Don't just reach for the renewable source

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionSend to friendSend to friend
Solar energy is renewable for as long as the panels last

Jeremy Smith has raised important points on tourism’s slow steps towards renewable energy in his article, our challenge though requires much more progressive steps if we are to meet the Paris Agreement goals. He raises the important point that tourism fails to match other industry sectors in making a commitment to renewable energy.

I would like to build on this and propose that firms should actually buy less renewable energy to replace current energy levels by first saving energy, then changing behaviours (wasteful practices) and then taking up renewables. This would enable us to share what renewable resources there are with others and recognises that renewables like solar will last only for some decades before they are replaced.

Secondly, by saving water we will save energy (required to move and clean water).

Third, by cutting waste, including the current level of 20% food waste (wrap), we would save energy used to make things and grow food (and reduce methane). To achieve this I argue that our goal ought to reframe what is meant by hospitality. Move it from wasteful lavishness to one of high quality professional personalised service (employing more people) which can customise and control resource use.

This, of course, is not a new idea; this is the origins of the host-guest exchange (where the host sort to control visitors and shared what resources they had, not what they couldn't afford to lose). This vision seeks to reverse trends in tourism which increasingly rely on automation and standardisation to one that increases our ability to finesse services to what the planet can afford to offer.

This is a different road and one which should promote our strongest asset, the people in tourism, who should be trained in delivering a more sustainable experience with the guests’ health and happiness at its heart, not price led consumption which relies on current cheap energy, water and waste disposal which are the causes of much pollution.

We should, therefore, be investing in human resources now, rather than waiting for technologies of the future and designing new sustainable hospitality experiences that give us a competitive advantage and brighter prospects.