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Perseverance Essential in Protecting Environment
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Beijing Youth Daily, one of the capital's major mass-circulation papers, reported on Tuesday that leading hotels in Beijing have resumed supplying disposable articles such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, combs and slippers.

This means that they have turned their back on the pledge made at last year's launch of the "Green Hotel Campaign." And it's the second time that such a "campaign" has ended in failure, said the paper's report, pointing to a similar case in 2000.

As far as these failures are concerned, some hotels blamed the demands of their guests, while higher operating costs were to blame in other cases.

This may be true, but it also shows these hotels have not worked hard enough to fulfill their promise.

Going "green" is not a public relations tactic to lure customers, nor should it be a short-cut to reduce management costs.

It should not have been restricted to a "campaign," an operation or series of operations that only have a short-term goal. Going "green" should be more than this. It should become a way of life.

Hotels have a duty to take the lead.

In the past, the hotel business was considered a non-polluting industry. But in actual fact, the building of hotels and their operation in the country's booming tourism trade has already caused great concern by damaging the environment of many scenic areas.

Meanwhile, hotels have turned out to be major energy and water consumers and equally major generators of waste.

Beijing's star-rated hotels, of which there are more than 600, guzzle 80 per cent of the total electricity consumed by the hotel sector in the Chinese capital. Meanwhile, these hotels generate 4,000 tons of waste from disposable items and account for 10 per cent of the city's total water consumption.

As the number of tourists increases every year, their energy and water consumption as well as garbage production will continue to soar.

Hotels have an opportunity to contribute significantly to saving power and water and reducing waste generation when they adopt environmentally friendly practices.

In fact, Beijing has assured the world that the 2008 Olympics will be "green." To this end, it has already announced specific guidelines for hoteliers to improve their infrastructure and installations.

By late April, 109 of Beijing's hotels had already signed "green" agreements with the Beijing Olympics' organizing committee.

Meanwhile, the China National Tourism Administration on March 23 issued the national standard for hotels that hope to call themselves "green," requiring them to promote recycling and reducing power and water consumption.

It will take time for all the people tourists included to embrace this ideal and change their way of life accordingly.

But hotels should not sit back and do nothing. And it is even worse when they abandon what they set off to do.

They have many ways to help their customers join the effort to go green.

For instance, they can place promotional leaflets in hotel rooms, helping their customers understand why they should use disposable items as sparingly as possible.

They should have persevered with the campaign and only distributed disposable items whenever customers specifically requested them.

Meanwhile, the media should not simply report the failure of hotels to keep their "green" promises as the fault of hoteliers and their customers.

They should call on the public especially every traveler to adopt a green way of travel, to help protect the earth upon which our livelihood depends.

(China Daily June 1, 2006)

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