Jon Bruno, executive director of, the International Ecotourism Society, discusses the push for sustainability within the hospitality industry.
Executive Director, International Ecotourism Society
Why are some sectors of the hospitality industry slow to adopt sustainable practices? What are hotels/restaurants biggest setbacks when deciding whether or not to switch to sustainable resources and how can they address it in a smart way?
All around the world I’m asked, “How do we start being sustainable?” The sector we see as the slowest to adopt sustainability is the mid-range “luxury” package market, such as the large beach hotel chains. This is gently changing though, and we hope there will be continued progress.
Often, tourism operators try to address too many problems at once and imagine that they need to become 100 percent sustainable in one project. Additionally, they try to go it alone without any planning help. Engage an expert, even if for a short consultation with management, and create a small project with achievable, measurable milestones. One successful project will create the courage for more.
How would you counter business owners in the hospitality field who believe that ‘upgrading’ to eco-friendly technology/appliances is a huge investment that requires a complete remodeling of infrastructure and is not worth the time or energy to replace?
Start small. Progress is progress. Engage an expert, and find something you can do as a pilot project to create success for your implementation team. There is always something that can be done. Even seemingly superficial initiatives, when widely adopted, can make a dramatic difference. Engage travelers and your community with your initiatives, and you’ll find a receptive group of friends to market and celebrate your initiatives and your success.
Exactly how important is it for sustainability to be a part of an organization’s core business strategy?
Sustainability is a basic principle of business that means, ‘We care for our resources.’ A business that practices sustainability is thinking long term and is thinking about its place in the community and the world. Sustainability is a key part of good stewardship. Many factors contribute to success or lack thereof, but implementing sustainability means that a business is creating strength within itself and within the community it serves.