Europe's Voice of Tourism

European certifications for sustainable tourism

Sustainable tourism has emerged as a vital aspect of the travel industry, with increasing awareness of the environmental, social, and economic impacts of tourism.

Several certifications and labels have been established in Europe to promote and recognize sustainable tourism practices. These certifications serve as valuable tools for travellers, businesses, and destinations to pursue sustainability goals.

These European certifications for sustainable tourism are essential for promoting and recognizing environmentally and socially responsible practices in the travel industry. They empower businesses and destinations to improve their sustainability performance, while also providing travellers with transparent and reliable information to make informed choices. By embracing these certifications, Europe continues to lead the way in sustainable tourism, creating a positive impact on the environment, local communities, and the overall travel experience.

  1. Green Key: The Green Key certification is awarded to hotels, campsites, and other accommodations that meet specific environmental and sustainability criteria. Developed by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), this certification program operates in over 65 countries worldwide. Green Key assesses various aspects of a property’s operations, including energy efficiency, waste management, water conservation, and sustainable purchasing. To qualify for Green Key, accommodations must meet a set of stringent criteria and demonstrate their commitment to sustainable practices. The certification encourages businesses to minimize their environmental impact while providing quality service to guests.
  2. EU Ecolabel: The EU Ecolabel is a voluntary certification that recognizes tourism accommodations and services within the European Union (EU) that have reduced their environmental impact. This label covers a wide range of criteria, including waste management, water usage, energy efficiency, and the use of environmentally friendly products. The EU Ecolabel promotes sustainable consumption and production by encouraging businesses to adopt eco-friendly practices. It provides consumers with a reliable way to identify environmentally responsible tourism options within the EU.
  3. Travelife: Travelife is an international certification program for tour operators and travel agencies. It assesses sustainability performance in areas such as environmental management, community engagement, and customer satisfaction. Travelife’s certification process involves an independent audit of a company’s practices and compliance with criteria related to sustainability. The program encourages businesses to implement sustainable policies and initiatives throughout their operations, leading to better environmental and social outcomes in the tourism industry.
  4. EarthCheck: EarthCheck is a certification and benchmarking program that focuses on the operational efficiency and environmental performance of the tourism industry. It provides a framework for businesses to measure and improve their sustainability practices. EarthCheck’s criteria cover areas such as energy consumption, water usage, waste management, and community engagement. The program helps businesses identify areas for improvement and implement strategies to reduce their environmental footprint. EarthCheck certification is recognized globally and allows businesses to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable tourism practices.
  5. Green Globe: Green Globe is a global certification program for the travel and tourism industry. It assesses businesses based on criteria related to environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and economic viability. Green Globe certification involves an independent audit of a business’s sustainability practices, including areas such as energy and water efficiency, waste management, biodiversity conservation, and community involvement. The program aims to promote sustainable practices and provides travellers with a reliable way to identify environmentally conscious businesses.
  6. Blue Flag: The Blue Flag is an international eco-label awarded to beaches, marinas, and sustainable boating tourism operators. It recognizes high standards of water quality, environmental management, safety, and services. The certification is administered by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and operates in over 50 countries. Blue Flag criteria include water quality monitoring, environmental education, sustainable waste management, and accessibility. The Blue Flag certification helps promote clean and sustainable coastal tourism destinations worldwide.
  7. Biosphere Responsible Tourism: Biosphere Responsible Tourism certification is awarded to destinations, hotels, and other tourism-related businesses that promote sustainable practices and responsible tourism. Developed by the Responsible Tourism Institute, this certification assesses aspects such as environmental management, socio-economic impacts, cultural preservation, and visitor satisfaction. The program aims to foster sustainable development in tourism destinations while considering the needs of local communities and preserving natural and cultural heritage.
  8. Nordic Swan Ecolabel: The Nordic Swan Ecolabel is a certification for various industries, including tourism accommodations, in Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden). It evaluates and sets criteria for energy consumption, waste management, water usage, and other sustainability indicators. The Nordic Swan Ecolabel promotes sustainable practices, encourages resource efficiency, and helps businesses improve their environmental performance. It provides consumers with a reliable way to choose environmentally friendly options in the Nordic region.
  9. Green Tourism: Green Tourism is a certification program for tourism businesses in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It assesses environmental management, cultural and natural heritage preservation, community involvement, and other sustainability criteria. Green Tourism certification involves a detailed assessment of a business’s practices and policies related to energy efficiency, waste reduction, biodiversity conservation, and social responsibility. The program encourages continuous improvement and provides businesses with guidance on sustainable practices.
  10. Slovenia Green: Slovenia Green is a national certification program that recognizes environmentally friendly practices in tourism businesses in Slovenia. It evaluates criteria such as energy efficiency, waste management, water conservation, and local community involvement. Slovenia Green certification is awarded to accommodations, attractions, and tourist agencies that meet specific sustainability standards. The program aims to promote sustainable tourism development in Slovenia while preserving the country’s natural and cultural heritage.
  11. Carbon Footprint Standard: The Carbon Footprint Standard is a certification that measures and verifies the carbon emissions of tourism businesses. It encourages the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and promotes carbon offsetting. The certification process involves calculating a business’s carbon footprint and implementing strategies to reduce emissions. By achieving this certification, tourism businesses demonstrate their commitment to addressing climate change and promoting sustainable practices in the industry.

In conclusion, European certifications for sustainable tourism play a crucial role in guiding travellers towards environmentally friendly and socially responsible travel options. Whether it’s the EU Ecolabel, Green Key, Travelife, or country-specific certifications, these labels help tourists make informed choices that support sustainable practices within the tourism industry.

By actively seeking out certified accommodations, attractions, and tour operators, travellers can contribute to the preservation of Europe’s natural and cultural heritage while enjoying memorable and responsible journeys.