We talked to Anita Gschwind, Head of Office ibex fairstay about the ecolabel’s experience in the sustainable tourism sector, their role in making the industry more transparent and responsible practices that every person and every accommodation can implement!
(1) We really want to highlight again about how proud bookdifferent.com is to work with ibex fairstay, the leading Swiss label for sustainability in the hospitality sector. Where do you see the benefits of working together with bookdifferent.com?
The cooperation with bookdifferent.com provides an international relevant platform to our certified members on which they can present themselves as responsible accommodation. Guests and tour operators who value responsible, sustainable travel benefit from a direct information and access to these partners and can book directly. Through such cooperations like ibex fairstay and bookdifferent.com the offer of responsible travel will be made known to a broader population and continue to gain in value.
(2) Anita, with a background in the hospitality sector you really know the industry very well. Where do you see the need of sustainability in tourism and what made you decide to move your career towards this direction?
When managing a restaurant or hotel business, it is important to plan, implement and check the processes and services with the help of a serious quality management tool. ibex fairstay is such a management tool that promotes exactly in this area. It provides impetus for improvements in showing practice-oriented solutions. Focused on a sustainable, responsible business management the ibex fairstay method pro-actively helps and supports people in daily business and sensitises them for a conscious use of resources.
(3) ibex fairstay has been certifying sustainable accommodations since 1998. With over 20 years of experience, how do you think the (sustainable) tourism industry has changed?
In the beginning, the pioneers of sustainable tourism were smiled at. Fortunately, this has changed a lot. Sustainability is now on everyone’s lips, is actively discussed in the international media and in politics. More and more, sustainability is effectively implemented in retail marketing and corporate strategies. This presence activates guests and employees who no longer accept the relentless use of resources. This development will continue at an accelerated pace and companies would do well to prepare for the changed guest demands at an early stage.
(4) The demand for sustainable tourism is rising, as more and more people today value responsible practices during their travels. Where do you see the role of ecolabels in making the industry more transparent?
An ecolabel clearly classifies the performance of a company and identifies a relevant set of options to the sensitized traveller. Through an independent assessment, the traveller can rely on it and consciously integrate it into its search criteria. The other way around, a certified travel company, hotel, hostel or other provider in the travel industry can proudly present its achievements and award, such as ibex fairstay, by integrating the same into its communication.
(5) ibex fairstay really values the importance of third-party auditing in your certification standard. Why is this your main focus?
It assures and guarantees highest level of neutrality and quality. Thus, the ibex fairstay label – and its four levels platinum, gold, silver, bronze – convince through credibility and verifiable standards.
(6) In your opinion, what sustainable practice should every accommodation facility implement?
It is important to anchor “sustainability” in the management philosophy of a company. Without any commitment out of the executive level, a culture of fair and local, of social friendly and environmentally conscious will never begin. Living up to the own mission by mastering the daily challenges of sustainability should be carried out by every leader and every staff member. A clear action plan for sustainability helps to tackle concrete projects, to implement sustainable activities and to keep on motivating the entire company.
(7) What is one responsible practice that you incorporate in your day-to-day life?
From childhood on, I learnt the respectful use of resources and the associated gratitude for all the natural beauty. In every day’s life I continuously pay attention to source regional, seasonal products when buying groceries. Furthermore, I attach great importance to quality, longevity and reduction of waste. Supposedly small things are fix in my daily routine, such as deliberately switching off light, using water sparingly and heating my home moderately. And when it comes to holiday planning, I prefer accommodations that are originally anchored in the region, with inhabitants who maintain a rich tradition and culture of life.
(8) To conclude: in two sentences, where do you think the tourism industry in Switzerland is heading in the future?
Switzerland is already perceived today as a precious and safe holiday destination with pristine nature, high-quality products, and clean environment. This USP will gain in value in the future. But, to be honest, at a high price as well. With more and more people becoming stressed, with an increasing population living in urban communities I am sure a destination like Switzerland stays attractive as holiday destination. With its easy and well-connected accessibility all kind of high-end tourists from all over the world wish to explore the tiny, green country “Helvetia”. Switzerland is a paradise to consciously slow down and enjoy with all senses. It corresponds to the values of sustainable tourism.
Anita Gschwind, presenting the ibex fairstay certificate, gold level, to Ramona Vogt, Hotel Valbella Inn in Lenzerheide
Thank you Anita Gschwind for the interview! If you want to know more about ibex fairstay, click here.