Monday, May 23, 2016

Two Great Resources for Choosing Green Travel Options for You & Your Business

For the Conservation-Conscious Traveler
So you’ve bought the hybrid car, completed an energy audit on your home, invested in some level of renewable energy to power your home, and researched energy-conscious companies to support. What are other choices can you make to live more sustainably?
Making sure you are choosing green and eco-conscious travel options is another way to ramp up your sustainability quotient.  Whether you are making domestic or international travel plans, the growth of a number of green and ecotourism associations can help you locate green lodging, restaurants, resorts and more.
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) is a non-profit association committed to promoting responsible tourism practices that benefit conservation and communities. With a global network that spans more than 190 countries, TIES is leading the way to make travel and tourism more sustainable. TIES offers a fully searchable database of environmentally-conscious businesses that can help travelers find destinations that fit their conservation and sustainability ideals.
Virginia’s Green Travel Alliance encourages green practices in the state’s tourism industry. ​ More than 1600 tourism businesses and organizations have self-certified their environmental commitments with the Virginia Green program, making it the #1 state-based green tourism program in the United States. 
For Businesses Looking for More Green Choices
Joining organizations like TIES and VGTA not only provide tourism-related businesses with increased visibility, but offer access to cutting-edge conservation and sustainability innovation and training for best practices.  
VGTA and TIES offer a number of business-enhancing opportunities. Some specific programs include:
Industry-Specific Best Practices Resources. Organizations like VGTA and TIES help your business incorporate best practices specific to the tourism industry via workshops, conferences and regular updates on projects, industry events, publications, speaking engagements and networking tools.
Access to data, reports and annual awards can also help businesses measure the benefits of incorporating more green practices and promote that aspect of their company to a wider audience. With hotels alone spending an estimated $7.5 billion on energy per year in 2012, having accurate data on what the introduction of wind turbines, solar panels and/or a myriad of other energy efficient technologies can do to reduce a company’s operating expenses, as well as knowing that such investments can be used as a highly-desirable marketing asset are invaluable resources for many tourism businesses.
Education & Engagement. Educating and engaging the general public towards making environmentally sound consumer choices is also a huge part of the VGTA and TIES missions. Showcasing green products and services at expos around the world like this recent event in Washington, DC is just one way that these type organizations are supporting and promoting green businesses.
The Virginia Green Travel Alliance adds an additional “lead by example” aspect to their educational efforts by recruiting, training and deploying “green team” volunteers at festivals and sporting events around the state to effectively bring recycling, waste reduction, and composting of food wastes to an increasing number of activities each year. This not only makes for greener events, but it emphasizes the importance of choosing green options for travel and entertainment activities.
Act as a Clearinghouse & Green Network. One of the main focuses of Virginia’s Green Travel Alliance is support and promotion of innovative practices and projects through unique partnerships. The Virginia Green Supplier Network is a great example of this business benefit, which provides Virginia Green participants access to a database of green products and services. TIES offers a similar member-only network that promotes information, products and services exchange between members.
Choosing green options for running your business or for vacation planning is easier than ever, thanks to the ongoing growth of organizations like the Virginia Green Travel Alliance and The International Ecotourism Society. Consumers and businesses alike can reap the benefits of better energy and conservation practices through education, promotion and networking via collaborative efforts like these, and know they are doing right by our communities and our planet!

Are you a destination business looking for ways to decrease your energy impact but are not quite ready for a major installation? Contact Sunrunr today for some effective entry-level options for your tourism business.

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