The Long-term Impacts of Fukushima on Hotels & Tourism Worldwide

By Steven Ferry Chairman, International Institute of Modern Butlers | September 18, 2011

Is it or isnít it?

Fukushima.

Is it a non-issue for all but those living around the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, as governments and obliging media have been saying; or are the meltdowns spreading invisible tentacles of radioactive death around the world, as some are insisting and others are wondering, a sense of unease at our prospects for the future. How, then, would these tentacles impact hotels and tourist destinations as news radiated into the consumer consciousness and people changed their eating and travel habits?

Well, sorry to disappoint those who like a good drama to chew on, but the government and officials happen to be right on this one, once the science is understood.

PR mishandlings have resulted in (mostly unnecessary) loss of hospitality business in Fukushima and surrounding areas, including Tokyo; but no impact has been felt in other countries (with one exception, which has seen a big pick- up in business); and no future impact is to be expected from the feared-by-some collapse of all living systems.

If you had doubts about which way it would go, read on, put them to rest: There are enough real issues in life without being distracted by invented ones.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: The Greening of Your Bottom Line

There are strong moral and ethical reasons why a hotel should incorporate eco-friendly practices into their business but it is also becoming abundantly clear that “going green” can dramatically improve a hotel's bottom line. When energy-saving measures are introduced - fluorescent bulbs, ceiling fans, linen cards, lights out cards, motion sensors for all public spaces, and energy management systems - energy bills are substantially reduced. When water-saving equipment is introduced - low-flow showerheads, low-flow toilets, waterless urinals, and serving water only on request in restaurants - water bills are also considerably reduced. Waste hauling is another major expense which can be lowered through recycling efforts and by avoiding wastefully-packaged products. Vendors can be asked to deliver products in minimal wrapping, and to deliver products one day, and pick up the packaging materials the next day - generating substantial savings. In addition, renewable sources of energy (solar, geothermal, wind, etc.) have substantially improved the economics of using alternative energies at the property level. There are other compelling reasons to initiate sustainability practices in their operation. Being green means guests and staff are healthier, which can lead to an increase in staff retention, as well as increased business from health conscious guests. Also, sooner or later, all properties will be sold, and green hotels will command a higher price due to its energy efficiencies. Finally, some hotels qualify for tax credits, subsidies and rebates from local, regional and federal governments for the eco-friendly investments they've made in their hotels. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document how some hotels are integrating sustainable practices into their operations and how their hotels are benefiting from them.