Eco-travel is gaining traction. A recent survey revealed 87 percent of global travelers would prefer to travel sustainably. Although sustainable travel covers a lot of things, 46 percent of the respondents said it meant eco-friendly accommodations. You can cater to this market need by starting an eco hotel, one of the most innovative and sustainable green business ideas for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Discover the field of green tourism and learn why starting an eco hotel is a good idea, as well as how you can go about doing it. With this guide, you’ll be familiar with the concept and requirements of sustainable hotels in no time.
What is Green Tourism?
Green tourism is an umbrella term referring to tourist operations who aim to be as environmentally friendly as possible. However, the term garnered a bad reputation when unscrupulous businesses marketed themselves as green without actually putting in any effort to reduce their environmental impact.
Green tourism still applies to environmentally friendly business, but there are a few other terms you may encounter. These terms aren’t interchangeable and have different connotations you may want to remember when marketing an eco hotel.
Ecotourism is a term for tourist activities in natural areas that aim to converse these places as well as sustain the culture and well-being of local populations. Ecotourism differs from green tourism in that the former is more focused toward wildlife preservation and conservation. This doesn’t apply to an eco hotel, unless the hotel is situated in a wildlife setting. Examples of ecotourism companies can offer minimum-impact rainforest tours in South America or education safari rides in Africa that employ locals.
Sustainable tourism is a more inclusive term where in businesses attempt to balance between the economic, socio-cultural and environmental facets of developing a tourist attraction. A sustainable tourist business not only tries to reduce its impact on the environment, but it also ensures local communities are treated fairly. Sustainable tourism covers eco hotels and similar accommodations. Some organizations offer hotels and hospitality establishment certificates to prove their sustainability.
Depending on where you plan on starting your eco hotel, you may consider working with ecotourist attractions in the area. You can also make your hotel a sustainable tourist location by checking out the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. This organization offers businesses training modules as well as certification audits to ensure you stay with acceptable standards for being a sustainable business.
Now that you understand the difference between these terms, you can now learn about eco hotels.
What is an Eco Hotel?
Eco hotels, also known as green hotels or sustainable hotels, is a form of sustainable business that aims to reduce the carbon footprint and environmental impact of a hospitality enterprise. Entrepreneurs looking for lucrative green business ideas often open eco hotels because of their booming market and responsible operations. An eco hotel can achieve these goals through a number of ways.
Do you want to explore the world of green tourism? Are you curious about how to start a green hotel?
Here are a few of the strategies to employ to conserve resources and protect the environment.
Food and Dining
Eco hotels can aim to reduce wasting perfectly good food and help local farmers and providers flourish. Some ways you use to slowly make your hotel’s food and dining operations more align with sustainable business practices include the following:
- Keep food portions and servings within reasonable size. This will help guests consume everything on their plate and reduce waste.
- Purchase ingredients from local food growers and providers to encourage economic development. Buying food from local providers also reduces carbon emissions involved because the food won’t have to guzzle a lot of fossil fuel to get to your hotel.
- Find organic farms or other sustainable food businesses and form partnerships for supplies. This will help strengthen businesses with similar practices in your area as well as being cost-effective.
- Serve your food on re-usable dishes instead of single-use plastic or paper flatware. Re-usable dishes won’t be tossed into the trash and end up in landfills and are more affordable in the long run.
Truly sustainable hotels extend their green tourism practices to their housekeeping and amenities. Some of these practices are also used by people aiming to reduce waste in households.
Your eco hotel should implement the following methods:
- Provide your housekeepers with non-toxic cleaning agents for cleaning and disinfecting guest rooms. These non-toxic alternatives can be just as effective without being as harmful to the environment or people.
- Use linens made of 100 percent organic materials such as cotton. Towels, sheets and blankets made of cotton last longer and can be more comfortable than their artificial or polyester counterparts. Some eco hotels may use beddings made of bamboo fibers, which are more environmentally friendly and sustainable.
- Encourage guests to re-use towels instead of having them washed daily. This will reduce water consumption as well as decrease the mount of chemicals used, such as detergents and bleach.
- Buy organic soaps and shampoos in bulk. Organic products use little to no artificial chemicals and buying them in bulk isn’t just cost-efficient, it also means your hotel produces less plastic waste from wrappers.
- Another green business idea your hotel can employ is stocking up guest rooms with amenities made from natural products. For example, bamboo toothbrushes are manufactured with fewer environmental impacts than plastic counterparts.
Perhaps the best way to ensure your establishment belongs with sustainable hotels is to use alternative energy sources and reduce consumption of valuable resources. Some significant ways you can accomplish this includes the following:
- Install photovoltaic volts so your hotel can run on solar energy instead of drawing power through the main energy grid. The benefits of increasing the amount of solar energy your hotel uses include reduced energy consumption from fossil fuel plants to getting tax credits for your business.
- Use energy-efficient lighting throughout the hotel. These types of lighting use less energy, which means your utility bills are also reduced, making them a cost-efficient choice.
- Recycle your eco hotel’s graywater, which is the water used by baths, laundry and kitchens. Graywater can be used to water your hotel’s lawns and gardens, reducing your establishment’s freshwater consumption.
- Following these sustainable tourism guidelines can ensure your eco hotel receives certification. One program that provides both building guidelines and certification is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which is piloted by the U.S. Green Building Council.
All these requirements and strategies may seem excessive if you just want to start a hotel. So why should you implement them?
Why Start an Eco Hotel?
Hotels have an enormous impact to the environment. Just take a look at how much energy and resources the hotel industry in the United States consumes in a single year.
- Hotels in the US pay more than $7.5 billion on energy bills
- They produce over 1.9 billion pounds of waste
- Bathrooms and pools in hotels consume more than 219 billion gallons of water
The environmental impact of hotels can’t be understated. Starting a green hotel helps give this industry traction, showing other entrepreneurs that it’s a profitable alternative. Employing sustainable practices in hotels will also go a long way in reducing large-scale waste disposal challenges. If more and more hotels cater to green tourism, the entire industry may change for the good of the environment. Eventually, perhaps more businesses will use green business ideas and further reduce the collective harmful environmental impact.
If for nothing else, opening your hotel is a lucrative business opportunity since there is a big demand from travelers to stay in eco hotels. Catering to their needs can put your business on the map and ensure you have a steady stream of customers.
Eco hotels are a great idea, whether you want to conserve the environment or start a successful business venture. Invest today in the sustainable hospitality industry and you can secure not just your financial future, but the future of the Earth as well.