The Growing Role of Sustainability in India’s Hospitality Industry
As a country that witnesses close to 10 million tourist arrivals every year, India’s travel industry is a multi-million dollar economy that continues to grow every year as evidenced by the increasing number of hotel and flight ticket reservations to the country.
However, with the growing demand for travel, there’s been a global outcry toward achieving sustainability in the tourism industry as well.
Sustainable tourism implies minimizing the negative and maximizing the positive effects of all forms and activities of tourism on the environment while fostering economic growth as well.
Let’s take a look at the growing role of sustainability in India’s hospitality industry as evidenced by the growing range of ‘green’ offers.
Eco-tourism is gaining momentum
The people of India are increasingly aware of the influence of tourism on the well-being of the country and the population.
After all, it’s common knowledge that around 8% of man-made CO2 emissions are associated with tourism.
The three key words in relation to sustainable travel are the protection of cultural and natural heritage, environmentally friendly action and support for the local population.
Mass tourism is increasingly giving way to eco-tourism, with the protection of nature and the local population being the priority.
As such, more and more travelers are looking to go on sustainable holidays and trips. Fortunately, sustainable travel is steadily gaining ground reflected by the growing range of offers from the hospitality industry.
Staying with the locals
So what exactly constitutes sustainable accommodation? Apart from nature conservation, one of the most important characteristics of sustainability is the support for the local population.
Traditionally, large hotel chains are established abroad with little to no consideration for the local Indian population as well as the environment.
From this perspective, hotels with local owners and workers can be considered sustainable as they contribute to the local population and keep nature from being disturbed. Apart from locally-owned hotels, there are other options to sustain and empower the local economy.
A prime example would be homeowners in the peaceful village of Kumarakom, Kerala, opening their doors to tourists.
Here, guests spend their vacation in local accommodations instead of popular hotel chains. The revenue then goes directly to the families owning the accommodation.
In the long run, it is hoped that this type of sustainable tourism will reduce the demand for commercial hotels.
By staying with the locals, guests are allowed to admire nature, taste local food, and essentially get glimpses into an authentic Indian life while also learning a thing or two about eco-tourism in India.
Another category of accommodation that is becoming increasingly popular is eco-resorts. The local population maintains these accommodations mostly outside the big cities, whereby all the necessities of life are obtained from the immediate vicinity.
The food comes from local farms, which shortens the transport route, and the energy is mostly generated by solar panels.
The structures are typical of the local architecture and these resorts typically have their own systems for collecting and using rainwater.
Green hotel development
Green hotel development is also gaining momentum within India’s hospitality industry. Various certifications such as IGBC, ECBC, LEED, and others are being granted to hotels and resorts observing green building parameters.
It has to be said that the perception of green buildings being more expensive still hinders adoption by the Indian hospitality industry as a whole.
But due to the progress being made in construction technology, an array of low-cost options for constructing eco-friendly buildings and structures are now very much available.
With the Indian government providing various incentives for the adoption of sustainable structure designs and practices, it’s highly likely that the role of sustainability will only grow and prove vital within the Indian hospitality industry.
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