ECO Hotel Certification by Swiss Approval
The certification process is based on performance evaluation of a hospitality structure, according the following four (4) categories of qualification criteria.
A. Demonstrate effective sustainable management
This group of criteria applies to various aspects of the management system of an ecotourism business. It requires the implementation of a long-term sustainability management plan that is suitable to its reality and scale and considers environmental, socio-cultural, quality, health, and safety issues.
It also necessitates compliance with all relevant national or local regulations and legislation (including, among other things, health, safety, labour, and environmental aspects) and gives special emphasis to employee training and the quality of services offered to visitors, which include interpretation and awareness raising regarding the host destination’s natural, cultural, social and political conditions.
B. Maximise social and economic benefits to the local community and minimise negative impacts
The B group of criteria relates to a core principle of ecotourism, namely, maximising the social and economic benefits for local communities and minimising the negative impacts. Local community benefits resulting from ecotourism operations and from the influx of eco-tourists in the destination include the employment of local people, especially young people; the support of initiatives for social and infrastructural development which improve quality of life; and the opportunity for local entrepreneurs to sell products that are based on the area’s nature, history and culture.
C. Maximise benefits to cultural heritage and minimise negative impacts
The C group of criteria refers to the cultural heritage of a destination and how to maximise the positive impacts of ecotourism and minimise the negative impacts. It concerns material and non material heritage: architecture, archaeological sites, but also traditional handicrafts, food, songs and music or customs. Criteria include respecting local cultural codes of conduct; protecting cultural sites; incorporating local traditional elements in the company’s facilities and activities and preserving and promoting local culture.
D. Maximise benefits to the environment and minimise negative impacts
By definition, ecotourism operates in natural areas and thus the preservation of the natural heritage is essential. The D group of criteria focuses on maximising the benefits and minimising the negative impacts of tourism activities on the environment. It includes the responsible use of natural resources by implementing a purchasing policy which favours environmentally friendly products; increasing efficiency in the consumption of energy and water and in the management of waste; and controlling the interaction between tourists and wildlife.