Wednesday, February 01 2012 12:22
Vienna, VA, Feb 1, 2012– What does qualified third party eco-certification, a recently minted "green" seal of approval, mean to travelers?
In a newly released certification guide, Irene Lane, founder of eco-travel services trail blazer Greenloons, explains that slogans like green, sustainable, local and eco are being used to seduce consumers.
"But are these terms always truthfully applied?" she asks. "Unfortunately not, and that's where the confusion lies. The lure of playing in the billion-dollar annual eco-travel market means an oversaturation of loosely applied and misunderstood labels that often set the consumer up to pay higher prices often associated with eco-tourism."
However, she adds, "Those tourism suppliers who are eco-certified by qualified third parties meet environmental and socio-economic standards for sustainability, responsibility and ethics. Supporting these efforts doesn't have to mean you'll be paying more."
A PDF download of Lane's paper "A Consumer Guide to Eco-Certification Labels" can be found online.
Ecotourism, explains Lane, is one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry and over the past 10 years has become a billion-dollar-a-year market. Eco-certification provides much-needed knowledge and transparency because award criteria as well as independent assessment and reauthorization processes help educate the consumer about the various socio-economic and environmental issues of a specific country and provide the consumer with a basis of comparison against other eco-travel suppliers.
Eco-certification is awarded to companies that have disclosed their sustainable operations, participated in training on new technologies and undergone stringent on-site visits by independent auditors. Presently there are more than 25 major eco and sustainable tourism certifications around the world and while it can be difficult to understand their nuances, Greenloons' reference guide helps consumers. See: http://www.greenloons.com/about-ecotourism.html#why not one
In addition, a set of 37 standards developed by the U.N. Foundation's Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) (Greenloons is a member) serve as the basis for most eco-certification standards and have effectively established the GSTC as the leading accreditation authority. See: http://new.gstcouncil.org/
Greenloons only lists ecotourism vacation packages offered by certified tourism suppliers. Examples of GSTC recognized eco-certifications that are featured in Greenloons' portfolio of vacations include Certification for Sustainable Tourism (Costa Rica); Advanced Eco Certification (Australia) and Smart Voyager (Ecuador).
Greenloons guides families to travel experiences managed by certified third-party suppliers engaged in eco- and sustainable tourism. Greenloons is a first-of-its-kind online resource aimed at answering the growing need for accredited eco-tours and sustainable holiday travel in the tourism industry. Greenloons.com provides eco-tourism education, news, comparable certified eco-tour and volunteer conservation program listings, tour reviews and booking services, plus a forum for the community to share its personal vacation stories and tips for establishing eco-tourism in any corner of the world.