Holiday seekers in the new millennium are confronted by countless choices with regards to responsible use of the earth´s resources during their vacations: eco-tourism, sustainable tourism, sustainable transport, green recreation... Whether this summer´s plans are taking you to the next town or the next continent, think about the impact of your holidays on the environment. Efforts are underway around Europe to help people understand options for "green" travel and tourism at both the industry and consumer levels. Many are part of the European Commission´s Sustainable Energy Europe Campaign.
Hotel Energy Solutions (HES) is a programme to reach out to professionals in the tourism sector and in particular to provide the smaller hotels across Europe with support to help them improve their use of energy. Led by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the project is also supported by the United Nations Environmental Programme, the European Renewable Energy Council, and the French Environment and Energy Management Agency, ADEME.
Almost half of the world´s hotels are located in Europe. According to the UNWTO, hotels are one of the tourism industry´s largest drivers of employment and economic revenue. But they also use a lot of energy and emit 21% of the total CO2 emissions from tourism. Their energy efficiency and use of renewable energy technologies is far below its real potential, with the majority of hotels relying on older, less efficient equipment. This is particularly true for hotels in the small to medium-sized business sector, which accounts for 9 out of 10 hotels in Europe.
The HES programme was launched in 2008 to promote information exchanges between smaller hotels, hotel suppliers and manufacturers of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies. Through its education efforts, it is also raising awareness of energy use and efficiency improvements among hotel managers, staff and travellers. Starting in late 2008, the HSE team is working hard to achieve, by early 2011, the commitment and firm action plans of at least 800 smaller hotels and 150 local authorities from across the European Union.
Part of the European Commission's Sustainable Energy Europe Campaign, Hotel Energy Solutions is working with a number of leading European destinations such as Palma de Mallorca, capital of the Balearic Islands. As an HES pilot destination, the city has the chance to become both greener and more competitive by receiving training from Europe´s leading energy and tourism agencies.
The role of the Sustainable Energy Europe Campaign is to encourage, promote and showcase projects, practices and initiatives which lead to a new, integrated understanding of habitat, where renewables and energy efficient solutions play a fundamental role in improving the welfare of European citizens. Find out more on www.sustenergy.org.