Northern Ireland Tourist Board

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Sustainable Tourism

Green Tourism Scheme

Going Green - A guide for tourism providers in Northern Ireland

We know that as a tourism business, you’re busy. There are breakfasts to be cooked, bookings to be made and customers waiting. Which means no time to plough through endless documents. But we think you need to read this guide (below). So we’ve made it a bit like an Ulster Fry – simple, full of value and waffle free.

How to use this guide
This guide is designed to support you through the process of becoming a green business, from writing your environmental policy to attracting your new customers and everything in between.

Why be a sustainable business?

Sustainable tourism is making waves.  We only have to look at the shelves in our local supermarket to see that ethical consumerism is big business today.  With the heightened awareness of environmental issues, consumers are increasingly showing preferences for products and services that are ethical, responsible or sustainable.  With one in three visitors to Northern Ireland preferring to staying in accommodation with green credentials and 25% willing to pay more for products and services that are eco-friendly, this is a market that you can’t afford to ignore.  See our business insight ‘The Future of Sustainable Tourism’.

Efficiency saves money.  Many tourism businesses are already saving money by cutting waste costs, energy bills and water bills.  There are easy ways to the same. 

Our market research consistently tells us that Northern Ireland’s environment is the key motivator of trips to Northern Ireland.  With one of the world’s most breath-taking coast roads, a mountain range that inspired CS Lewis’s Narnia and one of Europe’s most picturesque lakelands, we need to value what the visitor values.  Let’s keep this place extraordinary. 

What is green certification?

A green certification independently verifies your business’ sustainability credentials. As well as providing guidance and support on addressing environmental impacts which can result in cost savings, it will position your business to access a growing market.  If your business meets the minimum criteria, you will be awarded with a logo and certificate which can be used in all marketing and promotional activity.
There are a wide range of sustainable tourism certification schemes operating in the UK and Republic of Ireland, ranging from those with international recognition to smaller independently managed operations.  With such a range, it is easy for a business to become confused on where to invest time and money.

Tourism NI - in cooperation with the other national tourism authorities in the UK and the International Centre for Responsible Tourism - has a system for evaluating schemes and can recommend the following green certification programme(s) to businesses.  

The Green Tourism Scheme

With over 2,300 certified businesses in Britain, Ireland, Canada and Italy, Green Tourism is the largest sustainable tourism certification programme in the world.

The scheme is open to all types of tourist accommodation, visitor attractions, activity providers, with applicants assessed only on those measures which are relevant to the type of services they offer.

Businesses are assessed by a qualified grading advisor during a scheduled visit against a set of criteria, covering a range of areas, including energy and water efficiency, waste management, biodiversity, community involvement and more. Businesses receive a Bronze, Silver, or Gold award based on their level of achievement.
For more information and to receive an application pack please visit the Green Tourism website, or telephone 01738 632 162.

Tourism NI's Green Journey

Tourism NI embarked on its own journey towards sustainability in 2011, addressing energy, waste and water consumption. We created bicycle storage facilities, organised local clean ups and even changed our light bulbs.  Tourism NI achieved a Green Tourism Silver award in September 2013 and are still working to make continuous improvements.  We understand what is involved in going green and while we are still on that journey, we are happy to talk to any businesses interested in doing the same.    For our sustainability policy click here.