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Sustainability in the global hotel industry

Peter Jones (Business School, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, UK)
David Hillier (Centre for Police Sciences, University of South Wales, Pontypridd, UK)
Daphne Comfort (Business School, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, UK)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 4 February 2014




The purpose of this paper is to provide an exploratory review of how the global hotel industry publicly communicates its approach to sustainability.


The paper begins with an outline of the growing importance of sustainability within the hospitality industry and a short discussion of the characteristics of sustainability. The paper draws its empirical material from the most recent information on sustainability posted on the world's leading hotel chains' corporate websites.


The findings reveal that while there is considerable variation in the information the leading hotel chains provided publicly on their sustainability commitments and achievements, they embrace a wide range of environmental, social and economic issues. More critically, the authors argue that these commitments are driven more by the search for efficiency gains, that they are couched within existing business models centred on continuing growth, and that as such the global hotel industry is currently pursuing a “weak” rather than a “strong” model of sustainability.

Practical implications

The paper suggests that although the leading global hotel companies are well placed to take a leading role in promoting sustainability, they may need to extend their sustainability reporting and to introduce external assurance procedures.


The paper provides an accessible review of the sustainability agendas currently being pursued within the global hotel industry and as such it will interest academics, students and practitioners interested in both the hospitality industry and corporate sustainability strategies.



Jones, P., Hillier, D. and Comfort, D. (2014), "Sustainability in the global hotel industry", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 26 No. 1, pp. 5-17.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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