Thursday, 12 April 2007

Green Event Destination Certification

Certification is a common tool to help consumers make environmentally informed purchasing decisions. Sadly no certification or eco-label presently exists that expressly certifies a green event destination, making it challenging for meeting hosts and planners to find and select green cities for their meetings. For this reason the onus falls to the planner and host to research their options, assess them and decide which city meets their goals for sustainability, as well as other strategic objectives.

In certain regions green accreditation schemes have been developed to certify eco-tourism destinations, tourism offices and meeting suppliers (such as hotels and conference venues).

The Green Tourism Business Scheme does offer a framework for convention and visitor bureaus to certify their offices and information centres for sustainable practices in the United Kingdom. The Scheme uses over 120 measures of sustainability that businesses can choose to implement in order to earn either Bronze, Silver or Gold accreditation.

Travel Green Wisconsin is a state-based voluntary certification program that recognizes businesses that have made a commitment to continuously improving their operations in order to reduce their environmental and social impact. This state-based scheme has accredited convention and visitor bureaus for sustainable practice, although also certifies a diversity of tourism businesses.

Green Globe has also developed a Community and Destination Standard for cities that are marketing and managing themselves for sustainable tourism. The program presents a comprehensive list of criteria, although does not specifically consider services and products required by the meeting sector.

When selecting a product or service on the basis of an environmental certification caveat emptor should always apply, and this is no different in the case of green event destinations. Consumers are well advised to pay close attention to:
  • The criteria adopted by the certification or eco-label.
  • The degree of information disclosure required of the certified party.
  • The frequency of re-certification.
  • The involvement of a third-party in the development of criteria and the assessment process.
Meeting professionals are challenged to ensure they research and ask questions about all of these when it comes to determining how ‘green’ and ‘natural’ event destinations really are.

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