Eco-travel seals of approval
There's no convenient 'green pages' directory for eco-lodges, eco-friendly tour companies, or eco-travel destinations. Instead, there are dozens of programs which aim to help travelers make up their mind about the eco-credentials of their travel suppliers. From hotels to beaches, there's a suitable certification scheme for them all.
Here are the most reputable certifications out there:
|Green Globe||All tourism services, from airlines to accommodations||Global||Participants are first benchmarked according to regional best-practice standards, then Certified when they prove they are operating at a high environmental standard|
|Ecotel||Accommodations||Global||Hotels that meet primary criteria are inspected and then awarded between 1 and 5 Ecotel Globes. Certificationifications must be renewed every two years, and Ecotel inspects hotels unannounced|
|Sustainable Tourism Eco-Certificationification Program (STEP)||Tour operators, accommodations, attractions, transportation services, and community-based tourism||Global||Planners reviewed more than a dozen certification schemes to develop this one, in which tourism providers self-measure, assess, and agree to enhance their environmental efforts|
|Audubon Green Leaf||Accommodations||U.S., Canada, and Europe||Hotels submit a survey on their efforts in four areas of environmental stewardship, which are evaluated and then rated on a scale of 1 to 5 by TerraChoice, an environmental marketing organization|
|Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)||Buildings||United States||The U.S. Green Building Council rates hotels and other buildings as Certificationified, silver, gold or platinum according to a multi-tiered ranking system|
|Blue Flag||Beaches and marinas||Global||Beaches and marinas are evaluated on water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, and safety and services. Blue Flags must be renewed every year|
|Green Seal||Hotels||Global||Hotels submit an application detailing their efforts, which is evaluated in-office|
|Certificationification for Sustainable Tourism (CST)||Hotels and other travel-related businesses||Costa Rica||Businesses are ranked on a scale of 0 to 5 according to how they operate their facilities, conserve the adjacent land, communicate with customers, and support and involve the local community|
|Green Key||Hotels, youth hostels, restaurants, and campsites||Global||Participants complete applications detailing their environmental efforts. On-site visits are conducted by Green Key staffers|
|Green Tourism Business Scheme||Hotels, attractions, tour operators, and conference centers||U.K.||Service providers are evaluated on environmental, economic, and social issues, from efficient lighting to conservation, and then given a ranking of bronze, silver, or gold|
|Pan Parks||Protected areas||Europe||Independent auditors evaluate parks’ sustainable management plans. Sponsored by the World Wildlife Federation|
|Nature and Ecotourism Accreditation Programme||Tours, attractions, and accommodations||Australia||Applications are independently assessed and audited before they’re rated on economic, environmental, and social sustainability|
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