Transat A.T. Inc., one of the largest integrated tourism companies in the world and Canada's holiday travel leader, today announced that its business units Transat Tours Canada (Transat Holidays and Nolitours), Jonview Canada, Look Voyages and Vacances Transat (France) will formally acknowledge the continuous-improvement efforts of hotelier partners that have been awarded certification in sustainable development or environmental management.
Transat has, in particular, entered into a formal agreement with the Hotel Association of Canada regarding the Green Key Eco-Rating Program, which will be promoted by Jonview Canada to its international partners. Tour operators Transat Tours Canada, Look Voyages and Vacances Transat (France), meanwhile, have signed on to the Travelife Sustainability System, which will enable them to identify and recognize hotelier partners that stand out for their social and environmental responsibility efforts.
"Transat encourages its tourism service providers to adopt sustainable management practices, and this recognition is one means of underscoring the performance of hotels that have successfully embarked on a certification process," said Jean-Marc Eustache, President and Chief Executive Officer, Transat.
Transat has selected six certification schemes, all of which are internationally recognized and validated by external audits: the Green Key Eco-Rating Program (top two ratings, i.e., 4 and 5 Keys), the Travelife Sustainability System, Green Globe, Biosphere, the ISO 14001 environmental management standard, and Blue Flag for beaches and marinas. Through a phase-in approach, partner hotels with these certifications will be highlighted in the organization's brochures and on its websites, with explanations provided to the public so they can more easily interpret them. Growing numbers of people are aware of the environmental and social issues surrounding their consumption choices, including when it comes to travel. An online survey conducted by Transat in 2009 found that 89% of travellers believed that travel industry players should step up efforts to make tourism compliant with sustainability principles.
More and more hotels around the world are committed to implementing environmental management systems or full-fledged sustainable development programs that look beyond environmental aspects to focus on protection of cultural heritage, promotion of diversity, economic development, and the social issues inherent in interactions between local communities and the tourism industry.
At the same time, Transat continues to promote and develop its own program to promote sustainable tourism to hoteliers, which urges them to adopt 55 exemplary practices in environmental management and social responsibility. To date, 120 hotel establishments in some 20 countries have joined. More information on these initiatives is available at www.resp.transat.com.
A certification process is a voluntary action aimed at providing assurances to customers that services are compliant with an established set of standards and criteria; it also helps companies make improvements and reduce their operating costs.
Transat A.T. Inc. is an integrated international tour operator with more than 60 destination countries and that distributes products in over 50 countries. A holiday travel specialist, Transat operates mainly in Canada and Europe, as well as in the Caribbean, Mexico and the Mediterranean Basin. Montreal-based Transat is also active in air transportation, accommodation, destination services and distribution. (TSX: TRZ.B, TRZ.A)
The six certifications recognized by Transat
While taking into account the requirements of European and international standards on environmental quality and management, Biosphere certification encompasses socio-economic components of sustainable development: social responsibility, conservation of cultural property, satisfaction of tourists at destination, and improved quality of life for host communities. Biosphere is a private, voluntary, independent certification system managed by the Responsible Tourism Institute, an entity associated with UNESCO and the World Tourism Organization, and a member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), which is sponsored by the United Nations Foundation. Certification is based on 26 performance criteria, based on the UNESCO recommendations, the principles of the International Charter of Sustainable Tourism and the GSTC Criteria. Certification is valid for one year.
Blue Flag is an international sustainable-management program for beaches and marinas, extending to 44 countries around the world and awarded to more than 3,650 sites so far. Every year, a jury awards certifications, then conducts monitoring visits throughout the season to ensure compliance with the program criteria. A Blue Flag is awarded based on compliance with 32 criteria for beaches, and 24 criteria for marinas. The criteria cover environmental education, site management, safety and services, water quality, environmental management and waste management. To be awarded certification, applicants must meet the essential criteria, have a stated global environmental policy, and follow the recommendations issued by the national jury every year. Created in 1985 by the French Office of the Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe, and ran by the Foundation for Environmental Education, Blue Flag is supported by, among other entities, the World Tourism Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme and UNESCO, for its ability to offer guidance in sustainability policies to communities and marinas. Certification is awarded on a yearly basis.
Green Globe is an international certification program for the travel and tourism industry. Certification includes guidance for tourism organizations' progress toward sustainability objectives, incorporating environmental, social and economic aspects. Green Globe uses 41 sustainability criteria and 337 underlying compliance indicators covering sustainable management, social and economic aspects, cultural heritage, and the environment. The Green Globe Standard is based on the most stringent international standards, including the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, and is updated twice yearly. Currently, some 300 hotel establishments have chosen Green Globe to guide their sustainability-improvement processes and have been certified via an independent on-site inspection. The organization is an affiliate member of the World Tourism Organization. Certification is valid for one year.
Green Key Eco-Rating Program
The Green Key Eco-Rating Program is a graduated rating system designed to recognize hotel establishments' efforts toward improved fiscal and environmental performance. Following analysis of the results of a comprehensive environmental assessment, 1 to 5 Green Keys are awarded to hoteliers under the program; methods for lowering operating costs and mitigating environment impacts are also provided, based on such strategies as reduced energy consumption, employee training and supply-chain management. The program takes into account 160 criteria in nine areas: energy conservation, water conservation, solid-waste management, hazardous-waste management, indoor air quality, community outreach, building infrastructure, land use, and environmental management. More than 2,800 hotel establishments, mainly in Canada and the United States, are Green Key-certified. Certification is awarded for a period of one year.
ISO 14001 environmental management standard
ISO 14001 is an environmental standard of the International Organization for Standardization, developed to assist any type of organization in the implementation and continuous improvement of an environmental management system. This process-based international certification addresses resource use, supply-chain management, safety, and other targets chosen by the organization. The approach is audited by an external certification organization, and certification is valid for three years. Accreditation of the certification body by an International Accreditation Forum (IAF) member is an independent check that the certification body is competent to perform the certification.
Travelife Sustainability System
The Travelife Sustainability System, wholly owned by ABTA the Travel Association, is a practical tool for owners of hotels and tourism accommodation to monitor and manage their social and environmental impacts. Travelife provides an easy-to-complete online checklist that enables properties to observe their performance, obtain advice and monitor their progress. Independent auditors conduct a full environmental and social evaluation of the establishments and if the criteria are met, properties are awarded Bronze, Silver or Gold ratings. Travelife is also an excellent marketing tool, because participating tour operator members can highlight certified properties in their brochures and on their websites. Supported by the largest tour operators in the world as well as independent agencies, Travelife is the international certification of choice for the travel industry, and is based on European and international standards.