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?
Lecturer at IUBH International University
This pandemic will cost many lives and even more jobs, no doubt. Employees in numbers I would not dare to estimate will see their livelihood options diminish – especially those in countries, which do not have reliable financial safety nets. The fight against COVID-19 will stop many sustainable development efforts because available budgets will be needed otherwise. However, every crisis is also an opportunity: to measure exactly how drastic degrowth impacts climate change; to understand how far we can adapt socially to a less consumeristic lifestyle; to make us aware of what we actually need to feel at ease, connect with people and have a sense of escape from routine, without being able to travel to faraway places.
All of these insights might eventually shape a different and more sustainable tourism and hospitality industry. This greatly depends, however, on how we will approach the rebuilding of our industry – not least of all in terms of financial aid allocation. Sustainability must be at the heart of this effort. Otherwise, we are in for the bigger crises, the one we are unlikely to recover from any time soon as well as the crisis, which will cost significantly more lives: climate change. More than COVID-19 I fear a 'back to business as usual' after the crisis has passed.