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About this Publication
Foreword
Europe
The European Union
Destinations
Table: core set of indicators
Eco-labelling tourism
The tourism market
The VISIT approach
The VISIT Standard
The VISIT eco-labels
The VISIT message
Easy access to eco-labelled products
The VISIT Association
Outlook 2010
Word of thanks

 

The VISIT Standard

21 key requirements for tourism eco-labels in Europe

VISIT’s remit is to promote those eco-labels, which guarantee a high level of environmental quality of their products in their respective countries. A common standard for tourism eco-labels in Europe is required in order to recognise those eco-labels that are highly demanding and reliable. According to International Standards Organisation (ISO) terminology, this means fulfilling the requirements for so called ‘type I’ third party verified certificates. This ensures that eco-labelled products meeting the standard are not misleading consumers or making erroneous claims regarding their environmental quality.

In 2001/2002, a partnership with 10 regional, national and international eco-labelling schemes was established within the VISIT project. Together with ECOTRANS, as independent co-ordinator, these labels based their work on the internationally recognised ISO 14024 standard for “Type I Eco-labels”. Step by step, all ISO requirements were discussed and adapted to the needs of tourism services in Europe. The profound know­ledge of the different circumstances in the countries involved, and the daily work experience of the experts, resulted in the “VISIT Standard for tourism eco-labels in Europe”.

At the end of 2002, the participating eco-labelling organisations recognised this standard for their own schemes. The “heart” consists of 21 key requirements. The recognition of the VISIT Standard and the compliance with its requirements was accepted as a precondition for any later promotion as “VISIT eco-labels”.

The eco-label for tourism services ("VISIT eco-label")

  1. aims to contribute to sustainable tourism development in Europe and - as far as possible – to verify those products with advanced performance in terms of environmental qualities.
  2. aims to contribute to maintaining and enhancing service quality in tourism in Europe.
  3. recognises other eco-labels meeting the VISIT Standard.
  4. has considered product life cycle issues when setting product environmental criteria.
  5. requires attainable levels and gives consideration to relative environmental impacts (“per unit”), measurement capability and accuracy.
  6. is based on sound scientific, engineering, management and social principles. The criteria are derived from data that support the claim of environmental preferability (high environmental benefit and/or efficiency).
  7. takes into account, during the process of establishing the criteria, relevant local, regional and global environmental issues,
    available technology, and economic and social issues avoiding compromising service quality.
  8. reviews the criteria and product functional requirements within a predefined period.
  9. declares that compliance with environmental and other relevant legislation is a pre-condition for the applicant to be awarded and to maintain the label.
  10. selected product environmental criteria, which are expressed in terms of impacts on the environment and natural resources or emissions to the environment. Such performance criteria shall be expressed in absolute (numbers) or relative (%) figures and measure units (e.g. kWh, litre, volume, weight per product, room, bed, overnight stay, m²) and may also recommend the exclusion / non-use of special materials or substances.
  11. requires criteria in the following environmental fields as far as relevant in its area of operation and as far as relevant for the specific product group: Purchasing, transport and mobility, energy, water, waste, chemical substances, air, noise, nature/landscape.
  12. for accommodation shall have the following management criteria, which complement other Environmental Management Systems: Environmental commitment, Environmental co-ordinator, communication and training: guests, staff, public; Monitoring regularly energy, water, waste consumption/overnight.
  13. is able to demonstrate transparency through the following stages of its development and operation: product categories,
    product environmental criteria, period of validity of criteria, testing and verification methods, certification and award procedures, compliance verification procedure, complaints procedure.
  14. legally protects the eco-label (i.e. the certification mark/logotype) in order to prevent unauthorized use and to maintain
    public confidence in the programme.
  15. is voluntary in nature.
  16. is open to all potential applicants of the predefined product group in the area of operation. All applicants who fulfill the
    product environmental criteria and the other programme requirements are entitled to be granted a license and authorized to use the label.
  17. guarantees that all the elements in the product environmental criteria and product function characteristics are verifiable by the eco-labeling body.
  18. has a verification procedure, which guarantees a high level of reliability. This includes on-site visits at least once every three years (accommodation: once per certification period).
  19. has general rules guiding the overall operation of the programme. These general rules control the general conditions for the awarding of the licence and the use of the label.
  20. issues awards on business performance against criteria that apply to the site for a predefined period of not more than three years.
  21. maintains a publicly available list of products, which have been awarded the label.

(Version 12/2002; to be revised until 12/2004; full standard and comparison with ISO 14024 published on: www.yourvisit.info)