COVID-19 Hotel Heroes for supporting the environment
The pandemic presented many challenges and concerns for those of us working in the sustainability arena. The necessary COVID-19 prevention measures resulted in a sudden global escalation in the production and disposal of single-use items such as masks, gloves and wipes. There was a spike in energy and water consumption due to various washing and sanitisation measures that were required, along with an increase in the use of environmentally hazardous substances such as bleach to carry out cleaning tasks that previously involved products that were less harmful to biodiversity.
When travel almost came to a halt in March 2020, thousands of hotels all over the world closed their doors and the focus was almost entirely on business survival, leading to concerns that environmental matters would be put to the back of everyone’s minds. However, Travelife Certified hotels continued to show concern for their environmental impacts.
Our 2020 COVID-19 survey showed that over 93% of hotels were concerned about how the pandemic would affect their ability to work towards their environmental goals, with 99% saying that they wanted special support from us in terms of how to manage sustainability alongside the important COVID-19 hygiene standards they had to comply with, or during long-term closures.
We quickly responded through the development of the Travelife COVID-19 Operational Guidance Kit that was peer reviewed by UN Environment and the ABTA health and safety team. This guide included advice, tips and ideas that helped hotels maintain strict COVID-19 prevention measures whilst minimising waste, energy consumption and the use of environmentally hazardous substances.
We also included a checklist for hotels that had closed to helped them ensure that food was not wasted, energy and water consumption was minimised, and that they were caring for any animals that were dependent on them. Finally, our guide contained tips and ideas for looking after the welfare of their staff and community.
We were pleased to see many hotels around the world using this guide to implement more sustainable transmission prevention measures, and we were extremely proud that the support we offered hotels resulted in us being a 2020 WTM Responsible Tourism Awards winner.
Although 94% of all Travelife Certified hotels surveyed were closed between March and June 2020, 89% said they still took actions to maintain their environmental commitments. All of these properties are heroes in our eyes and here are just two examples.
Limak Limra Hotel & Resort, Turkey
Located in Antalya, Limak Limra Hotel & Resort found a way to reduce the use of single-use wipes and mini hand sanitiser bottles by providing guests with cloth handkerchiefs that were soaked with an alcohol-based sanitiser. These were just as effective as the disposable wipes yet staff were able to collect used handkerchiefs from guests then put them through a sanitising laundry cycle so they could be safely reused.
Like many properties, they removed their self-service buffet to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, using staff to serve food instead and leading to a drastic reduction in food waste.
Alcudia Garden Aparthotel, Spain
Composting food waste generates over 90% less greenhouse gas emissions than decomposing food in landfill, so we were pleased to hear that Alcudia Garden Aparthotel in Mallorca didn’t let the pandemic stop them from continuing work on an important composting project. In 2020, despite the business challenges they were facing, the property fully implemented a system to ensure that food waste generated from buffets and kitchens is collected and composted for use by organic farmers. This was a result of a pilot project they began in 2016 and the property is now an example of circular economy best practices that other hotels in the Balearics can look to.