Environmental management in the hotel and lodge sector in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
The tourism industry has emerged as one of the key economic drivers in Africa and remains as one of the few growth industries in the world. The industry has well-documented, significant socio-economic and environmental impacts, many of which are not positive and result in enduring problems at destinations. This is particularly acute in countries such as South Africa where socio-economic inequities are high and historical patterns of development have resulted in most people being marginal from the tourism sector. The accommodation sector is one of the main players in terms of tourism and benefits the most from this industry. However, very few studies have critically examined this sector in terms of environmental management. It is the lacunae in the research that this study aims to address. The main objectives of the study were to investigate the nature and extent of environmental management in hotels and lodges in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The primary data collection was undertaken via the use of surveys to 60 accommodation managers and 400 hotel guests. In-depth interviews were also undertaken with key tourism industry stakeholders. The main findings of the research indicated that although participants were aware of the detrimental environmental impacts of the accommodation sector, environmental management programs were very much in its infancy. Hotel managers were enthusiastic about environmental management but were unable to implement environmental programs and actions due to a number of challenges and constraints. Environmental issues were also not a high priority for hotel guests in the study. The study concludes that environmental issues in the accommodation sector needs to be re-examined and measures need to be put in place to address the sector’s negative impact on the environment.
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