The VISIT association
European platform for eco-labeling in tourism
VISIT stands for “Voluntary Initiative for Sustainability
in Tourism”, and was created within the frame of an EU funded
LIFE project in tourism eco-labelling. The name outlines the concept
of the organisation: a positive collaboration between distinct initiatives
working towards achieving sustainability in tourism.
The Association was established in 2004 at REISEPAVILLON, Europe’s
leading Green and Ecotourism Fair. This was the culmination of ongoing
liaison and co-operation between a dozen leading tourism eco-labels
from 2001 onwards. Eight of these labels (based in the Netherlands,
Italy, Denmark, Latvia, France, United Kingdom, Switzerland and Luxembourg)
founded the organisation together with over 1,500 participating tourism
enterprises, as well as strategic bodies as supporters and associates,
e.g. the environmental management certificate ECOCAMPING. Further
eco-labels, e.g. from Austria and Spain already expressed their interest
to join the Association.
In general, the eco-labels involved represent nationally based organisations
in (primarily) tourism accommodation.
The alliance between the labels within VISIT is based on mutual understanding
and recognition and the agreement to adopt a common standard. This
standard sets the framework by which credible tourism eco-labels
should operate in Europe. This ensures the consumer has a reliable
environmentally-friendly tourism choice and an indication that there
are efforts to improve the destination towards more sustainability.
VISIT is the first association of its type anywhere in Europe and
its primary goal is to ensure that eco-labelling in tourism is successful,
practical and responsible. The secretariat of the organisation is
run by ECOTRANS, an international organisation with a strong reputation
in establishing effective networks and collaboration between tourism
and environmental organisations.
Since its inception in early 2004 the VISIT organisation is encouraging
other tourism eco-labels and initiatives to become involved. The
main activities planned for the next three years are focused on:
- Developing promotional campaigns with national and international
- Establishing a VISIT Association website as a hub
connecting the different participating eco-labels
a verification procedure for eco-labels based on assessing the
effectiveness of their management procedures, their auditors
as well as a sample of their certified products (those awarded
with the eco-label).
- Creating practical and helpful strategic
tools for member eco-labels, such as performance evaluation (benchmarking),
promotional messages and market research
- Maintain and enhance the partnership
between separate eco-labelling activities. This will be achieved
by co-operation and collaboration within the VISIT Association,
as well as with other international initiatives, such as the
EU Flower, World Tourism Organisation and Sustainable Tourism Stewardship
Membership to VISIT is available at two levels as a full member
or as an associate member. Full membership is open to tourism eco-labels.
These are environmental certification systems operating in the
tourism sector that require an on-site verification undertaken by
an independent certification body. All full members of the Association
are required to comply with the statutes of the organisation. They
must be prepared to recognise other full members as legitimate national
eco-labels, co-operate with them, and work towards the objectives
as well as meet the common standard of the organisation.
Associate membership is open to any organisation with an interest
and/or commitment to the objectives of the VISIT Association.
Membership levels have been set at a low minimum level to establish
the organisation and encourage further participation.
The main office bearers in the Association are the Chairman, Vice
Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary.
The Association is registered in the Netherlands, and a copy of the
VISIT constitution is available from the VISIT website: VISIT
statutes (pdf, 30kb).
VISIT Constitution, Article 2:
VISIT promotes and supports sustainable tourism development
through the representation, promotion and mutual co-operation
of international, national and regional certification schemes
and other voluntary initiatives for sustainable tourism at
an international level.
Sustainable tourism is defined as: “tourism development
that meets the needs of the present tourists and host regions,
while protecting and enhancing the opportunities for future generations.
It is envisaged as leading to the management of all resources
in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be
fulfilled, while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological
processes, biological diversity and life support systems” (WTO,