A programme to help travellers choose accommodation on eco grounds has launched in Europe, following success in the US. The GreenLeaders scheme from online travel portal TripAdvisor gives hotels and B&Bs a rating based on seven requirements, including energy use, recycling and environmental education for guests.
More than 80% of travellers want their hotels to have environmentally-friendly practices, according to a survey of customers and businesses by TripAdvisor. It has already given a GreenLeaders Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum rating to more than 4,300 hotels and B&Bs in the US since the programme launched in April 2013. A number of European chains have now signed up – including Hilton, Marriott, Red Carnation and Macdonald – as well as independent hotels and B&Bs, raising the global number of rated properties to 6,000.
The initial assessment is carried out through a questionnaire, devised by TripAdvisor in consultation with the Carbon Trust, but applicants may also be assessed by a third party auditor. The green rankings are shown on the website and users will be able to access details of environmental policies at individual hotels. Travellers can also give feedback on how hotels match up to their green policies on the website.
Since the launch of Greenleaders programme in US, over 200,000 users have searched for green properties. A new TripAdvisor survey has revealed that there is an equally high demand for more green choices in Europe. More than a quarter (26%) of European travellers have actively made eco-friendly travel choices in the last 12 months, and a third (33%) are planning to do so in the next 12 months. The survey also found that nearly one in ten European travellers (9%) say they have chosen to stay at a particular hotel because of its green policies.
However, nearly half (44%) say they feel that hotels don’t currently provide enough information about their sustainability practices. “People are really quite interested in it, but they just don't have the information, and that is the gap that we're hoping to close with TripAdvisor GreenLeaders”, says Jenny Rushmore, Director of Responsible Travel at TripAdvisor, adding that from the industry side, “this is really the first time they've had the opportunity to tell milions of people about what they’re doing in terms of their green practices.”
The criteria for the scheme were drawn up in co-operation with the Carbon Trust and are aimed at highlighting best environmental practices. To qualify, hotels and B&Bs have to meet seven basic requirements: track energy use at least every quarter; use energy efficient light bulbs in at least 75% of relevant appliances; have a current and active plan for reusing towels; a similar policy for linen; recycle at least two type of waste; have green training for staff; and offer green education for guests. Underlying these seven core criteria are 50 recommended practices – including elements like electric car charging points, solar panels and green roofs. To qualify for a bronze award, hotels have to use 30% of these practices; for platinum award holders it is 60%.
John Alker, Director of Policy and Communications at the UK Green Building Council said: “Green should be viewed as another aspect of quality. The GreenLeaders programme will help consumers – and indeed investors – understand who is taking this seriously.”
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