STANDARDS & BEST PRACTICES
This focus 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.
The program promotes standards and best practices through the following initiatives.
1. Eco-rating Certification
Launched in 2002 in corporation with tourism industry stakeholders, Eco-rating Certification Scheme 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 recognize 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 based on the current sustainable tourism standards. The standard is recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council as equivalent to its industry criteria for accommodation facilities and adapted to the local context. There are 3 certification levels namely;
- Bronze ecorated: This is the entry level and is awarded to facilities that demonstrate awareness of and commitment to environmental conservation, responsible resource use
and socio-economic investment.
- Silver ecorated: This is the intermediary level and it is awarded to facilities that demonstrate innovation – progress towards achieving excellence in environmental conservation, responsible resource use and socio-economic investment.
- Gold ecorated: It is the highest level of certification, and 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.
To expand the scope of certification, Ecotourism Kenya launched the City Hotels Certification Program in 2022. The new program seeks to certify accommodation facilities in urban areas such as cities and towns.
Express interest in ecorating via email@example.com
2. Travelife for Tour Operators Certification
Ecotourism Kenya in partnership with Travelife for Tour Operators is supporting tour companies in Kenya towards achieving sustainability in their 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 of sustainability performance.
Through coaching support offered to the tour companies in the program combined with certification, the program seeks to achieve amongst others:
a) Increased recognition of the key environmental, social and economic impacts of tourism
b) Effective communication of sustainability achievements to clients.
c) Using sustainability achievements to increase competitiveness in the global market.
There are 3 progressive levels in Travelife for Tour Operators Certification:
a) Travelife Engaged– This is the entry level where the company commits itself towards sustainability and introduces the appropriate management procedures.
b) Travelife Partner– This next level shows the company is committed to sustainability by complying with the basic Travelife sustainability requirements.
c) Travelife Certified– The highest level which clearly exhibits excellence in sustainability and has proof of internationally accredited highest sustainability performance.
Express interest in this initiative via firstname.lastname@example.org
Ecobytes is a weekly segment introduced by Ecotourism Kenya, aimed at disseminating information on ecotourism and responsible tourism best practices. It includes write-ups on various topics ranging from environmental conservation, energy & water conservation,waste management, health & safety, sustainable purchasing & consumption, staff welfare & training, community development, culture, among others.
Ecobytes is targeted at tourism practitioners and enterprises looking to improve their business operations through promoting ethical practices while protecting the environment and improving the lives of the local communities around them. EK also shares case studies
of best practice initiatives undertaken by various eco-rated facilities around the country.
Feel free to share with us your best practice initiatives and we will be glad to share with our broad membership!
3. GO4SDGS: UPSCALING SUSTAINABLE TOURISM IN EAST AFRICA
About the project:
Sustainable tourism presents opportunities that contribute to the realization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but there is a need to decouple tourism growth from environmental degradation and contribute to improved human well-being.
UNEP, in collaboration with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), is implementing the European Union-funded SWITCH Africa Green (SAG) program which is supporting Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, and Uganda) in the transition to an inclusive green economy. The program is being implemented in four priority sectors: integrated waste management, sustainable agriculture, green manufacturing, and sustainable tourism. UNEP aims to mainstream sustainability into tourism development by demonstrating sustainable tourism’s economic, environmental, and socio-cultural benefits.
Upscaling sustainable tourism in East Africa by developing sustainable tourism certification standards; innovating private-sector financing mechanisms for sustainable tourism and building capacity in MSMEs to access and participate in sustainable tourism industry value chains
Objectives of the project
The objectives of this SSFA are to upscale sustainable tourism in East Africa by:
- Developing mandatory national sustainable tourism certification standards;
- Supporting the uptake of innovative private-sector financing mechanisms for sustainable tourism;
- Building capacity in MSMEs to access and participate in sustainable tourism industry value chains.
- United Nations World Environmental Programme( UNEP)
- Ecotourism Kenya (EK)
- GO4SDGS Global Opportunities for Sustainable Development Goals (GO4SDGS)
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 email@example.com.