If the pandemic opened the eyes of many about the importance of sustainable tourism, mine have been wide open since the beginning of my travels. Today more than ever, the hospitality industry has a duty to the environment, which has been threatened and destroyed for decades by mass tourism. After seeing for myself how populations are affected by irresponsible tourism and need to protect their heritage in order to offer future generations a livable world, I came to the conclusion that we all need to do something about it quickly, and together.
A New Way of Traveling
I’ve seen numerous magazine stories stating that travel has changed, and they are quite right. More than discovering a hotel or a brand, today’s travelers are looking for something truly unique that is slower, more thoughtful, and much more personal. To me, luxury is less about “things” and more about experiences. It’s about careful craftsmanship, inspiring people, fascinating cultures, and untamed landscapes. On trips like these, we can be more mindful. How a resort impacts its surrounding environment and nearby communities should always be a key factor in choosing a destination.
It’s about careful craftsmanship, inspiring people, fascinating cultures, and untamed landscapes
Tourists want to get under the skin of a destination and learn about its food, history, people, and culture. They want to travel with a sense of purpose and are increasingly conscious about how their tourism dollars can positively or negatively affect the place they’re visiting. We have already witnessed this in our hotels. When I was in Vietnam last month, for example, I met a Vietnamese couple at Zannier Hotels Bãi San Hô who decided to visit us to learn more about their own country and get closer to the local community.
With this shift in traveling in mind, here are some ways to become a more responsible hospitalier.
Connect with Local Culture
As passionate hospitaliers, we have the privilege of discovering and connecting with local communities, providing travelers the opportunity to experience a destination in the most beautiful ways possible. For example, wandering through the small markets with a local chef will give insight into the way local people really live. To me, empowering local communities is just as important as choosing a destination. We should be able to help the village or even the country in which we develop our projects and keep that in mind while creating it.
Often, sustainability is seen as something unreachable and far too complex for a company to apply at a big scale. The truth is, even the biggest companies can put sustainable solutions in place, step by step. Let’s start with aiming to leave a positive footprint in the places we operate in, from sustainable construction to eco-conception, predominance of raw materials, responsible waste management, use of local techniques, and empowerment of the local workforce. Sustainability has to be present from the start to the end of a hotel creation in order to be efficient, and has to be planned ahead of construction and be integrated all along the process.
Today, it has never been more important to help preserve the environment and wildlife after the Amazon rainforest burned for months. Each and every one of us has a responsibility in this catastrophe, and I believe COVID-19 is just another consequence of our carelessness. The effects of COVID-19 have had an enormous impact on tourism and especially secluded or hard-to-access locations, which rely so much on tourism to survive. For instance, Africa-based conservations, much of which are driven by ecotourism, are struggling to make ends meet. An idea would be, when possible, to simply travel to destinations living from tourism to help them recover.
Today, it has never been more important to help preserve the environment and wildlife
In the meantime, we must all continue our hard work of preservation and reintroduction to ensure the land and wildlife remain protected, even more so right now with the lack of tourists. I encourage everyone who wishes to make a difference during these challenging times to help their local food banks, for example, by donating homegrown vegetables, fruits, or any ingredient that is not suitable for guests in terms of aesthetic, instead of throwing them away.
Arnaud Zannier is founder and CEO of Zannier Hotels.
Want more insight from our C-Suite Thought Leaders? Find all their pieces here.