ITP discuss hotel supply chains at Responsible Tourism Event

Responsible Tourism Event May 2013

On 6th June, Professor Harold Goodwin ran a Responsible Tourism event in London that explored the topic: ‘Tourism, creating local economic benefit and paying for the landscape’.

International Tourism Partnership’s (ITP) director Stephen Farrant was delighted to be at the event to provide a perspective from the global hotel sector, alongside destination and sustainable tourism professionals. The day featured presentations on everything from using communications to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to evaluating the impact of local tourism.

At the event Stephen Farrant took the audience through a presentation on ‘Identifying the big issues in the supply chain of the global hotel industry and what to do about them’. The presentation highlighted that although we all know the arguments for buying local and that increasingly visitors want to experience local produce and products, complex global supply chains present significant challenges for multinational companies.

The hospitality industry has been addressing its own direct impacts on carbon, water and local economies for a long time now, and also recognises that the supply chain is a fundamental part of this. In the past the industry has had limited knowledge of where major environmental and responsibility risks and opportunities lay in the supply chain. However ITP’s working group on the topic is providing increasing clarity.

So far ITP’s working group on supply chains has:

  • Listed supply chain initiatives relevant for all member companies
  • Mapped supply chains to identify key risk areas assessed according to social or environmental impact, spend and likelihood in tackling and reputation risk
  • Identified cotton and seafood as high risk areas
  • Started collating information and resources on the above, alongside beef and palm oil
  • Conducted exploratory talks with organisations working on the cotton supply chain

When delving into supply chains more generally, some surprising facts emerge. For example, it is claimed that cotton accounts for a staggering 25% of the world’s water consumption. In hotels, food and beverage often contributes more to water consumption than laundry, swimming pools and bathrooms. An 8 oz steak uses 17 bathtubs of water and one cafe latte uses more than three (see China Water Risk). So, just as many clothes retailers, worryingly, didn’t know whether or not they were using the factory that collapsed in Bangladesh, most of us remain ignorant of what goes into supply chains we rely on every day.

Going forward ITP are:

  • Investigating how best to increase awareness of these issues
  • Commissioning with Cornell Centre for Hospitality Research a white paper defining a framework for evaluating the supply chain of an individual hotel
  • Developing research, guidelines and info sheets on SPECIFIC supply chain issues
  • Engaging with procurement teams
  • Identifying constructive collective action with suppliers

So watch this space for information we can share with the wider industry. In the mean time, the following articles on Green Hotelier may be of interest: Greening the Supply Chain and sustainable supply chains in hotels
For more information on the event go to Responsible Tourism Partnership

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