Sustainable and Organic Market Analysis & News

Hospitality and Events


Being close to consumers, the hospitality sector (events planning, hotels, tourism, restaurants) are susceptible to environmental pressures and also are in a position to take advantage of any emerging green consumer trends. While eco-tourism has carved out a niche for conservation-minded tourists, the wider industry has begun to adopt environmental issues, led by the hotel sector which in the 1990s began to create and adopt environmental standards. Currently a hot topic within the hospitality and events sector is the idea of create a “carbon neutral” experience for the customer. This can encompass travel companies offering passengers the option of paying for carbon off set in their ticket. Event organisers and venue owners are increasingly under pressure to offer carbon neutral services, primarily to business customers who are under pressure to demonstrate their low carbon emission practices.

Role of standards within the market

Despite a group of green hotel and tourism standards emerging in the last decade or so, the idea has not proved to be hugely effective in either marketing or reputation protection. NGOs such as Greenpeace have criticised many such standards/schemes as being superficial and not addressing the key environmental impacts of resorts and hotels, namely energy and water use and land conversion. In the niche of eco-tourism, standards and schemes remain important as a means of informing their customers, who are by nature environmentally aware and curious, of their credibility. Perhaps the key issue at present for the hospitality and events sector is carbon emissions and this is the focus of standardization at present.

Leading standards

The largest number of standards relate to eco-tourism and are mostly specific to location. Similarly for hotel standards. In 2009, British Standards Institute launched the world’s first standard specifically related to sustainability in the events sector, BS 8901. Many BS standards have formed the basis for international (mainly ISO) standards and the ISO events standard has nominally been termed ISO 20121. The COP15 Climate Change meeting in Copenhagen has become the highest profile environmental meeting to gain certification to BS 8901. A much larger and complex event which is aiming for BS 8901 certification is the London Olympic Games in 2012. In February 2009, the London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) published its sustainability guidelines for all opening and closing ceremonies and the games themselves.

Some useful links are as follows.

Sustainable Travel International

Responsible Travel Report

International Eco Tourism Society

The Most Eco-Friendly Vacation and Travel Spots messaging