By Georges Panayotis
Desperate times call for desperate measures. The planet is overheating and each and every one of us plays a role in this battle against climate deregulation. The French government wishes to be a forerunner leading the battle to preserve our ecosystems. In the meantime, hoteliers can do their share of the job and participate in the attack, but for that to happen they need some concrete assistance that is useful and can be mobilized.
Of course, there are measures to promote the energy transition but they are not enough, the hotel loan is capped at 400,000 euros for example, a drop in the bucket when it comes to the expenses that go into renovating or creating a property. Professionals in the sector did not wait for the government to make progress on these fronts. Reduction of energy consumption, waste reduction, insulation, the development of shorter circuits and the use of automation are all levers for substantial savings.
Sustainable development is a driving force for innovation, development and communication. The sector has everything to gain by rushing into the rift to become the flagship of an "ecologically correct" nation and showcase leading edge and attractive destinations. Hotels have long been forerunners in terms of housing, offering comfort standards and state-of-the-art facilities, but this period is over thanks to the democratization of consumer products. Investing in sustainable development will make it possible to regain the advantage and recover the "wow effect".
A great deal of progress has already been made, with operators, manufacturers and suppliers working together on new solutions. The "Village Nature" program developed by Pierre&Vacances Center Parcs near Eurodisney is a good example of the profession's desire to move towards increased sustainability. But what did it take to develop the complex? From the birth of the idea in 2003 to the laying of the first stone in 2014 and the official opening a few months ago – when it was originally planned for the end of 2016 – some 15 years passed.
The hotel industry is a highly employment-intensive sector, generating significant economic windfall as well as taxes. Our sector faces competition from digital companies that do not play by the same rules, and must go to war on unequal terms. The threat has also arrived on other fronts with the strong crises that have passed through several tourist destinations as a result of the terrorist attacks that have shaken the world. While the sector has come out of the slump in Europe, it has been weakened, undermined by months and months of declining activity. The machine has started again but will never be able to make up for months of shortfall. The decline in the hotel supply in France, while it is growing rapidly elsewhere in the world, gives rise to questions. Where will we house the 100 million tourists expected by 2020?
The government can rely on a dynamic and well-structured sector to anchor and grow sustainable development in the territory, but to do so it must invest the resources and firmly support the sector in this direction. As with any large-scale project, the key is to launch it and implement concrete actions to encourage the development of a hotel supply that will have fully completed its energy transition. The hotel business is not grass, which can be mowed at will and which always grows back. New seeds will have to be brought in and patiently watered to improve the image of France as a destination for tourists and make it more appealing.