There are increasing concerns about sustainability in tourism these days. The growing number of different ecolabels and other certificates run the risk of causing confusion among organisations who are considering labelling. To respond to the interest expressed by the hotel industry, as well as by other kinds of tourist establishments in the Brussels-Capital Region, Christos Doulkeridis, Brussels’ Minister for Tourism, was keen to introduce a clear, recognisable label. “Ever since I took on this role, I wanted to support a label or a certification system to reduce our ecological impact and secure Brussels’ position as a sustainable destination in 2014″, explains Christos Doulkeridis. At the end of a period of reflection and analysis, the international “Green Key” label was chosen, represented in Wallonia and in Brussels by the Federation Inter-Environnement Wallonie (IEW).
As a reminder, it was in January 2011 that, on the initiative of Christos Doulkeridis, a “Green Key” labelling programme officially began in Brussels. A pilot scheme that took place in 2010 (with the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel) helped to hone the methods and tools needed to support the programme. In March 2011, Brussels’ panel of judges responsible for awarding the “Green Key” label gave it to a second applicant: the Radisson Blu EU Hotel. Then in October seven more candidates in Brussels were awarded the label. So to date, Brussels has 9 “Green Key” businesses. A number of other hotels, guesthouses and accommodation establishments for young people have expressed a keen interest in the “Green Key” label, and are likely to apply for it in due course.
To be awarded this label, successful candidates must meet different criteria regarding general environmental management, the involvement of employees, environmental information for customers (documents, appropriate signage etc.), water management, housekeeping and cleaning, energy management, waste management, food, nature-based activities, office administration, the interior environment and green spaces. The label combines environmental performance criteria (strictly ecolabel criteria) with environmental management criteria. “The “Green Key” label is really widely used, and growing fast on an international level”, Christos Doulkeridis points out. Created in 1994, its goal is to be independent and neutral, because it is supported by a network of NGOs. Furthermore, it has solid roots in France, the home of most of Brussels’ visitors.
The “Green Key” also helps to accelerate the promotional efforts made by BBL (Bond Beter Leefmilieu), Toerisme Vlaanderen and IEW in the Flemish and Francophone areas of the country, thus improving the profile of the label throughout Belgium and increasing consistency across the country when it comes to environmental labelling for the tourist industry, by adopting a single label that covers the whole nation.
In the presence of Nicolas DUBROCARD, international coordinator of the “Green Key” label Christos Doulkeridis, Minister-President of the Francophone Brussels Government (COCOF), who is responsible for tourism in the region, the first official “Green Key” certificates for the accommodation sector in the Brussels Region were awarded. Seven candidates – 5 hotels and 2 Bed&Breakfasts – were given the label: the hotels NH Grand Sablon, NH Stephanie, Aloft Brussels Schuman, Ibis Bruxelles Gare du Midi and Four Points by Sheraton ; and the B&Bs, Opale and Van Lerberghe.
This initiative is also supported by the Federation Inter-Environnement Wallonie, the FEE’s official partner for Brussels and Wallonia, in close collaboration with Wallonie-Bruxelles Tourisme (WBT), VisitBrussels, Brussels Booking Desk (BBD) and professional associations including Brussels Hotels Association (BHA), Hostels in Brussels and Bed & Brussels as well as the Brussels tourism authorities within the COCOF.
Article taken from Travel Daily News. Read original version.