The adoption and implementation of environmental management systems in New Zealand hotels: the managers' perspective
Hotel businesses consume significant amounts of natural resources, expel large amounts of raw and solid waste and affect the sustainability of the natural environment in which they are developed and operate. To reduce the negative impact on the environment, the hotel sector worldwide has embarked on a course of implementing environmental management practices or a much formal tool called environmental management systems (EMS), an innovation which has been profoundly promoted to offer additional benefits to its adopters. Among various environmental issues that have been addressed, greening in the New Zealand hotel industry is rarely investigated. To better understand the environmental efforts of the New Zealand accommodation sector, this study sought to achieve four main objectives: to determine New Zealand hotel managers’ awareness of environmental management system (EMS); to identify sustainable programmes that have been implemented in New Zealand hotels; to explore the hotel managers’ understanding of the benefits associated with the adoption and implementation of EMS and to identify hotel managers’ understanding of the possible barriers associated with the adoption and implementation of EMS. To achieve the objectives of this study, the researcher employed a quantitative survey approach through which environmental management systems in the accommodation sector of New Zealand were examined. The data was collected through a postal questionnaire distributed to 41 hotels that agreed to participate in this research, out of which 36 hotels were involved in completing the survey. In total, 94 hotel managers participated in this study, representing 36 hotels from different parts of New Zealand. The key issues analysed in this study were environmental practices, awareness of EMS, reasons (motives), benefits and constraints for adoption and implementation of EMS. Hotels that participated in this study showed greater involvement in energy, water and waste management practices than hotels examined by previous research in different geographical areas. It was further noted that New Zealand hotel managers have a limited basic understanding of the term EMS, and this may be an indication that EMS is currently not being widely used as a management tool, but rather as an approach or framework for implementing environmental practices. This research provided some of the first practical evidence about New Zealand hotel managers’ perceived benefits and barriers of implementing EMS. The managers in New Zealand showed greater commitment towards environmental safety and conservation and indicated it to be the greatest motivator for implementing EMS. However, in this study similar benefits were identified as compared to previous research where marketing and cost saving opportunities were highly acknowledged. The study identified two main barriers for the implementation of EMS. These barriers are implementation cost and lack of supporting technology. It was indeed surprising that lack of human resources and no potential benefits were rated as a less important barrier of EMS.