We know how brutal the pandemic has been for the tourism sector. It was not just during the lockdowns, when people had to stay inside, but the long months after, when hotels and other venues were closed. And even after places reopened, we know that the ongoing health and safety measures make it harder for people to take much-deserved holidays. It is especially tricky for the winter tourism sector: the pandemic revealed its vulnerability to external shocks. But the shock is now an opportunity to learn from experience and build back better with resilience and sustainability.
That is why the European Union wants to help. Tourism is one of Europe’s most vital sectors, and we want it to recover, build resilience and become sustainable so it can survive future shocks and thrive. As part of the EU’s wider green recovery plan, the 2020 Industrial Strategy includes measures to help tourism meet climate and sustainability goals. At the heart of this is the EU Ecolabel for tourism accommodation. The EU is carrying out a communication campaign to promote the EU Ecolabel, raising visibility with tour operators, relevant associations and consumers. It could give you a competitive advantage, help you stand out on booking platforms and support your sustainable recovery from the pandemic.
The EU Ecolabel is a voluntary initiative for sustainable tourism. It is a certificate that shows hotels and other tourist accommodation meet key standards of environmental excellence. It covers areas like water heating systems, air conditioning, lighting, room temperature control and renewable energy sources. The EU Ecolabel is awarded by an independent environmental verifier and recognised by the authorities and the business community.
Why would you want an EU Ecolabel?
Firstly, it will boost your image and reputation. Guests will recognise that you are going further to make your accommodation sustainable. That will also improve customer loyalty and engagement with the community, as you will be sustaining the quality of the environmental attractions in your area.
This is especially important in winter tourist areas like ski resorts, which are much more vulnerable to the effects of climate change and other environmental issues. In Europe’s snowy and mountainous areas - like the Alps, the Pyrenees, Nordic and eastern European ranges - skiing seasons are already shorter as snowfall decreases. Indeed, shortened snow seasons, warmer conditions and a lack of snowfall could spell economic devastation for the billion-euro winter tourism industry. These areas can only thrive if they manage their available resources without compromising the environment, biodiversity and cultural integrity.
Secondly, the EU Ecolabel will give you a competitive advantage. Sustainable practices are money savers. Optimised environmental management of your accommodation will not only help cut your carbon footprint but will also reduce your energy consumption, water consumption, use of chemicals and pesticides, household and food waste.
How does it work? Take energy for example. Inefficient installations overuse electricity, so when you replace them with energy-efficient alternatives, you cut your bills. EU Ecolabel accommodations save up to 50% more energy by using more efficient light bulbs and appliances. Money is also saved when temperatures in common areas and rooms are regulated with automatic switch-off options. Using renewable energy helps cut the polluting and climate-changing effects of fossil fuels. Giving guests options for sustainable modes of transport also helps fight climate change and create a zero-emissions society.
Want another business reason to sign up? According to surveys, more than a third of holidaymakers favour environmentally-friendly tourism – and they are willing to pay up to 40% more for this experience.
There may also be funds available at the national and regional level to support EU Ecolabel accommodation: check with your national and regional authorities for more information.
Part of the solution
Thirdly, the EU Ecolabel can make you part of the solution. You can play your role in helping to restore the natural environment while sustaining your local community. The climate crisis affects us all, and it affects us in many different ways. The EU Ecolabel is a win-win response: tourism depends on a healthy environment and if you join, you help protect the environment and the future of your business.
For example, water is a precious resource in skiing resorts, but a circular approach to water management – installing efficient taps, toilets and showers, recycling rainwater and reusing more towels – can make a big difference, saving up to half of the water use without sacrificing performance.
Solid waste, if poorly managed can end up in landfills: the EU Ecolabel can show it is properly recycled or recovered. Plastic waste lingers for centuries and has been found in glaciers all over the EU: this is not just bad for the environment, but a turn-off for tourists. Sustainable approaches ensure no single-use packaging or disposable cutlery, and toiletries. You would also be cutting harmful chemical use in cleaning products and services will bring health benefits and prevent toxic substances from entering the environment.
So, the EU Ecolabel is your chance to become part of a movement. You can join the over 500 EU Ecolabel hotels as you transform your hotel. With this voluntary and strategic environmental scheme you can give guests an eco-friendly and high-quality alternative to conventional hotels – while also engaging in a sustainable recovery. As travellers go green, you can lead the way in offering a sustainable hotel experience. Sign up now, to show your green credentials, save money, and be part of the solution.