Tourism's Future Leaders: Preparation for Responsible Leadership through Responsible Travel

By Louis D'Amore Founder & President, International Institute of Peace through Tourism | February 15, 2010

"Almost everything that is great has been done by youth" - Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister, Statesman and Author.

As I begin to write this article, North Korea has just proclaimed to the world its scientific achievement in successfully testing a nuclear bomb - serving as a reminder as to how events half way around the world affect us here in the United States and persons in other regions of the world. It also serves as a reminder of the challenges facing future leaders.

Speaking in the mid-1980's, the late Buckminster Fuller stated that the last 15 years of the 20th century would be a period when humankind would be taking its final exam.

One wonders - with the events of 9-11 in the first year of the new century - whether he would give us a passing grade.

Leaders of the 21st century will be shaping policies and making decisions as they live through and experience what will likely be the most significant paradigm shift in human history. A paradigm shift with key demographic, economic, ecological, and geo-political dimensions.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.