Tourism and the environment

To a holidaymaker, a tourist experience is often about fun and relaxation, but from a business perspective, the tourism industry is a heavy hitter. The size and growth of the industry is responsible for 1 in every 11 jobs worldwide, and contributes 10 per cent to global GDP – an economic contribution that is critically important to many nations around the world, including Australia.

The celebrated economic contribution of the tourism sector comes as a substantial environmental cost. The industry generates eight per cent of all global greenhouse emissions and contributes up to 12.5 per cent towards global warming.

Tourism also produces more than 35 million tons of solid waste annually – a staggering amount. At an individual level, catering to a single guest for one night requires, on average, 300 litres of fresh water.

The challenge for tourism and hotel operators is how to reduce their environmental footprint without affecting guest satisfaction or their bottom line.

How to save money through sustainable practices

  • concept graphic of chef and food and drink

    Carbon emission levels on food menus

    Nutritional information is available for the food we eat, so what about informing customers of the carbon emission cost of their food? We experimented by putting simple visual guides on a burger menu to gauge customer interest.
  • Dining setting

    Reusable cotton or single-use paper?

    What's the difference between paper serviettes or laundered cotton napkins, both to your bottom line and the environment? And will a change affect your customer satisfaction rating?
  • dinner plate with cutlery

    Ways to reduce plate waste

    Can gamification reduce waste in your hotel? Our researchers found that adding activities to meal times could greatly reduce buffet plate waste (and add lots of fun for young guests).
  • Bathroom with towels

    Incentivising towel reuse

    How do you convince guests that your sustainable practices are about more than just your bottom line? By implementing guest incentives, both parties benefited from small changes in behaviour. And now you and your guest can celebrate successful change together.
  • concept graphic for cleaner, cleaning items

    Room cleaning

    What does it cost to clean 17 million rooms worldwide? After experimenting with the standard operating procedures in a 3-star hotel, the research team were able to alter the frequency of room cleaning without negatively affecting guest satisfaction.