Cutting the impacts of luxury accommodation and travel
According to International Luxury Travel Market, a body that promotes upmarket travel, the luxury sector is growing at more than 10 per cent a year – more than double that of the mainstream travel sector. But so are its environmental impacts.
The latest issue of Ecos magazine investigates whether the mainstream luxury hotel sector is keeping up with increasing consumer awareness of the environment, which is now spurring growth of five-star ecotourist facilities, such as Voyages’ Kings Canyon resort at Uluru and its Cradle Mountain Resort in Tasmania.
At the moment, Australian luxury hotels are not subject to regulations governing the sustainability of their operations, and the majority of operators could be doing more to improve environmental efficiency.
However, 30 Melbourne hotels – including five-star establishments – have signed up to a City of Melbourne voluntary environmental auditing scheme to help them reduce their energy, water use and environmental footprints.
Based on the use of a software tool called Earthcheck developed by the Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre, the scheme is providing an efficiency framework that will also cut costs.
Earthcheck incorporates indicators that measure a hotel’s performance in areas such as energy use, water consumption, waste production, resource conservation and commitment to the local community.
Ecos 136 also reports on the environmental impact of air travel, particularly business-related travel.
The Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics predicts that greenhouse gases from domestic aviation will reach nearly 110 megatonnes by 2020 – one of the fastest growing contributors to transport-related emissions.
For many Australian companies, air travel accounts for more than 50 per cent of their greenhouse gas emissions.
Nevertheless, companies such as Westpac are leading a push towards ‘climate neutral’ operations. Westpac has achieved 45 per cent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions since 1996.
Other stories in Ecos Issue 136 include:
Australia’s aquaculture advantage: Aquaculture has become a $A100 billion global industry providing 50 per cent of the world’s food fish. While Australia is currently a small player in the world market, it is setting high standards for the quality, environmental rigour and innovative research of its aquaculture industry. This focus on sustainable systems that minimise pollution and disease – along with successful stock-breeding programs for species such as prawns, abalone and oysters – should enable Australia to safely expand future production with minimal impact on habitat and wild stocks.
Council of achievers: Through a range of international campaigns and support programs, a Canadian-based network, the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, has empowered local governments in 67 countries to engage business, industry residents and wider levels of government to seize the sustainability initiative. In Australia, 218 councils, representing 82 per cent of the population, have embraced the initiative, which led to the abatement of 2.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2005–06.
The nappy changers: This year, Australian parents will throw away one billion used disposable nappies, each taking up to 300 years to decompose. With a life cycle that involves considerable environmental impact, it was inevitable that an eco-friendly solution to the global nappy stream would emerge. What’s more, it’s Australian-led.
Reconnecting wild places: Key environment organisations are collaborating to secure conservation reserves in south-west Western Australian and coastal NSW, ‘reconnecting’ the natural landscape. The Gondwana Link project in south-west Western Australia and Kosciusko-to-Coast in New South Wales will secure the future of unique and threatened landscapes and wildlife. The Gondwana Link project will form a 1000-km arc of bushland from the wet karri forests of south-west WA to the edge of the Nullarbor.
ECOS MAGAZINE – Issue 136 is available at major national newsagents or online at: www.publish.csiro.au/ecos
ECOS is a bimonthly colour subscriber publication covering environmental and sustainable development issues relevant to Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.
- The latest issue of Ecos magazine investigates whether the mainstream luxury hotel sector is keeping up with increasing consumer awareness of the environment, which is now spurring growth of five-star ecotourist facilities, such as Voyages’ Kings Canyon resort at Uluru and its Cradle Mountain Resort in Tasmania
- Ecos 136 also reports on the environmental impact of air travel, particularly business-related travel