drops Travel Sustainable programme to focus on third-party certification

by: Mark Caswell | March 27, 2024

WORLDWIDE: Digital travel platform is to introduce new labelling for properties which have attained third-party sustainability certification.

The move will see the platform dropping its Travel Sustainable programme, which was launched in 2021.

The programme allowed eligible properties to display a badge against their listing within the platform. The platform will now introduce a label to acknowledge when a property has achieved a third-party sustainability certification, coupled with the ability to filter searches accordingly.

Described at launch as “a credible, globally relevant sustainability measure that will provide highly coveted information to travellers all over the world looking to make more sustainable travel choices”, the programme was available to “to any kind of property that has implemented a combination of sustainable practices that meet the requisite impact threshold for their destination”.

In 2022 the programme was expanded to include three badge levels, and last year not-for-profit organisation Travalyst announced it was working with its partners including to review certification such as the Travel Sustainable labelling.

Travalyst to review sustainability certifications on partner platforms

But this week the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) said that the platform’s programme was not clear about the sustainability efforts of the “accommodations” on the site: “The claim Travel Sustainable may wrongly give the impression that travelling is sustainable. Additionally, it was not sufficiently clear to what aspects the claim refers, which may result in a distorted impression of the actual sustainability efforts of accommodations.

The group has told ACM that the Travel Sustainable programme is being taken offline worldwide and that it is working on “an improved system.”

Moving forward the Travel Sustainable name, logo and levels will no longer be displayed and said it would introduce a new label “to acknowledge when a property has achieved a third-party sustainability certification coupled with the ability to filter searches accordingly”.

The group said that so far more than 16,500 properties have a third-party sustainability certification displayed on the platform.

Hotels looking to show their sustainability initiatives on the site can use their individual listings to indicate practices they have adopted across categories including water, food waste, energy, plastic and local community.

And hotels can find materials to help market their sustainable practices on the company’s Partner Hub, including a handbook on sustainable hospitality and online courses developed in partnership with UN Tourism.

“The broader sustainability space has developed significantly in recent years, particularly the regulatory environment, which has been evolving to reflect the central role that sustainability now has in business operations across all industries, alongside growing consumer expectations around the clarity, availability and veracity of information they receive on sustainability,” said in a statement.

“In the context of those shifts and in anticipation of relevant legislation coming into place, the updates introduced today represent an evolution in how recognises more sustainable choices,” the group continued.

The platform said that its approach “continues to be developed in consultation with independent experts and organizations such as the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and UN Tourism”, with the goal of finding new ways “to help bridge the gap between the number of accommodations with third-party certifications and the breadth of choice available in the market, encouraging accommodation partners to progress towards third-party certification”.

Edwin van Houten, director of ACM’s consumer department added: “It’s important that companies use clear, correct and relevant sustainability claims. Consumers are more and more aware of the impact that they themselves have on the climate, including when traveling. That is why, when choosing accommodations, consumers must be able to understand and rely on the sustainability claims that are used.”

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