As part of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017, a high-level conference on sustainable tourism will take place on 8 May in Valletta, Malta, bringing together policymakers and travel industry representatives to discuss the potential of the tourism sector to adopt a more sustainable approach, with particular focus on environmental impacts.
Hosted by the European Commission and the Maltese Ministry for Tourism, the conference will highlight trends and opportunities within sustainable tourism, present case studies on sustainable tourism in practice and assess the role of EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) and the EU Ecolabel for promoting sustainable tourism in Europe.
Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency will present the work done by the agency to assess the environmental impacts of tourism, key indicators and the most urgent issues in Europe.
Other speakers include Angelos Loizou, Chairman of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, who will talk about Cyprus’s tourism strategy and how the hotel industry contributed to making Cyprus a sustainable tourism destination. Lonneke de Kort, Director and owner of BookDifferent, a website to book green hotels based on their carbon footprint and certifications, will discuss marketing challenges for sustainable tourism. Renzo Iorio, Chief Operating Officer for the Mediterranean Region of AccorHotels, will introduce Accor’s sustainability approach. ABTA, the leading association of travel agents and tour operators, will be represented by Dr. Catherine Wilson, who will speak about the challenges of sustainable tourism and the role of tour operators.
The second part of the conference will be dedicated to the role of EMAS and EU Ecolabel in developing sustainable tourism. The session on ‘Sustainable tourism in practice’ will feature case studies presented by hospitality professionals. According to Ms. Lídice Felizola, of Hotel Jardín Tecina, who will be presenting, “In 2015 we managed to reduce our carbon footprint by 87% compared to the year 2013, when we started with EMAS”.
The EU delegation will present on available funding instruments, along with a new website showcasing different best practices (http://www.takeagreenstep.eu/ ) which will go live on the day of the conference.
The conference will be followed by the EMAS Awards 2017, in which the tourism sector is well represented. Nominated in the award category “Large private organisations”, Belgian hotel chain Martin’s Hotels has achieved significant cost and material savings through its purchasing policy (sourcing local and eco-labelled products, leasing equipment) and waste management (preference for rechargeable products, bulk purchases and donation or reuse of furniture). Gaëlle Mourlon Beernaert, the sustainability director of Martin’s Hotels, is proud of the company’s actions: “We have decreased our energy consumption by 12% while still increasing occupancy by 7%. Using EMAS also provides encouragement to our employees, who are very involved”.
Also shortlisted, in the category “Small and Medium Private Organisations”, is 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. Water-saving measures include maintenance of swimming pools, better design of gardens, and rainwater reuse, and waste-prevention activities such as composting, waste sorting, furniture recycling are contributing towards meeting sustainability targets. The hotel organises regular activities to raise guests’ awareness on environmental issues and is highly active in promoting sustainable tourism in the Balearic Islands.
To register for the conference, click here: https://www.euconf.eu/emas-2017/index.html