Tourism accommodations have a new international standard to strive toward in terms of environmental responsibility. ISO 21401, a new international guidance for accommodation facilities, specifies the environmental, social and economic requirements for implementing a sustainability management system in tourist accommodation. It addresses ecotourism issues such as environmental protection, water and energy consumption, waste generation, health and safety for employees and guests, and human rights.
Tourism is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economic sectors – numbers are expected to grow by 3.3 % annually until 2030, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization – and accommodation is one of the biggest players.
Manuel Otero, Chair of the ISO technical committee that created the standard, said there are many initiatives in the market that accommodation providers could use to help them improve their environmental practices, but none that integrate the social and economic aspects as well, or are free from commercial interests. That lack made it difficult for facilities to know how to meet their sustainability goals and requirements.
“This internationally agreed standard provides clarity in a confusing market, applies to all types of accommodation and can serve as a tool to improve sustainable management,” he says.
He believes it will also help to stimulate the market for more sustainability in both the accommodation sector and the tourism and ecotourism industry as a whole.