"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?

Willy Legrand
Willy Legrand
Professor of Hospitality Management at the IU International University of Applied Sciences, Germany

'The courage to recognize what must be changed' (Diamond, 2019, 7). In a book published in 2019 called 'Upheaval: How Nations Cope with Crisis and Change', author and UCLA Professor Jared Diamond write that “successful coping with external or internal pressures requires selective change” (p.6), with a focus on the word 'selective'. Diamond argues that “individuals or nations under pressure must take honest stock of their abilities and value” (p.6). And thus, the challenge “is to figure out which parts of their identities are already functioning well and don't need changing and which parts are no longer working and do need changing” (p.6).

So here we are; a few months away from a potential start of recovery. And then what? Travel restrictions are being eased; local travel is slowly picking up; long-distance trips are still lagging behind but hotels are running at low, but steady occupancy. A chance to bet for the long-term; set the record straight and have the courage to recognize what must be changed. The Guardian will “no longer accept advertising from oil and gas companies” (29 Jan. 2020). What will our industry change wake up from this current chaotic situation?

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