AN environmental tourism programme pioneered in Scotland is to be rolled out across Canada.
Perth-based Green Tourism has teamed up with a Canadian organisation to create what is believed to be only the third party-verified sustainability certification tool for tourism businesses across North America.
GreenStep Solutions, based in Kelowna, British Columbia, is now the new face of Green Tourism Canada after forming an international partnership with the UK’s own Green Tourism Business Scheme.
The move is a major boost for founding directors, Andrea Nicholas and Jon Proctor, who set up the GTBS programme in 1997 to put Scotland at the forefront of sustainable tourism development.
Says a spokesperson: “Green Tourism is now the biggest independent accreditation body of its kind in the world having helped thousands of businesses improve their commitment to sustainability.
“Its unique approach has been used as the inspiration for similar programmes in New Zealand, Sweden and Eire.
“Globally, there are now almost 10,000 businesses that are either members of Green Tourism or associated schemes based upon the criteria, principles and methodology devised in Scotland.
“GTBS is also the only sustainable tourism certification program in the UK endorsed by VisitEngland, VisitScotland, VisitWales and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board as well as being validated by the International Centre for Responsible Tourism.”
Andrea Nicholas, director of GTBS, said: “Our method has always been that specially trained assessors provide more than a tick-box audit or inspection. We are there to help people with best practice, practical advice and ensure that consumers can be confident that businesses claiming green credentials have been independently verified. Canada’s adoption of our scheme illustrates perfectly how our model can be adapted for any country.”
The Canadian operation will follow similar guidelines to the tried and tested UK approach of carrying out on-site assessments for operators, using qualified and skilled sustainability experts to provide advice and guidance on how businesses can improve their bottom line.
Unlike other programmes, operators cannot score and rate themselves. The Green Tourism method aims is to provide consumers with a credible guide to finding genuine environmentally-conscious businesses.
Members of the programme are awarded a bronze, silver or gold grade based on more than 145 criteria, including the installation of efficient lighting and heating, the promotion of nature conservation, use of renewable energy and local produce along with community involvement.
As the licensed operator of the programme in Canada GreenStep, which has an office in Vancouver, has significant experience working with organizations to develop sustainability strategies, cost savings and opportunities to reduce environmental footprint.
Angela Nagy, CEO of GreenStep, said: “There is tremendous opportunity for tourism operators in Canada to save money and attract customers while going green and we are ecstatic to be delivering this program nationally.”
Jon Proctor, technical director, Green Tourism UK, said: “We are very pleased to be partnering with GreenStep as they have the same ethics and aims as ourselves and were an obvious choice for the delivery of Green Tourism in Canada.
“They have a practical commitment to sustainability and a desire to help and encourage businesses which is vital to Green Tourism’s approach to certification and is a key part of the success of the programme in the UK.”
For more information on Green Tourism please visit www.green-business.co.uk.
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