About this Publication
The European Union
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


Outlook 2010

Eco-labelling tourism: Approaching an effective tool

The steps that have been taken so far by the VISIT initiative to build a more sustainable tou­rism industry in Europe are encouraging, but not yet sufficient. There are many difficulties, and the most challenging are how to:

  • increase the number of certified sustainable tourism products,
  • raise consumer awareness and demand for these products,
  • reduce duplication of efforts and resources in the field of sustainable tourism.

In addition, European certification programmes can benefit from exchange of experience and co-operation within the new VISIT Association as well as organisations running or starting programmes in the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Africa.

It is likely that further developments will lead to the creation of a global forum and accreditation body for sustainable tourism certificates (between 2005 and 2010), which can investigate, recognise and promote tourism certification schemes world wide. The new Sustainable Tourism Steward­ship Council (STSC) initiative is a promising approach, which could fulfil much of these objectives. Based on the various developments inside and outside Europe, it is our vision that:

  1. A global STSC is established and represents the relevant economic, social and environmental interests. This committee agrees upon an international standard for sustain­ability certificates for tourism services, based on existing experiences and approaches.
  2. The VISIT Association in Europe as regional partner network, contributes to the development of an international standard and complements it with European specifications for the accreditation of certificates.
  3. The participating eco-labels collaborate with each other to harmonise part of their cri­teria and procedures, and establish a common communication strategy (logo) to con­sumers. Thus raising the effectiveness of marketing and promotion and minimising costs.
  4. These eco-labels will collaborate with eco-labels for non-tourism products and other complementary initiatives for sustainable tourism development.
  5. The tour operators’ associations together with their members recognise and promote the international standard and make progress on “greening” their supply chains.
  6. The eco-labels and their products are widely promoted by the above associations (STSC, VISIT, tour operators’ associations), with full and easy access to their certified products and programmes.
  7. National and international tour operators and tourist boards will increasingly collaborate with these certificates and schemes, prioritise certified products in their marketing and highlight them in their catalogues and websites.
  8. An increasing number of travel agencies, information and reservation systems offer a “green filter” to easily identify certified pro­ducts in a given destination and even certified destinations from the whole choice.
  9. Destinations monitor and report their progress towards more sustainable development, including the contribution of certified tourism services to their environmental, social and economic objectives.
  10. Governments improve the market conditions for eco-labelling, i.e. by reduced taxes for certified products and services and thus complement national and international legislation and programmes.
  11. Businesses along the tourism supply chain become increasingly interested to raise their “sustainability” performance and competitiveness. They will implement environmental management systems and join relevant eco-labels.
  12. Consumers’ and environmental associations continuously contribute to the awareness raising for sustainable development and the role of tourism.

It is envisaged that these public and private partners create an international sustainable tourism shelf in the “global tourism supermarket” and stock it with environmentally and socially preferable products, meeting these newly recognised standards.
The market share of certified sustainable tou­r­ism products rises from less than 1% to 5% and the voluntary tool of eco-labelling in tourism, becomes a growing success.


The Rainforest Alliance co-ordinates the development of a global accreditation body for sustainable tourism certification programmes. The implementation plan is designed to strengthen existing certification programmes and allow for grassroots participation in the STSC in three phases:

  1. to establish regional networks to encourage dialogue among stakeholders, to act as regional clearinghouses for certification information and to provide technical assistance relevant to the certification process.
  2. to increase marketing and training activities for certification programmes committed to accreditation
  3. to maintain network activities and to accredit certification programmes to raise their accountability and to improve consumer confidence in third-party sustainable tourism certification.

Parallel to the successful implementation of the VISIT network in Europe, the launch of the Sustainable Tourism Certification Network of the Americas took place in Bahía, Brazil in September of 2003.