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The Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS) is the national sustainable tourism certification scheme for the UK and is the only national scheme to be independently validated by the International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT) on behalf of Visit England, Visit Wales and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and endorsed by Visit Scotland and Failte Ireland.
Businesses opting to join the scheme are assessed by a qualified grading advisor against a rigorous set of criteria, covering a range of areas, such as energy and water efficiency, waste management, biodiversity and more. Those businesses that meet the required standard, receive a Bronze, Silver, or Gold award based on their level of achievement.
Among those receiving a Green Tourism Silver was The Grand Hotel Eastbourne. To qualify for the scheme The Grand Hotel needed to show it used a significant amount of recycled products, as well as operating a recycling scheme. The hotel also needed to be able to demonstrate that they are working extensively to source supplies both locally and ethically as well as maintaining standards, minimising damage to the environment and meeting good standards of practice while providing a high quality of service.
Jonathan Webley, General Manager at The Grand Hotel, commented: “We are delighted to have been awarded this accreditation. At The Grand Hotel we are committed to sustainable tourism and minimising damage to the environment. We take pride in being a green tourist destination whilst retaining great customer service.”
Another worthy winner of Silver accreditation was Tylney Hall Hotel in Hook, Hampshire.
Meanwhile The Cotswold Water Park Four Pillars Hotel was awarded Gold Accreditation. The award recognises the hotel’s hard work, dedication and commitment to providing responsible tourism practices throughout the hotel.
The Four Pillars Hotel was judged to have excelled in areas relating to energy usage, waste management and environmental impact and the award highlights the efforts of the hotel's 'Green Team' that include daily energy monitoring, increased investment into recycling efforts for staff and visitors and regular ecology and biodiversity monitoring throughout the hotel's lakeside setting. Significant steps have also been put in place towards the installation of an alternate energy source and the hotel now has a dedicated 'Sanctuary' for the promotion of important flora, fauna and wildlife.
Kellie Appleyard, resident manager at Cotswold Water Park Four Pillars Hotel who heads up the hotel's 'Green Team', says "We are so proud and delighted to have achieved this outstanding accolade. It is testament to the dedication of both the staff and the management team who continue to strive and look for innovative ways to reduce the environmental impact of our business practices. Winning the award highlights how committed we are to being 'green' throughout the hotel whilst not compromising the standards that guests expect."
Four Pillars Hotels has a further five hotels within its collection and each of these hotels also individually hold a Silver Award for their efforts in sustainable and responsible tourism. One of the group’s initiatives is for companies hosting events and conferences. Through a partnership with OxTreeGen (who offer sustainable woodlands in the UK) companies wishing to mitigate the effect of their carbon footprint can use an online tool on www.meetingsfouryou.co.uk to calculate what it would take to make the event carbon neutral and then Four Pillars Hotels will plant the requisite number of trees via OxTreeGen.
Green Tourism recently held their first annual conference at which they named their 2013 GoldStar winners.
There has been an annual Green Tourism Week since 2011 with an award ceremony for GoldStar Award winners and Best Carbon Performers. The GoldStars are selected from the highest scoring businesses from the previous year and go through a judging process which includes obtaining references from customers and suppliers. The Best Carbon Performers are selected from those businesses that have reduced their carbon emissions the most.
This year’s GoldStar winners were named as:
Visitor Attraction: Scottish Crannog Centre, Perthshire
Runners up who achieved a Highly Commended for their efforts and other GTBS information can be found on their website.