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Luxury travellers are demanding sustainable tourism, and hotels are stepping up

Article written by Lijee Philip in the Economic Times

Raas Chhatrasagar is a luxurious, 16-tent resort that sits in the middle of an artificially created forest spread across 1,500 acres near Jodhpur in Rajasthan. It is home to over 250 species of birds and is a destination for glampers. “Travellers are increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of their travel and are associating with brands that are mindful of it,” says Nikhilendra Singh, founder of Raas Hotels, who is now busy welcoming tourists from Canada and England to his property.

For the guest who feels guilty about soaking in a bathtub and wasting too much water, there is salve for the eco-sensitive soul. The wastewater, the owner assures them, would be treated and released into the nearby fields. Luxury travellers are demanding not just a room with a view but also tourism with a conscience—and hotels are stepping up with ecofriendly and sustainable practices.

The concerns of travellers have expanded from pool and shopping to include climate change and local produce. The environment-conscious travellers are increasingly looking for a destination and stay that allow them to decrease their ecological footprint.

This shift has become more pronounced after the pandemic, which has brought forward the concept of sustainable tourism by three or four years in India.

With domestic and international tourists demanding sustainable practices, tour operators are promoting local cuisine, zero plastic and water recycling as part of the package. Till now, many hotels saw sustainability as an add-on; not anymore.

Travel lighter

According to Booking.com’s Sustainable Travel Report 2021, 83% of global travellers think sustainable travel is vital, with 61% saying the pandemic has made them want to travel more sustainably in the future. 81% of travellers want to stay in a sustainable accommodation in the upcoming year, which is a notable increase from 62% in 2016 and 74% in 2020, just prior to the pandemic.

Another survey by Singapore-based online travel agency Agoda.com found that nearly 40% of travellers are willing to spend an extra $10 a night to sleep in a sustainable resort.

Says CB Ramkumar, vice-chairman and regional director, South Asia, Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC): “India should not have to follow any country for sustainability in general and sustainable tourism in specific. It is part of our DNA. We have just forgotten some of it. All that the tourism industry needs to do is follow the sustainability criteria that the Global Sustainable Tourism Council has developed.” These include economic, social, cultural and environmental sustainability. These standards of the GSTC align with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the UN. Ramkumar adds that cultural sustainability is gaining prominence as even middle-class travellers want to cherish life experiences more than ever.

Read the full article by Lijee Philip in the Economic Times: Luxury travellers are demanding sustainable tourism, and hotels are stepping up (October 16, 2022)