“Today’s tourists and travellers are better
Michael J. Bedner, 2001, Hirsch Bedner Associates
Industry self-regulation has been recently gaining attention, and has demonstrated to be successful. The most significant types of self-regulation include codes of conduct and various certification schemes (awards and labels). Environmental certification schemes are a fairly new concept in the business world. The first eco-labels originated in Europe and appeared in the travel and tourism industry in the mid-1980s, but have grown substantially following the 1990s. Currently over 100 ecolabels and certification schemes are available for tourism, ecotourism and the hospitality industry worldwide. Europe alone has over 60 labelling schemes. The schemes are of varying quality, based on different criteria and content, and are designed for different sectors and geographical regions. Despite the existing differences, certification schemes have common components, which include voluntary enrolment, logo, required criteria to be fulfilled and which comply or extend beyond regulations, published commitment by a company to comply to a sustainable development, a need of assessment and auditing (preferably by a third party, i.e. accredited organization), as well as membership and fees.
The main objective of eco-labels and other recognition schemes is to stimulate environmental concern both from the perspective of the producer as well as the consumer. They aim at providing reliable environmental information to the consumer in order to influence his/her decision making process when acquiring tourist goods and services, and additionally improve the sales and image of the product bearing the eco-label. They simultaneously compel businessmen to accept responsibility for the effect their products have on the environment and adopt the necessary measures to reduce such impacts in order to meet the criteria of the label. Indirectly, eco-labels are a driving force for the introduction of various innovations to the industry. Their main function is to assure commitment to a continuous improvement and provide a good motivation for introducing new technological solutions. Focus of the certification scheme may be regional, national or international, and eco-labels may be awarded in a single area of activity, or may cover a number of subsectors. Certification schemes focused on accommodation facilities comprise the largest group so far and include HVS EcoServices Ecotel, Green Leaf, Green Key, Nordic Swan, EU Flower, and others. Among the more universal schemes the following are worth mentioning: Green Globe 21, the Audubon Cooperative Signature Program, and the British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow Award.
In this section I will be presenting eco-labels and eco-certificates existing within the hotel and tourism industry.
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