Swiss Approval Technische Bewertung S.A.

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ECO Hotel Certification by Swiss Approval

The ECO Hotel certification process is based on the evaluation of the performance of the hospitality unit, according to the four (4) following categories of criteria

Α. Demonstration of effective sustainable management practices

The first group of criteria includes various individual dimensions of the ecotourism management system of the business and, in particular, provides for the implementation of a long-term sustainability management plan which is demonstrated to be appropriate with regard to the current conditions and scale of operation of the business and which focuses on individual environmental, socio-cultural, quality, as well as health and safety issues.

The standard also requires compliance with the relevant national or regional/local regulations and legislation (international and Community) and places particular emphasis on the training of employees and the quality of the services provided to visitors, in the context of which information and awareness of the natural, cultural, social and spatial conditions of the host destination becomes a key factor.

Β. Maximising social and economic benefits for the local community and minimising negative impacts

Criteria group B relates to the central principle of ecotourism, the maximisation of social and economic benefits for local communities and the minimisation of related negative impacts. According to the standard, it should be demonstrated that the local community benefits from the ecotourism activities of the enterprise and from the attraction of tourists to the area which should have a direct positive impact on: the employment of local residents, particularly young people; supporting social development initiatives; creating infrastructure that improves the quality of life of local residents; and creating opportunities for local entrepreneurs to sell products derived from nature, history and the local culture.

C.  Maximising the benefits for cultural heritage and minimising the negative impacts

Criteria group C refers to the cultural heritage of the tourist destination, how to maximise the positive impacts of ecotourism on it and minimise the negative impacts. Cultural heritage is divided into tangible and intangible heritage and includes: the architecture of the area, archaeological sites, but also traditional handicraft products, food, songs, music or local customs. Among the criteria of this group, it is mentioned the demonstration of respect for local cultural customs and traditions, the protection of cultural sites and the incorporation of local traditional features into the facilities and activities of the enterprise, and the preservation and promotion of local culture.

D. Maximising environmental benefits and minimising negative impacts

By definition, ecotourism operates in areas with specific characteristics in terms of the natural environment and therefore the conservation of the natural heritage is considered to be an essential element of the sustainability policy. Criteria group D focuses on maximising the benefits and minimising the negative impacts of tourism activities on the environment. It includes the responsible use and exploitation of natural resources by implementing a policy that favours: the purchase of environmentally friendly products; increasing the efficiency of energy and water consumption and the proper management of waste; and controlling the interaction between visitors and natural life (local flora and fauna).