Eco-resorts vs. mainstream accommodation providers: an investigation of the viability of benchmarking environmental performance
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Per capita energy and water consumption figures of five fully accredited eco-resorts were benchmarked against 11 hotels, 13 condominium complexes and six caravan parks located in three major tourist destinations in Queensland, Australia. Somewhat surprisingly, it appears some eco-resorts fail to achieve above average standards with respect to these dimensions of environmental performance. The most efficient resource consumption outcomes were evident where resource use efficiency was factored in at the early stage of resort planning. A noteworthy observation was that none of the businesses investigated could provide data for waste and wastewater production. The problems of developing a benchmarking process for the consumption of water and electricity by accommodation providers are discussed. A major obstacle was found in the fact that consumption rates are influenced by a multitude of site specific characteristics such as age of building, building size and layout, nature of operation, extent of communal facilities, climate, etc. With such a large number of factors affecting energy and water consumption, one is drawn into the problem of how many benchmarking groups need to be developed in order for benchmarking accommodation complex resource consumption to be a meaningful exercise. This also renders problematic the development of environmental compliance accreditation criteria. The study's findings renew concerns about the focus of some industry administered green accreditation schemes and the emphasis placed on their role as a key instrument for promoting more sustainable outcomes for the tourist accommodation sector.