Sustainability and the environmental impact of the tourism industry: An analysis of the hotel sector in Catalonia, Spain

Juan Jose Gomez Guillen, David Tapias Baqué


Purpose: This research examines policies aimed at reducing the environmental impact of the hotel sector in Catalonia, Spain in 2020 and how they are communicated to stakeholders through corporate websites. It applies academic criteria to identify key aspects that are relevant to tourism.

Design/Methodology: This study conducts a descriptive analysis of Catalonia's hotel sector in 2020, utilizing SABI (Iberian Balance Sheet Analysis System) data. It selects the top 48 companies in the hotel sector that are legally required to report their annual accounts in the regular format. The study then systematically evaluates their websites to assess the availability and transparency of information on environmental sustainability.

Findings: Sustainable tourism, marked by non-financial indicators such as environmental impact, energy/water usage and waste generation, is a very important issue for stakeholders in the hotel industry, including governments, owners, investors, and customers. The sector's reporting methods are crucial for effectively communicating environmental policies to these parties. While many companies have implemented strategies to assess and reduce their environmental impact, there is still considerable room for improvement, particularly in communicating these efforts to the various stakeholders.

Research limitations/implications: This research, while rigorous, has certain limitations that suggest directions for future studies. A primary constraint involves data reported at a group level by hotel companies, which complicates obtaining specific data for the Catalonia region, particularly for hotel groups with an international presence. Another significant limitation is the reliance on indirect data collection, based on the companies' self-reported environmental policies posted on their websites.

Practical implications: By identifying and knowing the environmental policies of the hotel industry over the analyzed period, we can help the industry itself to improve the sustainability of its environmental efforts and make it more attractive to all stakeholders.

Social implications: The study highlights the importance of environmental policies and the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the hotel industry. This industry plays an important role in achieving the UN SDGs, which offer significant benefits for business, such as access to new markets, better risk management and long-term sustainability, as well as social benefits. This is increasingly expected by both consumers and investors.

Originality/Value: This study examines the commitment and information transparency of the Costa Brava hotel sector in terms of environmental sustainability, as well as its communication strategies. This is achieved primarily through the analysis of corporate websites, comparing the information and indices to those of other entities in the sector. The relevance and value of this analysis stems from the recognition that, despite the efforts made to improve the sector, further progress needs to be made in order to make it more attractive to stakeholders.


Sustainability, environmental impact, communication, transparency, tourism, hotel, hospitality industry

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Intangible Capital, 2004-2024

Online ISSN: 1697-9818; Print ISSN: 2014-3214; DL: B-33375-2004

Publisher: OmniaScience