New initiative aims to unite industry for sustainable hospitality

On the heels of the 26th Conference of Parties climate summit announcing 100 nations pledging to slash methane emissions, the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance (SHA), which brings together hospitality companies consisting 30% of the industry, this week announced the development of a Pathway to Net Positive Hospitality.

In support of the initiative, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has planned a sustainability framework accessible to the global hospitality industry. The Pathway, which is currently in the consultation phase, will be launched in March 2022, and has the crucial support of major hotel companies such as Accor, Deutsche Hospitality, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, IHG Hotels and Resorts, Marriott International, Radisson Group, Soneva and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.

The Pathway seeks to empower all hotels to improve their impact, irrespective of their starting point to the sustainability journey, and will comprise four stages with tools to guide the industry towards a regenerative impact on the planet. The initiative also aims to create a holistic, action-based approach for all hotels, regardless of whether they are independent or belong to a major international brand.

Wolfgang Neumann, chair of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, told HOTELS on Wednesday, “We are delighted to have the support of so many of the Alliance’s member hotel companies who are committed to working together to develop this Pathway for the whole industry. Net Positive means we aim to put more back into society, the environment and the global economy than we take out.”

Neumann added that the industry is still defining what this looks like, and welcomes the support of SHA members, the WTTC and other stakeholders to develop shared solutions to this challenge. “The intention is that this Pathway will be ambitious and set the vision towards which leaders in the industry can aim – while enabling every hotel to make significant and steady progress along the way,” he added. “It’s time to act for all of us and do more, regardless of where we are on the journey. As leaders we have a real responsibility to step up.”

Neumann said the dialogue needs to go beyond having ‘zero’ impact and look towards what the travel and tourism industry can put back into the natural world to ensure it has a lasting, positive impact on the planet and its people.

The WTTC will unite industry partners and major hotel brands to raise the global basic standard of hotel sustainability. The tourism body will also develop a set of fundamental sustainability actions for hotels, with demonstrable positive impact, especially for the businesses which are starting their journey.

Identifying the crucial role of hospitality value chain in achieving the vision, the alliance is launching an Affiliate Membership, which will create a forum for investors and asset owners to join hotel operators to maintain a consistent approach and advance sustainability of hotels.

Pledging his support to the industry collaboration, CEO and Co-Founder of Soneva, Sonu Shivdasani said, “As an industry, it is paramount that we work towards a net positive future and at Soneva we continue to pioneer a more sustainable solution. Our resorts have been carbon neutral since 2012, including indirect emissions such as guest air travel. We aim for half of our power supply to come from renewables by 2023 and to eliminate fossil fuels from our operations, including our own boats and planes, by 2030.”

Brune Poirson, chief sustainability officer at Accor, added, “Climate change calls for collaboration, not competition. We believe that working with our peers and partners from the hospitality sector is the most effective way to make substantial change happen. The pathway is an important step in that journey.”