Thailand is the first country to adopt the UNESCO Sustainable Travel Pledge, a pilot initiative under a larger partnership between UNESCO and Expedia Group.
A year after the launch of the UNESCO Sustainable Travel Pledge in Thailand, more than 500 hotels have signed the pledge to eliminate single-use plastics and promote local cultures that can be found in many popular tourist destinations nationwide.
Under the pledge, hotels are required to detail the actions they are currently engaged in and initiatives they are planning to carry out in pursuit of sustainable tourism.
The UNESCO Pledge focuses on five issues:
- Conserve water: In many areas of the world, clean water is in limited supply and drought is increasingly an issue. Hotels can help safeguard this key resource by installing low-flow showers and toilets, using rainwater and graywater in smarter landscaping, and implementing a policy of linen and towel replacement only when requested.
- Reduce waste: In our high-consumption society, waste continues to be a sizeable problem, including inefficient packaging and use of food. Hotels can boost their efforts in recycling and composting and donate leftover produce or meals to local charities.
- Engage with the community: Sustainable tourism enables communities that attract tourists to thrive. The Pledge includes a commitment from hotels to support their location by hiring residents, sourcing and growing produce nearby, and exhibiting or selling local art and handicrafts.
- Conserve energy: By reducing carbon emissions and preserving natural resources, properties can lower energy use and operation costs. The pledge asks them to improve by using renewable energy, automated and LED lighting, and smart tech for climate control.
- Reduce single-use plastics: According to UNESCO, the worldwide hotel industry uses 150 million tons of single-use plastics each year. Plastic waste kills 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million seabirds annually. Hotels can help by using ecofriendly options for such single-use plastics as tiny toiletry bottles, cups, bags, single-portion condiment packs, and straws.
Many hotels that have successfully adopted the pledge say they support communities by sponsoring environmentally friendly events in their respective areas.
So how do you find out if the hotel you’re considering is part of the sustainability pledge? That’s where Expedia comes in. The booking site announces pledge membership right above the hotel’s name.
The next step of the UNESCO initiative involves encouraging more accommodations to adopt the pledge, initiating additional actions that protect the environment, and implementing measures that better promote community products and identities.