Italy’s eco-label for sustainable tourism emphasizes the protection of nature, culture and heritage as well as the improvement of the environment. Since 1997, the Legambiente Turismo eco-label has been awarded to 426 accommodations including agritourism sites, restaurants, boat operators, beaches, natural parks, and tourist attractions that have raised awareness about running sustainable tourism operations as well as reducing the environmental impacts of tourism.
The scheme started in the municipality of Riccione, where a group of 30 seaside hoteliers formed the group, which gradually spread to the regions of Emilia Romagna and Marche and then to the other 16 regions of Italy.
The eco-label is now administered by the non-governmental organization Legambiente, which creates the criteria for award as well as develops the training, audits the accommodations, and monitors for compliance to the criteria. These organizations are segmented by destination (region) so that they can work with local partners and authorities.
The Legambiente Turismo criteria for award include:
- Waste reduction measures including the separate collection of recyclables and composting, use of refillable packages and the progressive elimination of single-use food and cleaning products
- Water consumption level minimization through water-saving devices, collection and reuse of rain/gray watering methods, and use of local plant species when greening the business premises
- Energy minimization through use of low energy bulbs and household appliances, towel reuse policies and use of renewable energy sources
- Food safety by using organic ingredients for food preparation
- Local cuisine, ingredients and recipe promotion
- Public transportation promotion by providing correct information about timetables, routes, and fares and information on walking and bicycle paths
- Provision of rent-free bicycles and boat service areas
- Noise reduction through cooperation with guests and staff as well as anti-noise solutions when building or renovating
- Accurate information on events, local visits, and tours including natural areas
- Communication to guests about the importance and significance of the Legambiente Turismo eco label
If a tourism organization is interested in applying for the eco-label, management first submits an application. Later, an onsite visit is conducted by a member of the Legambiente Turismo team. During the visit, the organization is assessed against existing best practices for the region. If the tourism organization then commits to a specific environmental measure, thereafter it becomes compulsory. This practice ensures that organizations are consistently improving their sustainable operations over time. Once the tourism organization has proven their commitment to environmental protection, they are awarded the Legambiente Turismo, and are required to undergo re-authorization each year.
The eco-label business scheme is working in Italy. In 2005, an independent evaluation was conducted to understand the actual water and energy savings and waste reduction of participating tourism organizations. The results indicated that simply having an awareness of these environmental measures resulted in significant impacts including less carbon emissions.
Click here for a listing of eco-friendly accommodations that have been awarded the Legambiente Turismo eco-label.