Why Gold Certified Ecotourism is a big deal!

Jul 14, 2018Conservation, Ecotourism

Word Count: 943    Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

Gold Certification is a Big Deal…

 

Because it requires incremental improvement, innovation and maintenance of very high levels of commitment to ecotourism, sustainability, conservation and customer satisfaction.

Internationally ecotourism is overseen by The Global Sustainable Tourism Council and in Ireland the ratified certifying body is Ecotourism Ireland, headed up by Mary Mulvey.

The criteria for certification are exhaustive and cover commitments to responsible, sustainable and educational ecotourism.

Achieving Gold Certified Ecotourism is not easy.

 

Word Count: 943    Reading Time: 5 minutes

 


 

 

Gold Certification is a Big Deal…

 

Because it requires incremental improvement, innovation and maintenance of very high levels of commitment to ecotourism, sustainability, conservation and customer satisfaction.

Internationally ecotourism is overseen by The Global Sustainable Tourism Council and in Ireland the ratified certifying body is Ecotourism Ireland, headed up by Mary Mulvey.

The criteria for certification are exhaustive and cover commitments to responsible, sustainable and educational ecotourism.

Achieving Gold Certified Ecotourism is not easy.

 

Make no mistake, this is not green washing!

 

In total there are 59 Measures (covering many criteria) that are to be addressed by a certified ecotourism operator.

These are assessed by formal application and a comprehensive audit by an ecotourism industry professional.

Finally, the application and audit are reviewed by The Assessment Committee consisting of representatives of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI), National Parks & Wildlife Service, Irish Trails Office and Tourism Ireland.

Ecotourism Ireland defines Gold Certified Operators as:

 

These Ecotourism approved experiences are at the forefront of the industry.

They are provided by businesses dedicated to educating tourists about the natural world and local culture.

They are striving to be environmentally innovative and socially responsible.

Their ecotourism products have a positive impact on the environment, local communities, and their clients.

They will invest both time and money to maintain positive ecotourism practices.

These Ecotourism approved experiences have had an on-site assessment, which verified that they have received 85-100% of the available points.

 

Crann Og Eco Farm Ecotourism Gold Certification from Ecotourism Ireland.

A Venue We Managed To Gold Certification

 

In 2017 we attained Gold Certification by Eco Tourism Ireland for the venue we managed, Crann Og Eco Farm in County Galway, Ireland.

This was the second Gold we attained resulting in four consecutive years certification at this high standard from 2015 to 2019.

We managed the project from no certification to Gold since 2014, and maintained an ethos of continued improvement in management and the ecotourism experience itself.

The venue is currently certified Gold until July 2019 and has now evolved into a small eco sustainable community, focussed on community building and nature based education and therapy.

 

 

Challenges Related To Scale

 

In this particular project it was not an easy task because;

• It is a small, family owned destination with many other priorities.
• The experience partly involves a Special Area of Conservation and a small permaculture focussed farm.
• Numbers of visitors had to be kept low to preserve both the conservation area and permaculture zones.

 

The venue is about getting back to nature, not how many visitors can be squeezed through the venue and how much money can be made as a result!

Therefore turnover is small and resources limited. This means everything must be done in house and to make use of every resource that comes along.

We became masters of the principles of reduce (consumption & waste), re-use (whatever possible) and recycle (everything imaginable). See Waste Heirarchy at Wikipedia.

Continuing to improve performance in terms of eco certification, while maintaining the standard of the experience offered, requires constant commitment.

Furthermore, the preservation of the the sensitive natural features requires vigilant attention and diligence in environmental impact management.

Certainly having greater throughput of visitors and subsequently higher revenues would make a project easier to manage.

Above all, it would be possible to outsource some of the functions performed in house, while returning more time resource to the core team.

Consequently enhancing ROI for our time and increasing additional vacation opportunities, enhancing morale and resilience of the core team.

 

Crann Og Eco Farm Ecotourism Gold Certification from Ecotourism Ireland.

Committing To Sustainability

 

Make no mistake, maintaining a quality ecotourism experience with;

Very high levels of customer interaction, education and recreation;
• At levels of visitor satisfaction returning nearly 100% 5 star reviews;
• With a core team of just 4 people;

Requires an enormous commitment of time, energy, personal involvement and diligence.

 

It is very nearly a 24/7 undertaking, certainly during the ecotourism season.

As we also hosted third party events and provided additional wellness experiences aside from ecotourism throughout the year, it was a full time, 10 months per year commitment.

Finally the other two months were for planning, marketing (constant), maintenance, renovation and improvements.

Somewhere in there we try to take a break too!

 

What are the benefits of Gold Certification?

 

Ecotourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world and is a major employer in some regions.

It seems this is a trend that will continue well into the future and that proof of sustainable management standards will become increasingly important.

Certification to high standards by world renowned organisations enhances reputation and authenticity.

Furthermore, it demonstrates commitment, diligence and quality of experience to potential tourists.

 

Unwavering Principles And High Performance Standards

 

We at Eco Freelance Support strongly advocate a return to nature of humanity as a whole for well being, education and health.

Similarly for the conservation of the environment on which we all depend for our survival.

Assisting the projects we do to achieve high levels of quality, sustainability, conservation and education strongly promotes to the progression of this ethos.

Therefore, an operator of a venue and experience that strives to achieve such standards, must by definition ascribe to unwavering principles and high performance in areas of;

• Sustainability in environmental management and future development;
• Efficiencies in resource consumption and waste generation;
• Carbon neutrality or better;
• Maintaining revenue generating activities at not more than the maximum carrying capacity of the natural resources, or lower;
• Complete transparency in ownership (e.g: foreign ownership ratios), management, assessment and marketing;
• Visitor education and overall environmental and cultural awareness;
• Preservation of All natural resources worldwide.

In doing so such an operator, venue, experience and community demonstrate to others, local and foreign, more symbiotic ways of living and relating to the natural world.

And that’s what we’re all about!

 

Resources

Our experience;
Two successful applications for Gold Certification
Four Years Operating as Gold Certification Level
95% plus 5 Star visitor reviews, 2015 – 2018

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