CERTIFICATION CAN GO A LONG WAY
By Larisa Birthwright. Published in the April 2020 issue of the quarterly International Trade Forum magazine
Since 2016, the travel industry is seeing more travellers around the world demanding tourism experiences that have better environmental and social impacts. A recent report by UK-based ABTA, a travel association, states for example, that for 50% of Britons travelling on ABTA-approved trips, a travel company’s green credentials are important or essential when choosing a holiday, its highest level ever.
Many tourism businesses are rising to this challenge with responsible and sustainable measures, yet it is difficult for travellers and travel agents alike to find these businesses, let alone to be sure that their sustainability claims are reliable.
This is where certification programmes, such as Travelife for Accommodation, provide a vital role: they independently verify a business’ green practices and then promote it to the travel industry and consumers.
Travelife strives to provide a robust yet affordable option for tourists in search of all types and sizes of accommodation and now has a membership of over 1,500 hotels in more than 50 countries. From small safari camps in Africa to mega-resorts in Turkey, each must undergo an independent on-site audit that looks for evidence in complying with Travelife’s strict criteria related to environmental management, human and labour rights, and community support. Once each of the 163 criteria in the Travelife Standard is met, the accommodation provider receives the Travelife Gold Certification and logo.
Travelife works with around 25 tour operators in the United Kingdom, Europe and North America. Most tour operators have a sustainability strategy that might include increasing the number of sustainable accommodations. They can download a weekly report that lists each accommodation provider and their certification status, making it easier for sales staff and their customers to identify sustainable accommodation options. A special business-to-consumer portal on travelifecollection.com lists all of Travelife’s certified businesses for any vacationers that may want to book at a certified property and offers as well an active social media strategy for their members.
In addition to improving market access for businesses, Travelife reduces risks for both travel companies and accommodation suppliers by re-certifying each business every two years. While the standards may seem stringent, the company makes sure no one is left behind: each business has six months to complete post-audit improvements and has access to over 60 online guides and templates that help accommodation providers comply with the Travelife Standard.
For more information about Travelife, visit www.travelifestaybetter.com.