incentives.
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