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From Niche to Necessary: Why The Eco-Hotel Is Going Mainstream

By Julie Cheetham Founder & Managing Director, Weeva

The times they are a-changin’ goes the song, and indeed they are.

The writing is on the wall for many brands and industries around the world that, if they don’t adapt quickly to new consumer demands and expectations, they could fall out of favour.

Today, people – and particularly younger generations – are conscious of the impact their activities have on other people, the natural environment and on biodiversity. They are conscious about avoiding another Easter Island extinction scenario where obsessive consumption of available resources would trigger a domino effect of deforestation, deterioration, and pollution, resulting in an increased risk of pandemics, conflict, insecurity, and cultural collapse. In short, today’s generations are wise enough to shy away from overusing the finite natural resources we have in order to avoid a worst-case scenario similar to that of Easter Island.

Today’s up-and-coming generations are driven by the impact their activities have on their communities, the natural resources they use, the places they visit, or the cultures they encounter. In fact, recent studies suggested that Gen Zs and millennials are willing to pay more for products and services that don’t deplete natural resources, don’t pollute, and don’t have a detrimental impact on local communities and wildlife.

The concept of sustainability stands at the heart of this consumer behaviour. Sustainability, a term that might have been alien to many industries a few decades ago, is now a driving force behind a growing number of corporate strategies and decisions. Many industries, companies, and brands are hurling themselves into the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives race, making sustainability an integral part of their daily operations.

The hospitality industry is not immune to these dynamics. The winds of change are blowing in its direction too. Hotels and the tourism industry have an intrinsic relationship with the natural environment, local biodiversity, and the local communities and cultures they are in direct contact with. What attracts tourists to visit a certain destination and stay at a nearby hospitality facility is often affected by the human activity resulting from these visits. Yet, tourism and hospitality can often pose a major threat to biodiversity, wildlife, and indigenous cultures and can place significant pressure on local communities and on their well-being and livelihoods.