Hoteliers should take ownership of sustainability

Philip Halanen

Adverse weather changes have never been more apparent than as we saw this year, from the water droughts across Europe, the devastating floods that were seen in Fujairah, not to mention the continued cataclysmic conditions of Pakistan, shows that the time is now to take action against climate change. There is a renewed focus from public and private stakeholders to conserve the environment.

We can see sectors now coming together to create a low-carbon future with minimal pollution and waste, where renewable energy powers our world and materials maintain value while cycling through a circular economy.

In this new post-pandemic era, hoteliers have a responsibility to be socially, ethically and environmentally aware and to promote sustainability as a purpose in all areas of business. Naturally, sustainability within hospitality is now something actively considered and sought after when choosing the next travel destination, hotel stay or even as a future employer.

This is already the case with UAE consumers, as reports suggest that 49 per cent of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable offerings. It is, therefore, a requirement to meet this growing demand by incorporating - and living - these values through business models, as well as in physical offerings. Of course, a truly sustainable hospitality industry cannot be achieved alone; it requires us as a collective to unite and work closely with partners, such as the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance (SHA), in order to build a more sustainable and inclusive future, where the purpose of travel is mutually beneficial for our planet and its people.

As an active member of the SHA, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is a part of 18 forward thinking world-leading hotel companies with a combined reach of over 35,000 properties and 5.5 million rooms, representing 30 per cent of the global hotel industry by room count. We have identified our responsibility to collaborate with the industry to collectively reduce impact and, as the world’s largest hotel franchising company by hotels worldwide, we have a unique opportunity to help make a meaningful impact on the world while making hotel travel possible for all.

Biodiversity is crucial for the health and functionality of all ecosystems and are collectively impacted by climate and water-related risks, human health and human rights. Through the adoption of a strategic vision focused on fostering a culture driven by purpose and impact at the core of the business, it includes long-term values and a set criteria to support the journey towards a more sustainable offering.

In the previous year, the Wyndham Hotels & Resorts ESG 2022 Report focused on four key themes that are the centrepiece of our strategic approach to ESG principles in the business: 1. A culture of diversity, equality and inclusion, 2. Supporting our communities, 3. Leadership in sustainability and 4. Protecting human rights. Looking ahead, in 2023, the upcoming COP-28 event set to take place in the UAE will channel a renewed sense of importance for sustainability in the hotelier community and among travellers. There will certainly be a growing focus on how the industry can unite to make meaningful change and turn it into meaningful value.

As the hospitality and tourism industry continues to evolve, the power in each of our purposes as hoteliers will continue to be driven by a growing demand for change in environmental, social and governance matters. At Wyndham, we remain firmly committed to making these changes and adapting to protect the environment in which we live, work and enjoy supporting in contributing to a brighter, more sustainable future for our industry.

* Philip is Head of Sourcing and Sustainability, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts EMEA