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Business Sustainability through Environmental and Operational Management in Five Star Hotels in Amman Jordan

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The focus of this study is to examine business sustainability through the management of environmental and operational practices of five star hotels in Amman Jordan. Environmental management is one of the most important areas gaining significant recognition among businesses all over the world. Attaining positive and favourable environmental and operational performance largely drives the activities of businesses. As indicated by Kirk (1995), the concern related to the management of environmental performance is mainly associated with industries such as tourism, which account for direct pollution from their business practices. However, during the 1990s the subject of sustainable and better operational environmental performance has led to the expansion of sustainability of business in various other industries. The hospitality industry is one such example, having faced significant concerns about managing the performance towards the environment and the need to adopt sustainable practices. Sustainable performance of business activities is highly essential for businesses whether in the manufacturing or services industry. This focus on sustainability is particularly significant in developing tourism and hospitality destinations. Developed and Developing economies have adopted environmental and operational management as a key focus of their hospitality and tourism enterprises. Europe in particular has a variety of globally recognized environmental schemes, and includes the European Eco-Management, the International ISO-14001, Audit Scheme (EMAS), and European Eco-label scheme.

Despite the tourism sector developing into one of the crucial and vast global industries, a 2003 United Nations DESA discussion paper raised questions regarding the rapid growth in number of tourists globally. The report states that detrimental socio-cultural and environment effects (Neto, 2003, p.5) accompany the increased tourist numbers. Similar sentiments were highlighted in a study by Monou et.al (2008z). The authors claim, although tourism offers a number of benefits to the host nation, which include significant contributions to local economies through job creation and investment opportunities, its fast growth has led to adverse social, environmental, and economic effects. For these reasons, global sustainability agenda is urgently required to curb particularly the local environment impact of the unprecedented tourist proportions. 

The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), (2005) recognized the need for global sustainability releasing important guidelines to regulate the growth and development of the sector. A more recent research by Ajjour (2012) on hotels and sustainability in Amman focused on analysing the sustainable performance of hotels. Ajjour identified that Jordan could face many challenges in trying to meet the growing concern for environmental needs if it failed to reduce the adverse impacts. Ajjour’s study provided a snapshot of the state of environmental practices in the Jordanian hotel industry but failed to provide a complete picture of the efforts that have been put in place to regulate the practice.

Sweeting and Sweeting (2002)  and Erdogan and Baris (2007) indicate that  the hotel industry accounts for the consumption of substantial quantities of energy, burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, water and non-durable products including food and beverages and this poses  a significant level of threat over environmental performance and contributes to global warming. The heavy consumption of natural resources in the hotel industry ultimately adversely influences the overall financial and sustainability performances of such industries. The environmental impacts in respect to the hotel incorporate site planning and facility management, excessive consumption of water and energy, and emissions into the air, degradation of water and soil and loss of natural habitat (Wyngaard & Lange, 2013).

A variety of perspectives and players will be considered when identifying stakeholders in the process of hotels and environmental management. The primary stakeholders in Jordanian tourism are the government authorities, the higher board of tourism, and private companies (Kempinski, 2013). A breakdown of the key stakeholders is highlighted below.

Figure 1: Main Actors and Stakeholders involved in developing tourism in Jordan.

Source:  Shdeifat, Mohsen, Mustafa, al-Ali, and al-Mhaisen (2006).

            Thus, the focus of the thesis is on analysing the operational and environmental performance of five star hotels across Amman Jordan. In relation to this, the thesis’ working title is “Business Sustainability through Environmental and Operational Management in Five Star Hotels in Amman, Jordan”. Data to be analysed will include ways in which Jordanian hotel business practices impact the environment, business, and operational initiatives taken by hotels to manage these impacts. For example, energy consumption is one of the major concerns in all five star hotels in Jordan. This is illustrated from large investments in state-of-the-art water, energy saving, and waste management technologies as well as initiating comprehensive action plans focused on nurturing unique cultural and environmental elements in each of the five star hotel’s locations (Global Travel Industry News, 2013).

1.1 Statement of Purpose

The purpose of this research is to investigate sustainable environmental performance in five star hotels in Amman, Jordan. The primary objective of the research is to determine the impact of business and operational practices of five star hotels in Amman.

1.2 Definitions of Terms

Terms that will be defined include:

  • Five star hotels
  • Operations practices in hotels
  • Sustainability (Operational and Environmental)
  • Stakeholder Theory
  • Strategic Management
  • EMS
  • EIA

1.3 Research Questions

The primary research question is:

  1. What business and operational practices are followed by five star hotels in Amman Jordan to achieve sustainable environmental performance?

Secondary Research Questions include:

  1. What are the levels of Awareness and Attitudes of Management and Stakeholders toward Environmental Sustainability Measures in five star hotels in Amman Jordan?
  2. How are environmental audits practiced by five star hotels in Jordan?
  3. By what operational means do five star hotels assess the performance of business sustainability?

 The importance of sustainable environmental performance is crucial for the hotel industry as a whole. For instance, recent statistics place tourism at the helm of fastest growing sectors across the globe (UNWTO, 2013).  The UNWTO report show the sector has witnessed rising tourist arrivals globally from 882 million in 2009 to over 1.04 billion by 2012.  According to World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) 2014 report, travel and tourism created approximately 1.8 million jobs in 2013, representing 2.5% of the overall employment globally. This jobs created includes airlines, travel agents, hotels, passenger and cargo transport services in addition to other tourist supportive industries such as leisure and restaurant services (pp. 3-14). In the Middle East, 10 year forecast indicate travel and tourism sector will create approximately 2,416, 000 jobs by 2024 equivalent to 3.1% growth per annum for the next ten years (WTTC, 2014).

 Therefore, when the concept of sustainable tourism is applied to a developing destination like Amman, it achieves particular value as Jordan battles to improve its economic status and establish itself as a tourism destination in the Middle East. According to the BBC Country Profiles, the Hashemite desert kingdom of Jordan has a pivotal role in the Middle East. Jordan’s lack of oil unlike its neighbours to the East and South means a reliance on phosphates and agricultural produce. Services, Tourism and Foreign Aid, of which the bulk is provided by the US, are the mainstays of the economy. Jordan prides itself on its health service, one of the best in the region and has a population of approx. 6.5 million people (UN, 2012 cited in BBC, 2013).

In Jordan, resort properties that operate in places like Aqaba, Petra and the Dead Sea are particularly vulnerable to environmental degradation and the loss of the natural environment. Umaima Al Majthoub (2008) notes worrying trends related to water, energy and land degradation related to the tourism industry in Jordan.  The importance of mitigating adverse impacts on the environment in which hotels operate is also gaining momentum (Sweeting & Sweeting, 2002). Further, as suggested by Molina-Azorin, Claver-Cortes, Pereira-Moliner, and Tari (2009), commitment towards the natural environment is an important variable within the current competitive scenario and environmental initiatives by organisations can lead to the attainment of competitive advantage and improved performance levels. There are various benefits possible through adopting sustainable practices, but the issue of long lasting threats include impacts on fragile eco-systems, flora, fauna and competition with local people for scarce resources especially energy and water. Hence, it is imperative that the government and hospitality providers manage environmental performance through sustainable practices ensuring the long-term viability of the tourism and hospitality industry.

            Berezan, Raab, Yoo and Love (2013) suggest that apart from environmental imperatives sustainable operational practices are equally important. In their view, consumers are highly aware of the business practices carried out by hotels and higher levels of consumer awareness with respect to environment conservation has further increased the level of pressure on hotels to perform in an environmentally friendly manner.  Global initiatives to manage environmental and climate change also mean that Jordanian hotels and the tourism industry, which are still in an infancy stage, need to develop their facilities and properties with a view to demonstrating their understanding and commitment to such initiatives and their national interests. Respecting the environment and methods of operation through compliance, benchmarking (Van der Wagen & Goonetilleke, 2012), and developing eco-friendly practises will not only achieve sustainability but can also be used as a unique selling point (USP) when advertising tourism in the Middle East.

            In summary, adopting best practices that foster protection of the environment combined with operational measures is crucial towards achievement of organisational and broader societal goals in Jordan. UNEP (2001) suggests that creating environmental awareness within an organization has several benefits both within and outside of the organisation. These benefits include reduction of the consumption of resources and, operating costs, compliance with environmental legislation, and customer loyalty. All these benefits have the profound effect of improving the public image, avoiding penalties from environmental authorities, enhancing global competitiveness, and attracting and retaining dedicated staff, in addition to other long-term benefits. These benefits are crucial to the organization in terms of protecting the environment, the development of sustainability, and being good stewards of the communities in which they operate.

This research will be helpful in identifying the actual sustainable performance of five star hotels in Amman, and the ways in which sustainable practices can contribute positively towards allowing hotels in achieving better performance towards the environment. Because of higher concerns of threats to the environment by the hotel industry, the findings of this research will be effective in allowing the hotels to better deal with the environmental issues that are as a result of the nature of their business. The research findings will provide necessary recommendations to the hotels in Amman in achieving sustainable performance from their regular business practices, and increasing overall performance.

            Governments are advised to nature a stable political environment to attract tourists, according to Nyaruwata et al (2013) security and safety issues directly influence choice of holiday destinations by tourists. The authors compared tourism growth in a stable democratic of Mauritius to that of Zimbabwe, which is plagued by macro social, political, and economic instability (43-56).  In earlier study, Saied (2012) indicates that “the Arab Spring” of 2011 boosted tourist arrivals in Arab states perceived to be politically stable.  Arab countries such as Jordan and United Arab Emirates recorded 10% growth in tourist arrivals in 2011 to 2012 at the height of unrests spreading across the Arab world from Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria. Jordan is poised to benefit from positioning itself as a preferred tourism destination given its unique location in the region. The relative political stability and rich historical past of Jordan means that it is a magnet for domestic and neighbouring countries for tourism and recreation and as such can build a very successful industry to supplement its national economy.

            The relative paucity of tourism and hospitality studies in Jordan also makes it ripe for investigation. A number of studies previously completed on Jordan were focused on monitoring air pollution from industrial emissions, vehicles, and residential activities (AFD, 2006), solid waste management (Alawi, M.A et al, 1996; World Bank, 2007), rangeland degradation (AOAD, 2006), preservation of flora and fauna (Earthtrends, 2003; Eiadat et al, 2008), and water and energy sustainability (FORWARD Team, 2000; Government of Jordan, 2007; Aranki W. and Ghattas H. 2008).

An additional contribution this research will make includes consideration of the growing national interest in attracting Jordanians in the Diaspora back to work in Jordan (Morrar, 2011), and innovate and invigorateindustry especially service based ones like hospitality and tourism. It is hoped that the diasporic Jordanians will bring inmuch needed skills and knowledge and contribute through funds earned overseas, but repatriated into the Jordanian economy. This influx of knowledge and skills is seen as vital to growing the hospitality and tourism sector as a serious source of national income for Jordan.

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You are here: Home Resources Business Sustainability through Environmental and Operational Management in Five Star Hotels in Amman Jordan