This program area aims at promoting sustainability and responsible tourism through the establishment of principles/approved models in tourism (standards) and highlighting excellent and exemplary practices among industry players. Currently the program focal areas encompass tourism accommodation facilities, tour operators and destinations. Plans are underway to grow the program to include city hotels and develop a standard for green destinations from the already existing guidelines.
EK’s Standards and Best Practices are promoted through the following initiatives:
1. Eco-rating Certification
This is EK’s flagship program. The Eco-rating Certification is a systematic approach to evaluating a tourism accommodation facility on its environmental, economic and socio-cultural performance against set criteria. The evaluation is meant to recognise best practices in business practices, conservation, community and cultural performance among accommodation facilities and award qualifying applicants with a Bronze, Silver or Gold Eco-rating Certification. We have certified over a hundred tourism accommodation facilities across the country.
- Bronze: This is the entry level to Eco-rating Certification, and it is awarded to facilities that demonstrate awareness of and commitment to environmental conservation, responsible resource use and socio-economic investment.
- Silver: Silver Eco-rating is an intermediary level in Eco-rating Certification that is awarded to facilities that demonstrate innovation – progress towards achieving excellence in environmental conservation, responsible resource use and socio-economic investment.
- Gold: Gold Eco-rating Certification is the highest level of Eco-rating certification that is awarded to facilities that demonstrate outstanding best practices i.e. they have achieved superior and replicable levels of excellence in responsible resource use, environmental conservation and socio-economic investment.
2. Sustainability for Tour Operators Program
Ecotourism Kenya in partnership with Travelife are supporting tour operator companies towards achieving sustainability in their company operations, the tourism market, and meeting the requirements of European buyers in terms of environmental and social issues. This objective is achieved through training and an online reporting and monitoring tool. The training is aimed at a) understanding the concept of sustainability in tourism, b) recognizing the key environmental, social and economic impacts of tourism, c) communicating sustainability achievements in an effective way to clients and d) using sustainability achievements to increase competitiveness in the global market.
3. Green Destination Guidelines
The Green Destinations Guidelines development for Kenya was is an initiative of Ecotourism Kenya with support from AWF and other partners. It was started in 2015 with a goal to establish a program for formal recognition of Green Destinations in Kenya. Green Destination Guidelines was identified as an appropriate avenue to bring on board destinations management into the efforts of responsible tourism. These guidelines are envisaged to assist local destinations to improve on their management systems towards sustainability. The main goal of the program is to identify and recognize green destinations in Kenya and promote the tourism industry’s competitiveness on the global platform.
The Eco-rating Scheme is a sustainable tourism certification program that aims to promote responsible tourism in East Africa. Launched in 2002 by Ecotourism Kenya in cooperation with tourism stakeholders in Kenya, the program focuses on tourist accommodation facilities and awards qualifying applicants a Bronze, Silver or Gold accreditation based on their performance. Eco-rating refers to a systematic approach for verifying a tourism organization’s environmental, economic and socio-cultural performance when evaluated against an agreed set if criteria. The evaluation is meant to determine how responsible the operations of the facility are. The programme began in Kenya but recently expanded to cover applicants from other countries in the East African Community region.
Who can participate in the Scheme?
The types of accommodation that qualify for rating under this program include:
- Bush homes / homestays
What are the objectives of the Scheme?
The overall objective of the Eco-rating Scheme is to achieve highest levels of environmental, economic and social practices within the tourism industry for sustainable growth of the sector. Specific objectives of the Scheme include:
- Promote and increase awareness of environmentally and socially sound business practices (educational/ change of attitude towards environmental governance and social responsibility).
- Increase contribution of tourism to social development (developmental).
- Increase contribution of tourism to conservation of the natural resources upon which each country’s tourism is dependent (conservation).
- Improve destination image, thus potentially attracting more tourists (marketing advantage).
What are the best practices (values) of the Scheme?
Best practice refers to highest quality, excellence or superior practices in a particular field. Under the Eco-rating Scheme, best practices include:
- Protecting, conserving and investing in the environment.
- Reducing, reuse and recycling waste.
- Preventing pollution.
- Responsible use of resources such as land, water, energy, culture etc.
- Investment in people (employees and local population).
- Local people empowerment programmes.
- Fair (favourable) workplace policies.
- Fair business practices.
- Support for local economy trade linkages with local communities/economy.
- Responsible tourism Education environment.
What are the potential benefits of being Eco-rated?
- Publicity in the publications, website and events of Ecotourism Kenya her partners.
- Technical advice (feedback) from the evaluation process.
- Potential for competitive advantage (from using the label).
- Improved operational efficiency and reduced operating costs (from saving of energy etc).
- Motivation of staff and management.
- Improved local community relations.
- Higher company profile, respect and credibility.
- Business sustainability (as resources are used responsibly).
What are the criteria used?
The criteria cover environmental and socio-economic issues. Emphasis has been given to sustainable use of resources, protection of the environment and support to local economies through linkages and building of capacity of local communities and employees.
What are the levels of certification?
There are three levels of certification: Bronze, Silver and Gold.
- Bronze Eco-rating is the entry level and demonstrates a facility’s awareness and commitment to environmental conservation, responsible resource use and socio-economic investment.
- Silver Eco-rating demonstrates a move towards excellence; it is awarded to facilities that have shown innovation in responsible resource use, environmental conservation and socio-economic investment.
- Gold Eco-rating is an indicator that a facility has achieved outstanding, superior and replicable levels of excellence in responsible resource use, environmental conservation and socio-economic investment.
How does the Scheme work?
Interested facilities contact the Eco-rating Scheme secretariat at Ecotourism Kenya and are furnished with the application documents that apply to the level for which they intend to apply. The key document in the certification process is the self-assessment tool known as the Eco-rating Questionnaire. There are additional requirements for higher levels of certification including submitting a Responsible Tourism Report and an Environment Management Plan for Silver and Gold Eco-rating applications.
After receiving the documents, the applying facility is expected to select a team leader to lead the application process. The team leader will consult with others during this process including the management and staff. Once complete, the application is sent to Ecotourism Kenya, together with a USD 150 application fee.
Once received, all applications go through three levels of evaluation: desk evaluation, field audit and Eco-rating Committee evaluation. The desk evaluation is undertaken by the secretariat. The field audit is undertaken by a representative of the secretariat and at least one member of the Eco-rating Committee. Finally, the Eco-rating Committee evaluates the application using the reports of both the desk evaluation and field audits. This committee makes the final decision on all Eco-rating applications.
Applicants are then notified on the outcome of the evaluation which can be either confirmation that the application was successful or a deferment. Successful applicants are then required to pay the full fee that applies to that level of certification (less the application fee) within 14 days. Deferred applicants are guided in their weak areas and advised to re-apply within 6 months to avoid nullification of their application.
Upon payment of the full fees, all successful applicants receive the appropriate Eco-rating Certificate in addition to the Eco-rating evaluation report. They are also allowed to display and use the appropriate Eco-rating Scheme logo on their promotional material.
How long do ratings last?
Certification is valid for 24 months from date of award. This date is indicated in certificate of accreditation. A new application for evaluation must therefore be lodged at least three months before expiry of validity.
Who manages the Scheme?
The day-to-day management of the Scheme is done by the Ecotourism Kenya secretariat with support from the management committee. The Eco-rating/evaluation committee provides second party verification of certification.
How do I apply?
To apply for Eco-rating, request for an information package from Ecotourism Kenya by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All members of Ecotourism Kenya accept responsibility for protecting and enhancing the natural and cultural environment of the areas in which they operate.
The award that is designed to recognize, encourage and applaud leadership and innovation in tourism business planning, development and management centered on community participation.
Ecotourism Kenya Guide
The Guide is a publication that lists all Ecotourism Kenya members, it profiles
- Ecorated Facilities
- Corporate Members
- Certification Scheme and Community Based Organisations (CBO) Members
The guide, which is larger than the directory, offers more space for a profile of the facility, postal and physical address, telephone number, web page, email, fax address and a colour picture.
All EK members are entitled to a free basic listing in the guide.
For 3 consecutive years, the Green Directory has listed companies and individuals that offer products and services that have minimum impact on the environment.
The Directory, is distributed by Ecotourism Kenya to among others
- Tour operators
- Holiday Makers
- Community Based Organizations
- Government Agencies
The directory is distributed by Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) at trade fairs, exhibitions, overseas tourist offices and trade partners across the world.
Those eligible for listing are:
- Producers or suppliers of ‘green’ products or services.
- Producers or suppliers of items made from recycled or 100% natural material.
- People or facilities that undertake Environmental Impact Assessments.
- People or facilities that undertake environmental audits or offer consultancy services for tourism or environment related projects.
The hard copy charges are kshs.250 per copy.