to eco-labelled products
In order to move the market towards sustainability it is essential
to create an overview of existing eco-labelled products. Up until
2003 such an overview did not exist. As part of the VISIT initiative
two database powered websites have been established to offer consumers
and tour operators full and free access to all accommodation and
other tourism services certified by the VISIT eco-labels; these are
the “VISIT Holiday Guide” and the “Green Travel
VISIT Holiday Guide: the European guide with
a ’Plus’ in Environmental Quality.
The VISIT Holiday Guide was launched in 2003
under the motto “Your visit makes the difference”.
It is available online in English, German and Dutch, and provides
a detailed and structured description of more than 1,000 hotels,
bed & breakfasts, holiday houses, youth hostels, camping
sites and restaurants, combined with attractive pictures. As
added value to their environmental certificate they all offer
a ‘Plus’ in quality.
Thus, for the first time ever, consumers can find appropriate
environmentally-friendly accommodation for their next holiday
just by clicking on holiday destinations on the map of Europe.
The VISIT eco-labels in Austria, France, United Kingdom, Denmark,
Sweden, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Italy, Spain
and Latvia guarantee that their awarded businesses conform to
high standards in all important environmental aspects, and that
these are checked on-site by independent auditors. In addition,
the VISIT Holiday Guide also promotes more than 2,000 beaches
and 600 marinas certified by the well-known Blue Flag International.
-> VISIT Holiday Guide; Search: Accommodation
Green Travel Market: sustainable tourism information
service for tour operators
The Green Travel Market is an online “business to business” service
for tour operators, journalists and other professionals. It gives
up-to-date and reliable information on existing eco-labelled and “Fair
Trade” tourism products. All sustainable products presented
on this virtual market place have been screened on quality and
sustainability aspects. Different types of highly sustainable tourism
products along the “tourism supply chain” participate
in the Green Travel Market: destinations, protected areas, accommodation
networks, individual accommodation, community based tourism networks,
visitor attractions and activities, excursions and tours, incoming
tour operators and transport services. This market offers a wide
array of services to help tour operators to integrate sustainable
products into their packages. A team of professional matchmakers
from different countries is assisting interested tour operators
in finding reliable partners, and creating highly sustainable and
exciting tour packages.
Registration is free and provides access to a growing database
of attractive sustainable tourism products from all over the world.
Co-operating with the travel industry
Tour operators, travel guides and tourism promotional
boards play an important role in informing consumers. Different strategies
are needed, each catering for their own target groups.
1. Reaching the highly motivated consumers:
integrated quality products for niche markets
An estimated 2 - 5% of consumers give high priority to environmental
and sustainable aspects in their decision making process. They
take an active approach towards environmentally-friendly products
and this group could trigger the further development of sustainable
products. In order to reach this small but p ioneering group of “believers”,
certified products will have to be grouped and branded based on
their specific qualities in co-operation with specialised marketing
networks, travel book publishers, niche tour operators or specific
brands of larger tour operators.
A good example of branding environmentally-friendly products is
the Green Holiday Guide issued by the Dutch Touring Club ANWB in
co-operation with ECEAT. The guide contains 1.000 environmentally-friendly
rural accommodation services/businesses. Other examples are the
GRECOTELS, the BIOHOTELS, the niche tour operators associated with
the German forum anders reisen, or VIABONO in Germany.
2. Reaching wider target groups: integrate and
Indicate “eco-labelled” products within conventional
About 30 – 60% of the consumers are willing to take into account
environmental and social considerations while booking their holiday.
However, for this group sustainability issues are only a final argument
after priority has been given to other aspects, such as: country,
region, price, kind of accommodation, atmosphere, activities and
attractions offered. In order to reach and inform these wider tourist
target groups, labelled products should be integrated into conventional
marketing channels and presented in an attractive manner next to
non-labelled products. Consumers should be given the option to choose.
To reach this goal VISIT co-operates closely with mainstream marketing
organisations, such as:
- Travel guides publishers
- Hotel and accommodation guides and
- Tourism promotion boards
- Tour operators
VISIT supports these tourism marketing organisations to include
more certified products in their existing offers, and to identify
and indicate existing certified products.
To indicate eco-labelled products in travel books, tour operators’ catalogues
and websites different options are provided:
- Indication of the specific logo of the (national) certification
- Indication with the international VISIT umbrella
logo together with the message: Certified by one of the VISIT
- Indication with a special symbol - e.g. a “green
only used by the specific tour operator or information channel.
The message is again: Certified by one of the VISIT eco-labels.