TripAdvisor, the go-to global site for travel advice, is extending its GreenLeaders program to 19 new markets including Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Explaining the benefits, Jenny Rushmore, Director of Responsible Travel at TripAdvisor, said, "With so many travelers placing an importance on the eco-friendly practices of the places they visit, hotel and B&B owners stand to gain a real competitive edge by promoting their environmentally friendly practices."
The program was launched in the US in 2013 and has so far awarded 3,700 qualifying hotels and B&Bs GreenLeaders status, based on the environmentally friendly practices the property has in place. Businesses apply at no cost and are rated against criteria ranging from towel and linen reuse, recycling and composting to the use of solar panels and electric car charging stations. The status is displayed alongside the hotel's listing on the site, thereby allowing discerning travelers to choose more eco-friendly options. TripAdvisor developed the program in consultation with the United Nations Environment Program, the US Green Building Council, ENERGY STAR®, and the International Center for Responsible Tourism Canada.
TripAdvisor is a powerful player in the travel industry with its ratings and visitors' comments increasingly having an impact. The US site has been collecting travellers' comments on the issue and is now also making these available on the property pages. As more and more people choose to travel with a conscience, guides such as TripAdvisor’s and assessment tools such as the Sustainable Travel Leadership Network’s TravelWell tool for destinations, will boost the industry's efforts.
Speaking of destinations, the Honduran island of Roatán took it upon itself to assess its own sustainability. Last fall, the island became the first tourism destination to complete a 360-degree assessment and action plan for destination-level sustainability, according to a diagnostic conducted by Sustainable Travel International. The diagnostic process evaluated Roatán’s performance on five key pillars of sustainability, which include sustainable tourism planning and governance, economic linkages, preservation of cultural heritage, social and community issues, and environmental protection.