By Hasnain Noorani
Responsible Tourism calls for hoteliers to abandon single use plastics within their establishments. This noble move could to a larger extent pivot Kenya to a high rank in the attainment of the globally accepted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the year 2030.
Plastic pollution is impacting our waters and marine life, as well as our food chain and the public health at large. Every single day, the equivalent of a truckload of plastic enters into our oceans. In the name of profit and convenience, single use plastic manufacturers are literally choking our planet with a substance that does not just “go away” when tossed into a bin.
Since the 1950s, some 8.3bn tons of plastic have been produced worldwide and to date, less than 10% of that has been recycled. Our oceans bear the brunt of our plastics epidemic up to 12.7m tons of plastic end up in them every year.
Continued expansion of tourism and hospitality business along the beach line has come at a cost to the marine environment. Stakeholders in tourism and hospitality industry must therefore be in the forefront in addressing the declining health of marine ecosystem to ensure the long-term sustainability of its economy. Nations have in deed rallied around the mammoth pressures facing our oceans and waters, from plastic pollution to the impacts of climate change. At the same time, there is global recognition that we need to develop our waters in an inclusive and sustainable manner for the benefit of all.
Excessive waste and in particular plastic have been much in the news lately, prompting a growing number of hotels and resorts at the Kenyan coast to take steps to eliminate single use plastic items case in point the PrideInn Group of Hotels. This has been in the quest of achieving a sense of responsible tourism which formed part of the Blue Economy Conference held in Nairobi late last year.
Tourism and hospitality industry has a huge environmental impact – from the millions of miles delegates have flown to attend events to the reams of paper squeezed into bulging delegate bags and the kilowatts of energy used to light exhibitions and displays around the world. Now green culture is taking hold and hospitality stakeholders are thinking carefully about environmental impacts, becoming keen to show their sustainability credentials.
Plastic waste has remained to be one of the biggest threats to the world’s oceans. In fact, according to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), more than 8 million tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean each year, this is equivalent to dumping a garbage truck of plastic every minute. Plastic waste harms marine ecosystems and causes adverse impacts to human health. Responsible tourism should aim at addressing these plastic issues.
Holiday makers’ image of environmentally sustainable accommodation has tended to encompass luxurious eco-lodges, those little cards that encourage you to reuse your towels and bedding in hotel rooms and not much in between.
For Tourism and hospitality industry, it is very essential to protect our environment i.e. Environmental Sustainability. So we can automatically sustain the hotel industry. The hotel industry is correctly managed in protected areas, and it can become an effective instrument and an economic resource towards conservation. The main factors affecting an organization in its effort to improve its market share involve hoteliers, consumers and employees in ways that contribute to an ecofriendly environment.
Stopping plastics getting into the oceans in the first place will require a huge change in consumer behavior and product design — fueled by a global commitment by governments and business to phase out non-essential single-use plastics, particularly for packaging and make it easier to recycle remaining plastic waste.
Responsible tourism should aim at addressing what businesses and governments as well as individual holiday makers can do to minimize the negative impacts of tourism, while maximizing the positives. A key element is the breadth of issues it considers: not just the environmental effects, but also economic, social and cultural outcomes.
The writer is the Managing Director and Founder of PrideInn Group of Hotels