One of the major findings of a recent study at Stellenbosch University (SU) shows limited finances and the comfort of guests are among the factors preventing the tourism accommodation industry from using scarce resources more sustainably, despite their best efforts. “The tourism accommodation industry is keen to adopt practices for the sustainable management of water and electricity but the high initial capital outlay and running cost of most sustainability initiatives, limited financial capacity to provide the resources (funds, manpower, and time) required to implement initiatives, and the comfort of guests stand in its way,” says Dr Love Idahosa a postdoctoral researcher at the School of Tourism and Hospitality at the University of Johannesburg.
Idahosa explored the understanding, perceptions, and preferences of key decision makers in the tourism accommodation industry regarding the management of water and electricity resources and environmental sustainability. Here she focused mainly on establishments in Cape Town and Stellenbosch. Idahosa also looked at the drivers of electricity consumption by using data on the daily energy consumption of 22 hotels across the country. This data was sourced from the Energy utility company Power-Star in Durbanville. In addition, she set out to identify the key challenges in terms of the adoption of sustainable practices in the accommodation industry.
According to Idahosa, owners, managers and operators in the tourism accommodation industry are quite aware of the issues. “They understand the meaning and applicability of environmental sustainability to their industry,” she said. “They were, however, constrained by the financial implications of such sustainable practices (environmentally sustainable practices can be quite expensive), and most especially by the concern for not negatively interfering with the comfort experience of their guests.
Idahosa says the Department of Tourism and the Tourism Grading Council should jointly promote sustainability incentives to encourage operators in the industry through subsidies for renewable energy and water saving devices, low-cost pricing for efficient energy (and water), adjusting the current star grading system to award extra grades for sustainability initiatives, or assisting the industry with staff training in sustainable hospitality.
This is an edited extract from an article first published on Bizcommunity.