Luxury hotels in the Caribbean donâ€™t do nearly as much as they should to protect the environment or promote economic growth, an entrepreneur from the tiny island of Dominica said the other day. â€œWeâ€™ve had the extension of the plantation,â€ said Samuel Raphael, a founder and owner of the Jungle Bay Resort and Spa. â€œThe crop has gone from sugar cane to tourism.â€ His property, unlike most, employs local people in high-skill as well as menial jobs, and seeks to purchase locally as well.
Have you thought about the social and environmental impact of your vacations? I certainly havenâ€™t, until recently. But the travel industry has an enormous impact on the environment and on the lives of people in the developing world. Unfortunately, itâ€™s only just beginning to grapple with the issues itâ€™s going to face. Thatâ€™s the topic of todayâ€™s CNNMoney.com column.
Hereâ€™s how it begins:
Travel is the world’s biggest business and one of its fastest-growing too. But hotels, resorts, airlines and cruise lines have been slow to grapple with the huge environmental and social consequences of what they do.
Sure, most hotels invite guests to hang up their towels, instead of having them washed every day. And many hotel rooms are now lit with compact fluorescent light bulbs. Cruise lines, meanwhile, are no longer dumping sewage and oily waste into the ocean like they used to.
But only a few hotels in the United States are certified as “green” by the U.S. Green Building Council. None of the big hotel chains, cruise lines or tour operators has published a thorough corporate responsibility report, with metrics, goals and timetable for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.
And while the “eco-travel” category is growing fast, no one can tell you with any certainty just what that means.
I wrote the column after spending half a day at an event called the World Savers Congress (really) sponsored by Conde Nast Traveler. I applaud the magazine for shining a spotlight on some big issues, although the conference was heavy on the blather and light on substance. Still, itâ€™s a start.
You can read the rest of the column here.