COVID-19: A stress test for sustainable development in hospitality?
— 22 experts shared their view
"Covid-19 is climate change on warp speed" (Wagner, Mar.10, 2020). The current pandemic has catastrophic consequences on the hospitality sector. The ways the industry currently deals with the crisis (for example, see: COVID-19 - Survival Guide for the Hospitality Industry) offers a glimpse into the crisis management endeavors in building a business case for disaster and climate resiliency. Climate emergency is not dissimilar to the coronavirus threat, whereby 'both demand early aggressive action to minimize loss" (Cobb, Mar. 12, 2020). However, with hotel companies facing an existential crisis, or large-scale downsizing, what will be left of the sustainability programs and initiatives once this pandemic is overcome? Will we be starting from scratch or is the coronavirus crisis the opportunity to implement a swift change in risk assessment and management facing the climate crisis? What are the key lessons from the coronavirus crisis on how to deal with the climate emergency?
Expert for Sustainability Communication & Founder at RoomFor
Certainly, we cannot look into the future, but various social science studies indicate that people find it difficult, especially in crisis situations, to recognize larger contexts and take measures that go beyond the symptoms of the current threat. Sustainability is still perceived as a sufficient but not necessary condition. Sustainability programs and initiatives are put on hold until the damage caused by the threat to livelihoods is mitigated at the economic level.
However, the current situation offers the opportunity to take a holistic approach to crisis and risk management. Developing measures to counteract problems such as climate change at an early stage (or at least the earliest as possible), thus enabling a long-term and successful business strategy to be implemented. If companies seize the opportunity offered by these difficult times to adapt their business model and risk management in such a way that creative solutions are generated to counter existential challenges, then the industry can emerge from this COVID 19 crisis stronger than before.