Eco friendly trips are more than just sustainable travel to green locations where travelers can engage in environmentally-friendly activities. Eco friendly travel also includes staying at sustainable hotels that prioritize green energy, minimizing waste, and respecting the local environment.
Although many hotel websites may advertise green initiatives or projects, for many people, it can be difficult to judge whether such claims are boasts designed to attract well-intentioned travelers or if the claims are actually indicative of a trustworthy sustainable certification.
What is a Sustainable Certification?
One survey conducted by Booking.com found that 70% of global travelers would be more likely to book a stay in a location if they knew that it was eco friendly. In response to growing interest in eco friendly travel, certification bodies have emerged to evaluate the sustainability of hotels and accommodations around the world.
These bodies are supposed to examine, test, and evaluate the inner workings of each hotel to determine its impact on the surrounding environment. If the impact is deemed low enough, the certification body will award their stamp of approval as proof that the hotel is a good fit for any environmentally-conscious and local community-conscious itinerary.
There is a risk in having so many certification bodies, though. Each body uses different metrics to evaluate sustainability and each may hold hotels to a different standard of quality. For example, TripAdvisor will award its sustainability certification based on the results of a free survey that only takes 30-60 minutes. Other certification bodies are much more expensive and far more time-consuming.
To unite these otherwise disparate certification bodies under a single standard of quality, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) reviews each certification body to ensure that each uses a rigorous and reliable methodology and meets global standards.
These four points are the four major pillars of the standard of GSTC.
- Sustainable management
- Socioeconomic impacts
- Cultural impacts
- Environmental impacts (including consumption of resources, reducing pollution, and conserving biodiversity and landscapes)
Sustainable certification bodies accredited by GSTC can be said to meet environmentally friendly quality standards at a high level of world standards.
The GSTC has reviewed and approved the certification bodies listed below.
An expansive consulting firm based on China, Bureau Veritas offers a variety of services (including inspections, audits, testing, and analyses) for any industry, from aerospace to transportation and everything in between. Bureau Veritas is the only authorized LEED Certification Auditing Agency in the Asia-Pacific region and offers environmental health assessments and “health, safety, and environment” training to its clients.
Control Union Certifications
Described as a “one-stop-shop” for certification programs, Control Union began as a certification body for sustainable agriculture. Over the last 100 years, it has since expanded into a global network of other, independent service bodies with expertise in food, animal feed, forestry, and social compliance.
United Certification Systems Limited (UCSL)
Operating in eastern and western Europe, Russia, the Middle East, India, and China, UCSL prioritizes sustainability in all of their certification processes. Using the same standards for quality as the GSTC, their four pillars for evaluating hotels are: effective sustainable management, environmental impact, social and economic impacts on local communities, and engaging and protecting cultural heritage.
Founded in 2006, this Italian company also uses the GSTC’s metrics for evaluating sustainability. Other areas of expertise for Vireo include soil quality, forest health, marine stewardship, and carbon emissions.
When planning your next eco-friendly trip, consider booking a stay in a sustainable and eco friendly hotel. Look for certifications from any of the above trusted organizations to know that your accommodations have been rigorously evaluated with global standard.
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