India will have a population with an average age of 34.7 years by 2036. This data is important as this age group is the most defined, aware, and independent.

This group wants to explore newer places and have better experiences regardless of the amount of money they have.

But this generation is also conscious and aware about what it wants to do and how an experience must be. It also shuns companies or brands that are known to disregard the community’s well-being.

Especially after the pandemic, ‘sustainability’ has become the new mantra.

This has permeated the hospitality sector around the globe, too. According to reports, tourism contributes around 5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions — a figure which is expected to grow by 130 per cent by 2035.

So, sustainability is less of a desire and more of a need at this moment. The hospitality industry needs to look for means and ways to grow together by creating better and unforgettable experiences but at the same also reduce the carbon footprint.

In the post-pandemic era, where social distancing has become a norm, the Indian hospitality sector is moving towards putting in place sustainable tourism management practices. There is greater focus towards creating environmental friendly options. It is turning towards adopting sustainable and eco-friendly practices to deliver sustainable experiences.

Some of the focus areas for the hospitality industry this year should be reducing water consumption and greenhouse emissions, saving energy and reducing waste.

Apart from this, brands have also strengthened their endeavour to phase out single-use plastic, resulting in eliminating huge amounts of plastic.

Greater usage of solar energy should also become a priority for the industry so as to contribute its bit to energy conservation. Compostable or retheusable alternatives are also being increasingly adopted.

Pandemic impact

While the pandemic has left the hospitality industry badly dented, it must make a come back that not just leaves it stronger but more fruitful for itself and the communities it serves. Health health and safety of the planet must be a key priority. Having said that, people need to opt for responsible tourism.

The tourism industry, along with the government, is working towards policies to make tourism more sustainable. But this message must reach across the hospitality sector value chain.

Mant travellers want to give back to the destination and the community there. Livelihood support to the local community has assumed even greater importance due to the pandemic. Every guest must have the opportunity to create a positive social and environmental impact.

Every step the industry takes must be towards a sustainable future. Sustainable hospitality can only become a reality if the entire industry comes together and works towards reducing the environmental and societal challenges by exploring newer ways and means, solutions and strategies on developing places and experiences that are eco- and people-friendly.

The writer is Senior Vice President & Global Head Human Resources, IHCL