By Oliva Jayne Shepherd

The new generation of guests and diners are increasingly making buying decisions based on vendors approach to sustainability issues.  The young are driving demand for environmentally friendly products and practices, and at the same time educating and encouraging the older generation to do the same.  Even those that still want to deny the existence of climate change, cannot deny the sentiment of others.

So, how can a hotel demonstrate a comment to sustainable practices and attract this wave of eco-savvy consumers?  A great first step is to obtain and promote one of these green accreditations.


Green Tourism Award

Green Tourism encourages businesses to participate in improving sustainability within the industry by adopting greener practices. People, places and planet are key focus points for this organisation: promoting engagement with local communities, protecting the natural environment and commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of the industry. Tourism businesses demonstrating dedication to sustainable and environmentally-friendly practice are recognised with a bronze, silver or gold award which is acknowledged worldwide. Members of Green Tourism benefit from specialist advice supporting the development of greener operations, involvement in monthly sustainability campaigns, access to an exclusive interactive carbon calculator, discounts and offers from approved and affiliate suppliers and a Green Tourism certificate, logo and plaque for property marketing purposes. The ten minute Green Check Quiz on their website allows businesses to find out if they are eligible for a green tourism award. To join Green Tourism businesses can complete a full Green Check Assessment online and pay an initial registration fee and annual fees are variable dependent on the type and size of the business.


Green Key

Green Key, an official international programme of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), is a non-profit making programme therefore, participation costs are lower in comparison too other accreditation schemes. Green key’s objective is to increase environmentally friendly practices, making use of technology to support sustainable operations. This eco-label emphasises the importance of raising awareness fostering behaviour change amongst establishments and their staff in addition to their guests and customers.

Tourism and hospitality establishments worldwide are eligible to apply for the Green Key award. The self-assessment form enables businesses to evaluate their readiness to apply for the award and full details of the criteria that must be met may be obtained by contacting the relevant national operator. Frequent audits and comprehensive documentation are used to ensure compliance with the strict criteria outlined by the FEE, which is also recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.


TripAdvisor Green Leaders Programme

TripAdvisor, perhaps better known as a review site, highlights businesses committed to sustainability and eco-friendly values. TripAdvisor developed the GreenLeaders programme alongside The UK Green Building Council, The Carbon Trust, the international tourism partnership and the UNEP. Applications for the programme take place online, with no fee, and consideration is given to a vast range of environmentally friendly practices. Establishments are evaluated by business audits, conducted by an independent organisation, both in response to traveller feedback and on annual basis. Businesses receive a ranking of either Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum, which will be displayed clearly on the site listing alongside details of green practices conducted by the establishment. Customers are also able to filter searches on TripAdvisor to identify businesses with a GreenLeader badge. Businesses which are not eligible for a GreenLeader badge, but meet the minimum criteria of sustainable practices, are able to qualify as a GreenPartner.


Green Accord

Green Accord enables businesses of any type or size to apply for accreditation through a self- assessment tool. There are three levels of accreditation Select, Superior, Premier, achieved by fulfilling relevant criteria which is split into core requirements and operational requirements. Self-assessment offers an affordable method to implement environmentally friendly practices. Small establishments may be acknowledged without the need to bear the cost of establishing a full Environmental Management System (EMS). Larger establishments which already have their EMS accreditation, are able to add to this by developing and actively implementing eco-friendly practices and sustainable operations.

Applications for these accreditations is accelerating as the market responds to the demand. Hotel Buyer Store providing hoteliers with a large number of green hotel toiletries and other products to help hotels striving to meet the standards required, to obtain these accreditations, has seen a marked increase in requests for such products.   Nick Hart, the company’s green products ambassador says “in recent weeks we have seen a return to the huge numbers of enquiries and sample requests that we were receiving prior to the pandemic, which understandably interrupted momentum briefly”.

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