World-first results: EarthCheck Certified program delivers ROI for tourism industry

A world-first study of more than 1,000 hotels shows tourism businesses who systematically manage their resource use through the EarthCheck Certified program can save tens of thousands of dollars from their bottom line annually.

Companies who committed to the program achieved an annual reduction in use of water by as much as six percent, electricity by as much as seven percent and waste disposal by as much as fifteen percent. Some tourism businesses generated almost US$200,000 per annum in electricity savings over a seven year period.

Led by Griffith University’s Professor of Sustainable Tourism Dr Susanne Becken, the study analyzed historical data from 1,047 businesses participating in EarthCheck’s global certification and benchmarking program between 2007 and 2013.

EarthCheck works with some of the leading lodging, leisure and tourism groups in the world including Banyan Tree, The Peninsula, Commune, Taj, Sandals and Grupo Vidanta.

Professor Becken said these businesses entered the EarthCheck Certified program hoping to improve their operational performance; and they did.

“Our research revealed the biggest drop in consumption was in the first few years of membership, and businesses continued to sharpen their reductions and deliver benefits after several years in the EarthCheck Certified program,” Professor Becken said.

“Annual hotel operational costs for electricity and water use and waste disposal are often in the order of US$500,000 to US$1,000,000 and our analysis shows that all resource savings result in sizeable financial savings,” she said.

The scientific confirmation validates the work of EarthCheck’s CEO Mr Stewart Moore, who has made it his 25 year mission to encourage the tourism industry to measure and reduce its environmental impact.

“EarthCheck’s operations and programs are driven by the concept ‘what gets measured, gets managed’,” Mr Moore said.

“Government and tourism industry operators have often rejected benchmarking and certification because it takes time and resources to implement, and until now it has been difficult to fiscally quantify benefits over any time period,” said Mr Moore.

“This research proves the tourism industry can make a difference both to the environment and to their operational overheads.”

The EarthCheck Certified system has been used by properties worldwide since 1999. It is now used by more than 32 sectors of the tourism industry in over 70 countries worldwide and has become the world’s leading benchmarking and certification program. The system helps businesses and destinations measure resource use, increase awareness of resource saving opportunities and motivate staff and residents.

“If the environmental footprint made by the world tourism industry was compared to the footprint of a country, tourism would be the fifth biggest polluter worldwide. Action needs to be taken,” he said.

“We may not be able to get governments to make changes, but we can cut across borders and influence the tourism industry globally to tread lighter. We can now show that taking action at a site and precinct level will also save money,” Mr Moore said.