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  • Yuki Katsutani

Report on the seminar for the accommodation industry. Part 1: What is the future of hospitality?

Updated: May 3, 2023


30 September 2022, jointly organised by Tricolage Inc. and the Japan Management Association, an online panel discussion was held on the theme 'What is the future of hospitality - the new value of "sustainability"'.

The discussion focused on specific and practical SDGs initiatives to promote understanding of a new value for the accommodation industry as a whole - 'sustainability'.

This seminar report provides background information on why sustainability is necessary for the accommodation industry, its initiatives and useful information for the introduction of the SDGs in accommodation facilities.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction of panellists and speakers

2. Examples of SDG initiatives in the tourism industry

2.1 Snow Country Tourism Region is a tourism creation mechanism that has brought the whole group together

2.2.1 What is the Snow Tourism Region?

2.1.2 Branding features

2.1.3 Targeting overseas customers

2.2 Imperial Hotel's sustainability promotion activities

2.2.1 The foundation of sustainability is the 'founding spirit' and 'corporate philosophy'

2.2.2 Sustainability promotion system

2.2.3 Environmental activities

2.2.4 What is required of hotels in the future - the fusion of luxury and sustainability

3. Summary of the first part


1. Introduction of panellists and speakers

井口 智裕 氏(いぐちともひろ)


Tomohiro Iguchi

Representative Director of Snow Country Tourism Region

Representative Director, Snow Country Tourism Region

Representative Director, Ryugen Co.

平石 理奈 氏(ひらいしりな)


Ms Rina Hiraishi

General Affairs Section, General Affairs Department, Imperial Hotel Ltd. Manager in charge of SDGs promotion

北村 剛史 氏(きたむらたけし)


Takeshi Kitamura, Ph.

Representative Director and full-time property appraiser, Nippon Hotel Appraisal Co.

Representative Director, Sakura Quality Management Co.

Executive Director, Tourism Quality Certification Association

吉田 史子(よしだふみこ) Tricolage株式会社


Fumiko Yoshida

Director and COO, Tricolage Ltd.


2.Examples of SDG initiatives in the tourism industry

In the accommodation industry, "SDGs" or "sustainability" is the solution of the age of Corona.

What is the approach to the new value of "sustainability"?

Mr Iguchi and Ms Hiraishi introduced specific examples from each company.

2.1 The Snow Country Tourism Region as a tourism creation mechanism

First, let's look at various examples of initiatives by the Snow Country Tourism Bloc (a wide-area collaboration involving seven municipalities in the three prefectures of Niigata, Nagano and Gunma), which was established in 2008.


2.1.1 What is the Snow Country Tourism Region?

Why is it called 'Snow Country' in the first place?

Snow country culture = wisdom nurtured by snow, dating back to the Jomon period, 8,000 years ago.

The origin of the Snow Country Tourism Region was the idea that the values and characteristics of the region could be more efficiently communicated to the rest of the world through cooperation between municipalities that have shared the snow country culture...

The collaboration of accommodation facilities enables marketing and operation on an even larger scale and with more momentum.


2.1.2 Branding features

The brand formation mechanism also makes use of the characteristics of the Snow Country Tourism Region, with one corporation having the functions of a DMO (tourism region development corporation) and a DMC (a travel agency that handles everything from tourism region development to the provision of travel products).

Specifically, it is a system whereby marketing ➞ product creation and arrangement ➞ quality control are carried out in cooperation, so that customers can travel safely and securely:

  • Research on the target tourist groups based on snow culture.

  • Based on the results of the research, members with DMC functions are in charge of product development and arrangements.

  • Restaurants and accommodation facilities are directed to facilities with Class A gourmet and Sakura Quality (see below) certification.


The branding of the Snow Country Tourism Region is not simply the sale of travel products, but the one-stop implementation of branding, product development and quality improvement of linked accommodation facilities.

The old private house hotels and ryokan run by Mr Iguchi are also renovated on the basis of "how can we make people experience the brand value?" The renovation was carried out on the basis of "How can we make people experience the brand value?".

2.1.3 Targeting overseas customers



A new alliance was launched with 12 inns during the Corona Disaster 2020, as it was felt that a new alliance was needed with facilities in the snow tourism area to target Western customers, especially the modern luxury segment.



Ecolodge Japan was established as a strategy to better communicate the value of onsen ryokan that are environmentally friendly and make good use of local culture and resources.

A weak point of ryokans - that is, "visualising and considering environmental considerations".

  • Reviewing the quantity and content of meals.

  • Efforts to reduce the amount of waste.

  • Reducing the amount of fossil fuels used in inns.

...... and other initiatives are quantified and shared with each other, and the Snowy Tourism Region is working on clear reduction targets as an area.

2.2 Imperial Hotel's sustainability promotion activities

Let us now look at the initiatives of Japan's leading hotel, the Imperial Hotel.

2.2.1 The foundation of sustainability is the 'founding spirit' and 'corporate philosophy'

Since its foundation in 1890, the Imperial Hotel has stood together with society in the face of national crises and important events.

The belief of the hotel's first chairman, Eiichi Shibusawa, in the 'pursuit of publicness' and the attitude of employees who voluntarily take on the responsibility of 'taking care of the lives of the people gathered in the hotel' have led to the current promotion of the SDGs.

2.2.2 Sustainability promotion system

The foundation is the Sustainability Promotion Committee, which was established in 2020 (replacing the Environment Committee established in 2008), and the SDGs Team was created as the hub of the Sustainability Promotion Committee.

Under this, teams working on the 11 SDG targets have been created by division.


The starting point of the activity cycle here is "improving employee satisfaction".

  1. If employees are motivated to work,

  2. Service is provided in a lively manner and delicious food is prepared

  3. This creates customer satisfaction,

  4. Increasing the number of repeat customers,

  5. Contributes to sales and profits

  6. And this is returned to the employees in some form.

... we focus on making this circular model work.

2.2.3 Environmental practice


Food loss
帝国ホテル:環境活動 食品ロス(これからのホスピタリティとは〜「持続可能性」という新しい価値〜パネルディスカッションより抜粋)

  • In 2001, an environmental committee was established to carry out 3R activities under the slogan 'Mixing is rubbish, separating is resources'.

  • In 2002, a food waste recycling dryer was installed in the company, circular economy (↓) has been achieved, and currently a recycling rate of 70% has been achieved. 2 tonnes of waste generated per day is dried and composted ➞ provided to farms ➞ vegetables grown at the farms are used in the in-house restaurant.

  • Corona Disaster 2020 - Introduced a buffet-style ordering system, contributing to an 80% reduction in waste compared to the previous year. (Incidentally, the Imperial Hotel is the birthplace of buffets.)

  • Self-operation of employee cafeterias: Scrap materials from various restaurants and banquet halls in the hotel are collected and used successfully in the cooking of the employee cafeterias, contributing to a reduction of 7.5 tonnes of food loss in 10 months.

Plastics removal
帝国ホテル:環境活動 脱プラスチック(これからのホスピタリティとは〜「持続可能性」という新しい価値〜パネルディスカッションより抜粋)

The Imperial Hotel has switched to bamboo and wooden plastic materials in the hotel, leading to a 92% reduction in the amount of plastic compared to existing products.

Incidentally, costs have increased by 30%, but the hotel is committed to "entrusting the future to the guestroom amenities that show the attitude of the hotel".

■ Energy saving
帝国ホテル:環境活動 省エネルギー(これからのホスピタリティとは〜「持続可能性」という新しい価値〜パネルディスカッションより抜粋)
  • Start carbon-free operation at the Imperial Hotel in Kamikochi from 2022 with the aim of achieving virtually zero CO2 emissions.

  • Carbon-free gas has been installed in all kitchens (Osaka, Tokyo and Kamikochi Imperial Hotel) and a system has been put in place where all food is prepared with zero CO2 emissions.

  • The symbolic chandelier in the hotel lobby also uses renewable energy. Everything is being done to achieve the 2050 carbon neutrality planned in the 'Decarbonisation Roadmap'.

■ 'Food' diversity and sustainability

We promote 'food diversity' so that customers with different values, religious backgrounds and ethics can socialise and dine in peace, and have expanded our vegan menu, which does not contain animal ingredients.

We also develop food and food ingredients and are committed to sustainability in various forms.


2.2.4 What is required of hotels in the future - the fusion of luxury and sustainability

What are the key points of future hotel management that Mr. Hiraishi holds up as an ideal?

  1. The hotel stay itself will lead to solutions to environmental and social issues.

  2. Disclose information, collaborate with stakeholders and co-create future-friendly hotels.


The dilemma of "luxury" and "sustainability" are contradictory: Hiraishi's solution is to "work together with our customers".

"Listen to our customers and work with them. How can we promote sustainability with the understanding and cooperation of our customers?

...... Of course, the challenges and solutions differ from one hotel to another, but the Imperial Hotel is working to solve these challenges with the above attitude."

3. Summary of the first part

The first part of this report introduced examples of SDGs promotion at various inns and hotels that are currently being implemented.

The following four are the key points learnt from the first part:

  • The collaboration of accommodation facilities enables them to market and operate with more vigour than on a stand-alone basis, also more efficiently communicate the culture, values and characteristics of the area.

  • How to target new customer groups around the world in the future, re-examine the traditional ways of doing things in the accommodation industry. It is necessary to "visualise and think about environmental considerations", something that has been done naturally.

  • The key to promoting the SDGs is to establish an environment and structure that enables employees to think about and understand the SDGs in a familiar way,

  • The key to promoting the SDGs is how to establish an environment and structure that enables employees to think about and understand the SDGs in a familiar way. Sustainability does not = service restraint in hotels. Rather, sustainability activities enable the provision of an even better accommodation experience. Luxury and sustainability can merge.

The second part of the seminar is a panel discussion.

Please take a look at the benefits, challenges and solutions revealed by the promotion of the SDGs as hints for the operation and management of the accommodation industry.



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