Hospitality operators have welcomed this week's landmark report on climate change as a dose of common sense, arguing it need not be a doom-and-gloom prescription for the future of the industry.
The Stern report, released on Monday (30 October), predicted the world would suffer irreversible economic damage unless it acted now to combat the effects of global warming.
Environment Secretary David Miliband is expected to propose a set of financial squeezes on motorists and air travellers to cut harmful emissions as a result, while Chancellor Gordon Brown wants a new Europe-wide target of a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
Martin Couchman, deputy chairman of the British Hospitality Association, said this could benefit UK operators. "If people travel abroad less because of the cost of an air ticket, it could serve our domestic product, which has plenty of capacity," he said. "However, we do need to ask ourselves if we are interested in attracting high-spending foreign tourists or concentrating our efforts on UK tourism in the future."
Matt Todd, project manager at the Centre for Environmental Studies in the Hospitality Industry, said the report reflected the realisation that there was an economic cost to environmental harm. "Perhaps we won't have cheap flights in the future but there are ways to offset damage to the environment such as voluntary reforestation schemes," he said.
Ann Corrigan, deputy chief executive of the HCIMA, which runs carbon emission reduction scheme Hospitable Climates, said government support was key. "More funding needs to be committed to getting the message across that wasteful practices will lead to the loss of customers," she said.
Operators are going green
• Gleneagles hotel in Scotland this week announced it was planning to introduce a "carbon levy" so its guests could help
reduce the impact of travel on the environment. The five-star resort said the money raised would go towards environmental projects that cut down the release of harmful greenhouse gases.
• The Punch Taverns-owned Golden Lion in Ashton Hayes, Cheshire, has revealed it is attempting to become the first carbon-neutral pub in England. Landlord Barry Conney is considering solar thermal panels on the roof, an increase in recycling and local sourcing to cut food-miles.
For more on green issues go to Caterer's Green Zone
By Chris Druce