Circular Economy in the Portuguese hotel industry – an Empirical Overview


  • Berta Costa CITUR



Circular Economy, Portuguese hotel industry, awareness, benefits, enablers, attitude, organizational performance


The implementation of Circular Economy (CE) in the tourism industry, and more specifically in the hotel industry, is still in its early stages, as the debate on it has focused on the manufacturing sector, undervaluing the service area, namely the travel and tourism one, and their input to the transition to a CE paradigm. Although the hotel industry is one of the essential branches of the travel and tourism sector, there is little relevant scientific and empirical research available on the potential of such an implementation.

The Circular Economy construct has recently been gaining prominence as it has the potential to enhance the use of natural resources, in which the tourism and the hotel industry rely, to mitigate the emission of greenhouse gases, and to offer economic, environmental, and social business advantages and opportunities.

Making use of the results of a survey applied to the Portuguese hotel industry, this paper offers an analysis of this business’s awareness, attitude, enablers, benefits, challenges, and organisational performance with respect to the implementation of a Circular Economy approach. The results indicate that there is awareness regarding CE and its R-Principles and that some measures that may enhance the implementation of this concept are already being put into practice. There is also evidence that this economic approach is beneficial to companies, but support  from all the actors (companies, government, stakeholders) is mandatory. The lack of investment in the CE implementation, policies focused in waste treatment, and the lack of promotion of circular design were identified as challenges. Acquiring new competencies as well as the reduction of the hotels’ carbon footprint were identified as the major predictive positive impacts of CE in the organisational performance of companies.

This research is a contribution to the existing literature on Circular Economy and to the conceptualization of CE within the hotel industry. In addition, to the theoretical contribution, the results of this study may also have empirical inputs for all the actors, and may also lead them to question the goals of their businesses and to examine thoroughly the environmental, social, and economic impact of their activities and operations, and ultimately act as catalysts to circularity.



2022-05-11 — Updated on 2022-05-13