The hospitality industry is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change given its fixed assets and specific locations. 

From coastal destinations increasingly exposed to rising sea levels, hurricanes, flooding, and erosion to parks and green spaces threatened by wildfires, to cooler climes with shorter winter seasons and erratic water flow, and even cities and urban locations suffering from extreme heat and rising energy costs, hotels must prepare to manage risks from extreme weather.

Climate change also indirectly affects the hospitality industry by disrupting ecological biodiversity and changing natural landscapes.

Extreme weather can interrupt operations affecting both leisure and business travel. Erratic conditions often mean erratic bookings and cancellations. Extreme weather can diminish property value, and related property-casualty claims are growing substantially and insurance rates are climbing because of it.

Hotels must evaluate their climate risks, find opportunities and develop a comprehensive climate strategy for their business. Retrofitting structures and preparedness training for employees requires planning and time, and if your property is in the line of fire (or flood, hurricanes, erosion etc.) the time is now.

Coastal Destinations – Summer travel is off to a strong start, but while travelers head to beach fronts, it’s also the start of hurricane season. And few industries will face the challenge of rising sea levels more than the hotel industry with its prime assets located on the waterfront. While adaptation may protect at-risk infrastructure, beaches are difficult to protect without reducing their attractiveness. 

Forest and Lake Tourism – Outdoor activities may be affected by severe drought and pest infestation leading to forest dieback, drought, wildfires, and habitat loss–all affecting fishing, hunting, and boating tourism.

Agricultural and Biodiversity Tourism – With rising temperatures, geographical flora and fauna will disperse to more adaptable conditions. Iconic landscapes and animal species of parks and nature reserves may face big changes affecting tourism to these areas. 

Mountain Tourism and Below – The risk to mountain tourism is obvious due to less snow or melting snow areas, but resorts at lower elevations relying on rivers and streams will also face shorter seasons and erratic water flow.

Texas specifically can expect longer, hotter heat waves, drier droughts, and bigger storm surges. Develop your extreme weather strategy and be prepared for disruptions. Here are some suggested action items:

  • Engage with climate risk experts – proactive hotels are trying to map their climate risks and likely business impact by involving climate experts. Strategy and investment decisions should incorporate information from these findings.
  • Catastrophe modeling can help identify and project weather-related risks, and potential costs, and show due diligence to establish compelling insurance underwriting should that be needed.
  • Adapt infrastructure and hotel building design to withstand weather threats including:
    • Increased elevation and building hardening
    • Move key equipment to higher floors
    • Consider saltwater-resistant or fire-retardant construction materials
    • Upgrade or install additional cooling systems
  • Collaborate with government initiatives. Even at regional levels, industry and government can work together to strengthen resilience.
  • Diversify revenue generation models by expanding off-season offerings, increasing indoor activities when conditions outside are less inviting, and considering discounted season passes to help offset potential losses. 
  • Implement disaster training preparedness. Educate and train staff, inform guests, communicate with all stakeholders, and work with government entities to increase awareness of and planned responses to the potential hazards of extreme weather.
  • Be part of the solution. Travel and tourism are large contributors to carbon emissions and water usage, as travel often means trains planes, and automobiles, trucking in food and supplies, watering golf courses, and pool maintenance. Consider your possible behavioral changes to lesson your footprint from water conservation to locally sourced food and materials.

Extreme weather can negatively impact economic activity and increase the cost of operations in all industries, but the hospitality industry is especially vulnerable to multi-pronged impact. Make sure to plan and prepare.


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