Bookdifferent at sustainable tourism conference in Malta

Too often, the mention of environmental standards and certifications conjures up the image of the nerdy guy with the clipboard ticking all the boxes. But on 8 May in Valetta, Malta, the nerdy guys had their Cinderella moment at the EU Eco-Management and Audit System (EMAS) Awards 2017 where green travel accommodation is making its mark.

Photo femme de chambre mrWinning an EMAS award in the category “Large organisations” is the Belgian hotel chain Martin’s Hotels. You’ll get better service at an eco-hotel - Gaëlle Mourlon Beernaert, the sustainability director of Martin’s Hotels, cites staff motivation as an added value of going green. “Using EMAS also provides encouragement to our employees, who are very involved,” she says. This is in line with a European Commission study which found that EMAS-registered organisations experienced improved employee empowerment and motivation due to the greater involvement and higher awareness of staff.

Along with achieving big savings through its purchasing policy and waste management, energy consumption in Martin’s Hotels has decreased by 12% while occupancy has increased by 7%.

Also shortlisted for an EMAS award: the Aparthotel Green Garden, a four-star family hotel in Majorca. They track environmental indicators through a platform (www.sustainablekeyindicators.com) shared with other establishments in the region. Energy consumption has reduced by almost 14 % since 2014, through more efficient heating, cooling and cooking.  The aparthotel greengardenhotel provides guests with environmentally friendly activities including trekking and ecology workshops for children, and is highly active in promoting sustainable tourism in the Balearic Islands.

The awards was preceded by a major international conference on sustainable tourism, bringing together policymakers and travel industry representatives to discuss the ‘greening’ of the tourism sector. Not only was 2017 officially designated the International Year of Sustainable Tourism by the UN, but greener travel is also line with the European Commission’s ambitious Circular Economy Package, which forms the backdrop to the conference. In a nutshell, a circular economy is one where the principles ‘reuse, repair, recycle’ enable closed loop, sustainable systems - in contrast to the currently dominant linear economy which is a 'take, make, dispose' model of production.

Consumer preference and marketing are also key topics in focus: BookDifferent’s Lonneke de Kort presented at the conference on marketing challenges for sustainable tourism.

The term ‘sustainable travel’ continues to mean many things to many people, but recent research shows that over half (56%) consider staying in eco-friendly accommodation as sustainable travel. For well over a third, it means conserving water by reusing towels and bed sheets (38%) and conserving the environment by reducing use of amenity goods such as shampoo, soap, toothbrush, shaving razor (35%).

Bookdifferent users are already making clear their positive choice for greener travel: a choice which is part of a wider movement among governments, institutions, tourism industry and many small operators to ensure higher environmental standards. Already, BookDifferent users can choose from 109 EMAS-registered properties and 421 EU Ecolabel accommodations out of a total of 5000 eco-certified properties worldwide.

And yes, certifications and standards are nerdy stuff – but vital in helping us to make better choices, and protect the world we travel to experience.

Click here to learn more about the conference.

About EMAS

The European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is a management tool for organisations aiming to improve their environmental and financial performance and communicate their environmental achievements. EMAS leads to enhanced performance, credibility and transparency of registered organisations. In 2005 the European Commission introduced the EMAS awards to recognise examples of excellence in environmental management among the wide range of registered organisations.

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