As you probably know, EcoHotels.com is a platform & community for eco-certified hotels!
Our community includes certified hotels, meaning their practices and operations have been certified and measured as sustainable. But for travelers, it is not always easy to understand what is meant by the term sustainable, nor to know what difference it makes when we choose to support sustainable hotels. Sustainability as a term is recently used so often, and in so many different contexts that one can be afraid, the word is about to lose its meaning. Academia points toward the difficulties in defining sustainability, making it difficult to operationalize and measure actual results in terms of sustainable development. On top of this, greenwashing, false or misleading claims of sustainable actions from companies and operators are increasingly spreading, further threatening actual change in terms of sustainable development.
While EcoHotels.com as a booking platform for the travel industry cannot solve the issues around the lack of definition of sustainability and greenwashing, we can do our part to create clarification about how we work with the term sustainability and what we believe makes a hotel sustainable. Here a key concept is eco-certification.
One way of rewarding businesses and hotels that are dedicated to sustainability and are making a sincere effort towards operating more sustainably is by giving them credible independent third-party recognition. A certification is a tool for doing so. Certification is a voluntary, third-party assessment. It is a great way to motivate businesses to improve their environmental, social, and economic performance, hence pushing development toward a more sustainable accommodation industry.
However there exists an enormous amount of certifications out there, and many of these are difficult to understand in practice. The certification system is sometimes even labeled as a jungle! However, certification is an indispensable way for the travel industry to establish a bottom level of sustainability practices that ideally should be adopted by all hotels and be able to ongoingly raise this level.
What is a certification?
A Certification is an important tool for travelers to obtain certainty that the hotels they choose prioritize sustainable operations. While different certification systems measure differently, most certifications look at the hotel’s impact in relation to management processes, environmental impact, social and economic conditions, and cultural impact. We must not forget that sustainability is a holistic term that includes people and the planet! Hotels obtain certifications through on-site inspections and comprehensive documentation, and the certifications have to be renewed ongoingly.
EcoHotels.com works with many excellent certification standards. Here we present some of the leading certifications that we work with and trust to give you tangible examples of what these certifications commonly measure. However, there are many more great and trustworthy certifications out there, and it is important to note that certifications should not be compiled. The following examples should neither be seen as exhaustive in terms of the individual certification’s measuring points but serve to give travelers examples of what is measured and required by eco-certified hotels.
We want to help clarify how you, as a traveler, are making a difference when choosing to book sustainable hotels! The emphasized certifications schemes and areas of focus are, however, not comprehensive in understanding the certification systems completely.
Green Globe is a world-leading certification scheme for sustainable operation and management of travel & tourism. Green Globe Certification provides certification standards for several Industry categories, including hotels and resorts. The Green Globe Standard includes 44 criteria in four groups and is supported by over 385 compliance indicators. The measuring indicators vary depending on the geographical area as well as local factors but include four areas relating to the environment, sustainable management, social-economic, and cultural heritage.
Examples of what travelers can expect in most accommodations awarded with the Green Globe certificate to implement:
EarthCheck is yet another world-leading environmental certification and benchmarking program for the travel and tourism industry. The EarthCheck Company Standard provides organizations with a framework for environmental and social sustainability and can be applied to all travel and tourism-related organizations. Hotels must undertake a review to identify all internal and external issues relevant to their operations and establish the context to comply with the standards.
Green Key is a leading certification standard in the field of sustainable operations within tourism. The certificate operates with rigorous documentation and frequent audits. Green Key conducts inspections in year two after the initial inspection and thereafter every third year. Green Key certificate measures criteria relating to 13 different areas.
At EcoHotels.com, we primarily work with and include hotels with certifications recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) such as the above-mentioned certifications. The Global Sustainable Tourism Council, GSTC, manages global standards for sustainable travel and tourism and acts as the international accreditation body for sustainable tourism certification. The GSTC provides a specific set of standards concerning Environment, Social, Cultural, and Management principles. If the GSTC recognizes that a business operates with standards equivalent to these, businesses can receive GSTC Recognition. By focusing on GSTC recognized standards we strive to ensure the highest quality of operations and measuring points from the certifications.