Green Tourism Business Scheme
The GTBS is the sustainable tourism certification scheme for the UK and Ireland. It is now the only certification scheme validated by VisitEngland, through the International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT). GTBS has been certifying tourism businesses in Ireland since 2009 with a Gold, Silver and Bronze rating. Businesses who achieve one of these gradings are also marketed on the GTBS website. The scheme is open to all tourism business types including accommodation providers, restaurants and catering, pubs, activities, hire boats, corporate offices, tourist information centres and attractions.
'GTBS provides excellent value for money to a wide range of tourism firms with first class environmental advice and auditing. Satisfaction rates of certified firms are very high and drop out rates low, both for the smallest of tourism firms and increasingly at corporate level.'
Xavier Font, ICRT.
E: ROI: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sustainable Tourism Education Program™
Created by Sustainable Travel International to conserve the travel industry's vital assets, the Sustainable Tourism Education Program (STEP) helps businesses and destinations implement sustainable solutions for long-term success. STEP is designed to address all aspects of tourism operations, but is particularly focused on improving business systems, greening workplace practices and cultivating strong relationships with the community.
Watch how Ireland's No. 1 visitor attraction changed their business for the better with Sustainable Travel International's STEP programme…
Guinness Storehouse STEP Programme
What is STEP?
Based on a comprehensive set of sustainability criteria and indicators, STEP is a suite of online tools that help businesses and destinations of all sizes manage their impacts.
The only global eco-certification program in the travel and tourism industry managed by a non-profit organization, STEP is recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and is quickly becoming the gold standard for the industry.
Businesses that successfully integrate sustainable practices into their operations typically take an incremental long-term approach, ramping up their initiatives as time and resources allow. STEP helps facilitate this process through its three primary components or "steps."
STEP 1 - Online STEP Access & Self-Assessment ($250-$750/annual fee)
Step 1 is the completion of a comprehensive online self-assessment tool that helps businesses begin to identify and measure key impacts, as well as become more informed about how to implement industry best practices.
STEP 2 - Apply for STEP Bronze Certification ($250-$750/one-time fee)
Businesses that complete the self-assessment have the opportunity to apply for the Bronze (Baseline) certification. Applicants submit the Required Policies and Documentation for review by an STI-Accredited Assessor. Upon approval, applicants may proceed to Step 3, though this is not required.
STEP 3 - Apply for STEP Silver/Gold/Platinum Certification via an On-Site Assessment (fees vary)
Bronze-level businesses are eligible for a third-party on-site assessment, performed by a local STI-Accredited Assessor. The assessor will verify adherence with STEP criteria and can recommend Silver (Intermediate), Gold (Advanced) or Platinum (Industry Leader) certifications.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s Green Business Initiative
There are two elements to this EPA initiative - Green Business and the Green Hospitality Awards Programme
Green Business: This is designed to support waste prevention and resource efficiency within the business sector. User-friendly self-audit tools and a support and site visit service is available through the website.
Case study: www.greenbusiness.ie/assets/files/pdfs/Hotel.pdf
T: 1850 473361
Green Hospitality Awards Programme: This offers in-house auditing and assessment to any hospitality business without a requirement to become accredited. The Green Hospitality Awards Programme runs a series of workshops regionally three times a year and also offers green team leader training regionally, often in partnership with other hospitality organisations. There are three levels to the award - silver, gold and platinum depending on the standard of the business.
Benchmarking calculator: www.ghaward.ie/benchmark_calc.php
T: +353 (0)21 435 4692
The EPA are currently developing a consumer website (www.greentravel.ie) to allow visitors, tourists, businesses etc to locate and book accommodation in Ireland certified with the Green Hospitality Award. They say 'The website will feature Accommodation, Restaurants, Shopping, Meetings, Festivals, Destinations, Activities and Attractions - and will be a one-stop-shop for Greener businesses'.
EU Flower Eco-label (Accommodation)
The European Ecolabel is a voluntary scheme, established in 1992 to encourage businesses to market products and services that are kinder to the environment. Products and services awarded the Ecolabel carry the flower logo, allowing consumers - including public and private purchasers - to identify them easily. Today the EU Ecolabel covers a wide range of products and services, with further groups being continuously added. Product groups include cleaning products, appliances, paper products, textile and home and garden products, lubricants and services such as tourist accommodation. While the logo may be simple, the environmental criteria behind it are tough, and only the very best products, which are kindest to the environment, are entitled to carry the EU Ecolabel. The EU Flower Eco-label for tourism accommodation is supported by Fáilte Ireland.
Ecotourism Ireland is an organisation set up to stimulate the development of ecotourism country wide. The Ecotourism Ireland label has been developed in conjunction with: Fáilte Ireland, Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); National Standard Authority of Ireland (NSAI); the Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (DARD); and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
Ecotourism Ireland have set up an ecolabel which can be applied to travel and tourism products that are nature based and have an element of interpretation involved. The accepted definition of ecotourism is 'responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people' (The International Ecotourism Society TIES)
Examples of businesses which are suitable for this ecolabel are guided wildlife tours; nature based training courses, instructed outdoor activity, food trails, archaeology tours, hill walking trips etc.
The label has been designed to be a graduated type award which can communicate different levels of achievement to travellers. (i.e. Gold ,Silver, Bronze stars and also awareness level where by a business attends sufficient training and applies Ecotourism principles to their business and communicates this to their customers).
The nature of Ecotourism Education is best delivered to networks or at destination level where a group of businesses decided they wish to develop their products based on this ethos. The label has been piloted in Burren, Co Clare with Burren Ecotourism network 2010 and East Galway in 2011. In many areas the local support of Leader Companies and Fáilte Ireland can be the first step to get some support and resources for delivering cost effective training. A key aspect of training is networking and mentoring for the business.
For further details contact Mary Mulvey - Ecotourism Ireland
T: 071 9856898 or 087 -6841531
GEO is a stakeholder-funded, not-for-profit organization, dedicated to helping the global golf community establish leadership in environmental enhancement and corporate responsibility. GEO Certified™ is the world's most constructive and credible ecolabel for golf development and course / club management. Welcome to your one-stop-shop for sustainable golf solutions.
T: +44 1620 895 100
There are two key certification levels:
WHAT IS OPTIMUS?
Optimus is an innovative, multi-tiered programme to support tourism businesses in becoming more profitable, more efficient and more competitive. Based on international research, Optimus offers a practical approach to achieving excellence and boosting bottom line results. Optimus focuses on every aspect of the business from customer service to operational management to organisational excellence.
WHAT ARE THE LEVELS OF RECOGITION?
The Optimus Programme structure comprises three distinct yet inter-related levels, enabling businesses to progress through the different levels, building their capabilities and each stage and gaining recognition as they make progress.
The Three levels are:
First Level - Service Excellence Programme
Second Level - Mark of Best Practice
Third Level - Business Excellence Award.
HOW DOES A COMPANY REGISTER FOR OPTIMUS?
The Fáilte Ireland advisors are happy to deal with any initial queries or information required and will back this up by meeting with the management team and presentation to each company as required. The advisors will discuss how Optimus can benefit the organisation and how it is implemented, step by step, in the daily life of a company as well as giving a breakdown of fees and supports available.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO ACHIEVE AN AWARD?
The lead-in time for each company is different. The Fáilte Ireland advisors will liaise with each company on an individual basis and indicate when they may be ready to go forward for assessment.
HOW IS A COMPANY AWARDED?
Each company is assessed by an independent assessor who then reports back to the Optimus Approvals Committee. The Optimus Approvals Committee is an independent panel who meet quarterly to endorse or adjust the findings of the Optimus Assessor. Each company is then notified with an assessment report with the result of their assessment
Fáilte Ireland delivers specialised training in response to demand from the industry through a variety of programmes, which can include environmental topics and associated marketing supports. For further information contact Marion O'Connor on:
T: 01 884 7736
In addition see downloads in the 'Resource Centre and Links' page
Fáilte Ireland has issued best-practice environmental guidelines for:
These can be downloaded here as PDF's or from publications section of Fáilte Ireland's website. www.failteireland.ie/Information-Centre
On the Travel Foundation website you will find a variety of FREE tools and resources to help you take effective action on sustainable tourism.
Founded in 2003, the Travel Foundation is the UK travel industry's own charity, set up to respond to concerns over the sustainability of travel and tourism. They are an independent UK charity which helps the travel industry understand, manage and take effective action on sustainable tourism.
You can find out how to make changes to your business that will benefit local people and the environment in destinations, as well as benefiting your business by protecting the resources on which it depends. It can also save you money… sustainable tourism really is good for business.
The Travel Foundation's tools include:
And, coming soon, revised tools for Greener Excursions, Snowsports and Retail…
T: +44 (0) 117 927 3049
We are committed to minimising the adverse impact that our business activities have on the local & global environment. Joint procurement, recycling, energy management systems and energy efficient lighting, are just a few of the environmental initiatives currently in operation. The installation of a solar water heating system which comprises of 308 m2 of solar collectors and two 5,000 litre storage cylinders, provides approximately 40% of the hotels hot water requirements. Our Green Team constantly monitor our performance and will continually strive to improve our development.
Dedicated Green team following an Environmental management system responsible for such initiatives as:
The Ballynahinch Castle Hotel is committed to reducing it's environmental impacts while at the same time constantly improving the quality of it's service.
A range of measures have already been introduced such as state of the art wood pellet boilers and solar panels, waste reduction and separation, with further measures being implemented over the coming months.
The hotel is also committed to the enhancement the surrounding ecosystems through its woodland regeneration program, invasive plant species removal and fisheries management program.
The Carlton Castletroy Park has been involved with the Green
Hospitality for the last three years and from year to year has
developed and expanded itself on green issues.
The green initiative in the Carlton Castletroy Park Hotel include:
To reduce our impact on the environment we have a group of people who are committed to reaching our targets and goals. We call this Our Green Team. Our Green Team train and create awareness about our environmental policy with other staff members.
We have reduced our water usage by putting restrictors on the taps and shower heads. In 2008 we carried out a light audit to optimize the use of power and reduce consumption. All over the hotel we have a reduce reuse and recycle policy in place. In 2009 we are aiming to keep these policies going and also achieve a Gold Standard Award.
The Castlecourt Hotel has made significant progress in recent years in the area of environment management. Through our membership of the Green Hospitality Programme we have been provided with a framework for delivering change in the areas of energy consumption and waste management.
All utilities are now metered and measured and consumption is compared against activity.
Proactive measures such as water conservation, the installation of a combined heat and power unit, departmentalised waste recovery and staff training have resulted in the delivery of a greener product to our customers.
Our environment management plan is focused on continuous improvement and we are confident that our business and customers will benefit from this initiative.
We at the Clarion Hotel, Dublin Airport are committed to helping the environment. In an effort to reduce the carbon footprint that we emit, as a team, we have introduced a number of initiatives to incorporate effective environmental practice into our business.
The team at the Clarion Hotel Liffey Valley is environmentally conscious. To carry out this commitment, it is our policy to strive to ensure that all aspects of the business have the least harmful effect on the environment by implementing an environmental management system to:
In addition, areas of particular attention within the business will be the selection of non- polluting technology, waste minimization, reuse/ recycling, phasing out the CFC's and ozone depleting substances and the reduction of energy consumption.
The hotel does its best to conserve natural resources by the responsible use of energy, water and raw materials.
At The Doyle Collection, a strict environmental policy is in place as part of our Group's contribution to protecting the environment. We separate and recycle newspapers, office papers, organic waste, cardboard, glass, batteries, fluorescent and long-life light bulbs and have an ongoing goal to divert the majority of our waste from landfill.
We use only the most environmentally acceptable cleaning products, from which phosphates have been eliminated and packaging is minimized. We are actively pursuing the reduction of water usage in our bedrooms and washrooms. We are working with suppliers who have good environmental policies to reduce packaging waste and improve the environmental impact of all products purchased.
The Green Team at Fitzgerald's Woodlands House Hotel & Spa are delighted to inform our guests of the initiatives that we are making here for the better of OUR environment.
In conjunction with our Environmental Policy we actively ask for the assistance of our guests & staff in achieving our targets going forward in 2009. In 2009 we have set a number of aims as part of our Green Team Action Plan. We aspire to reduce electricity by 7% (90,461 KWH's), landfill waste by 20% (46 tonnes), gas by 5% (158,778 KWH's ) and water consumption by 5% (1,635 m3).
As are very proud of the successes we have made at Fitzgerald's Woodlands House Hotel & Spa and have achieved the Silver Award in the Green Hospitality Award.
Since joining Green Hospitality Award we implement different environmental policies and strategies, to date the hotel has experienced a 65% reduction in waste going to land fill and overall save €20,000 on waste this year to date.
90% of hotel is on energy efficient bulbs and we raising staff awareness of how they influence energy consumption and how they can minimize energy use departmentally.
We are working with suppliers who have good environmental policies to reduce packaging waste and improve the environmental impact of all products purchased and we only use the most environmentally acceptable cleaning products from which phosphate have been eliminated and packaging is minimized.
Glenlo Abbey Hotel is participating in a waste prevention and energy and water conservation programme in conjunction with Green Hospitality Award. The aim of the programme is to identify and implement measures which will lead to waste prevention and a reduction in energy and water consumption. We are actively managing our environmental footprint and taking specific actions to minimize emissions and reduce waste sent to landfill. Energy and water are managed throughout the Hotel.
We won the Repak Best Practice Hospitality Award 2008 for ongoing a persistent work on minimizing the use of packaging and improving recycling rates.
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), was set up by the government in 2002 as Ireland's national energy authority. SEAI run a range of innovative training and advice programmes for both public and private sector companies. Their tailored training courses are delivered in partnership with trade bodies, corporate groups, and energy suppliers.
SEAI can help you to reduce energy usage, cut costs and benefit the environment. Their online resource centre contains extensive information from step-by-step guides and case studies to tools for checking your bills. See www.seai.ie/business for more details.
The on-line Energy MAP tool provides a guide to creating a best practice action plan for your business. Visit www.seai.ie/energymap to start your plan today.
Something else of interest to businesses is the SEAI's Energy Advice, Assessment, and Mentoring service for SMEs. Register with SEAI to be matched with an expert energy adviser to discuss your energy use and suggest actions you can take to save money and energy.
T: +353 (0)1 808 2100
Accreditation, or environmental certication is another way of making your business stand out from the crowd. There a range of schemes now operating in Ireland which are also listed on this website.
There are many arguments for and against certification; however if you decide that you want to join one of the schemes an important consideration is if, and how, the certification agency markets those business it certifies.
There is little point in attaining cetification unless your customers know about it.
As well as boosting your online presence through the use of websites and social media (see Failte Ireland's information regarding this at www.failteireland.ie/Business-Supports/Websupports/Resources).
There are a number of other ways to raise your business profile and to generate discussion about your approach.
Including information on your website about your approach to the environment; the local community, such as local procurement policies or HR policies; and contribution to local conservation efforts can persuade a customer making a choice towards your business.
Conversely greenwashing or selling your business as a responsible one when it is clearly not can have a disastrous effect. Better to invest and be truthful than risk customer dissatisfaction.
There are many online experts with great advice. My favourite is Frederico Gonzalo after hearing him speak at RTD8 - find him at @gonzogonzo
Another way in which accommodation providers can raise their profile for free is to list their business on the responsibletravel.com website. This is a free service - click on the link below to build your page:
Market your accommodation on responsibletravel.com for FREE
Total bookings of £80 million
350,000 monthly site visitors
Database of 146,000 bookers and enquirers that we send e-magazines to
631,304 booking enquiries and counting
5,000+ traveller reviews
In our view if you are a tourism business or destination and have a website its worth looking at this company which can help to improve it. Its run by responsible tourism marketing expert Xavier Font from Leeds University and they will work with businesses and destinations to market and communicate green practices and help enhance your prorduct, provide more services and improve customer satisfaction.
They say the benefits are:
We are often asked by small businesses practicing Responsible
how they can best market their experience and service. It is easy to
expend a great deal of time and money - both of which are in short
supply in small businesses - on marketing which produces no return. It
is easy to make a loss on marketing. This is the advice we give.
1. There is rarely any point in travelling to the originating
to large trade shows to try to sell your product. Consider selling
through an established online agent in the originating market you are
interested in - for some examples see link.
Check out with businesses already on the site how well it works for
them, and ask why. Businesses using the agent or site will have
considerable expertise in how to use that channel to market, they may be
willing to share it. Generally if you are selling accommodation to
people travelling on pre-planned itineraries or you are selling trips
you will need to get clients to pre-book.
2. For most small businesses in travel and tourism the market is
in the destination, local marketing is what pays off, particularly
where you are selling to travellers who are deciding day to day where
they are going and staying and what they are doing. Look for businesses
which might cross-market with you - where your product complements and
adds to what they are selling. Look for opportunities with other
businesses where you are non-competitive, where there are marketing
synergies, where together you would be stronger than you are separately .
Consider marketing through a destination portal link Consider setting up a local marketing portal or network.
3. Consider using awards to raise awareness of your business and
media coverage. There is a list of awards on the Advances in Responsible
Tourism Forum link If you know of others please add them. Think about
which awards matter to you - where is your originating market?
4. Cultivate local, national and international media - PR and
are valuable in providing corroboration for your marketing efforts and
for ensuring that potential clients know you are there.
5. Use the various forums available on line to draw attention to
yourself - use Advances in
Responsible Tourism look up Responsible Tourism on
Twitter, Facebook and Ning. More
important get your clients to write about you on Trip Advisor and
similar sites. Put a facility on your website for client feedback and
encourage people to tell their friends.
6. Guidebook writers are always looking for good new products
experiences to include. Write to the editors of the guide books which
are important in your destination and which are read by the clients you
want to attract. The editor will pass the letter on to the person next
revising the guide book. Many small businesses have taken off this way. Lonely Planet and Rough Guides both have online communities which can be used to get you noticed.
7. Where you are wanting to attract tourists who are
consider visiting on a reciprocal basis similar businesses on the route -
their recommendations can be invaluable - but of course this kind of
marketing has to be reciprocated.
8. There is often a reluctance to co-operate with others to
co-opetition is invaluable. Work together to grow the cake by developing
complementary products and cross-marketing.
Courtesy International Centre for Responsible Tourism (http://www.icrtourism.org/responsible-tourism/)
The Green Marketing Toolkit was produced for Failte Ireland by the International Centre for Responsible Tourism. The well-written toolkit contains five chapters covering:
Who do I tell? Why am I telling? What do I say? Where do I tell? When do I tell?
Responsible Tourism Reporting is a new initiative offering a flexible and 100% customisable independent verification scheme. It encourages small businesses to measure themselves against their own goals and publicly report their annual achievements.
The scheme gives you the opportunity to explain and justify your business choices. You set the standards and the priorities for what is important for your business and your area of operation. The only requirement - just keep improving!
This is what Harold Goodwin has to say about Responsible Tourism Reporting:
"One of the major challenges for Responsible Tourism is to evolve an alternative to certification, an alternative which enables businesses to transparently record and verifiably report their progress year by year in realising their Responsible Tourism aspirations and to share those achievements with others. www.rtreporting.com is being developed by one of our ICRT alumni Jenefer Bobbin, with a little advice from me. The process is simple but really effective: develop a policy based on local priorities, monitor and report progress year by year and prove that performance with an independent verification."
Businesses should also be aware that there is an ongoing
debate about the effectivness of business certification. Key to
this is the amount of marketing that the certifying company will do
for your business. How do consumers here about the good work that
you have done and are doing?
The Green Hotelier website has a great series of 'Know How' articles on a wide range of subjects including: