Seals of Approval


No handy green pages exist for lodges, tour operators, and destinations, but there are scores of programs that can help travelers evaluate everything from beaches to bungalows. We sifted through them to find the most common and reputable ones....


No handy green pages exist for lodges, tour operators, and destinations, but there are scores of programs that can help travelers evaluate everything from beaches to bungalows. We sifted through them to find the most common and reputable ones.

CERT Green Globe
WHAT All tourism services, from airlines to accommodations
WHERE Global
THE LOWDOWN Participants are first benchmarked according to regional best-practice standards, then certified when they prove they are operating at a high environmental standard.

CERT Ecotel
WHAT Accommodations
WHERE Global
THE LOWDOWN Hotels that meet primary criteria are inspected and then awarded between 1 and 5 Ecotel Globes. Certifications must be renewed every two years, and Ecotel inspects hotels unannounced.

CERT Audubon Green Leaf
WHAT Accommodations
WHERE U.S., Canada, and Europe
THE LOWDOWN Hotels submit a survey on their efforts in four areas of environmental stewardship, which are evaluated and then rated on a scale of 1 to 5 by TerraChoice, an environmental marketing organization.

CERT Sustainable Tourism Eco-Certification Program (STEP)
WHAT Tour operators, accommodations, attractions, transportation services, and community-based tourism
WHERE Global
THE LOWDOWN Planners reviewed more than a dozen certification schemes to develop this one, in which tourism providers self-measure, assess, and agree to enhance their environmental efforts.

CERT Blue Flag
WHAT Beaches and marinas
WHERE Global
THE LOWDOWN Beaches and marinas are evaluated on water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, and safety and services. Blue Flags must be renewed every year.

CERT Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
WHAT Buildings
WHERE United States
THE LOWDOWN The U.S. Green Building Council rates hotels and other buildings as certified, silver, gold or platinum according to a multi-tiered ranking system.

CERT Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST)
WHAT Hotels and other travel-related businesses
WHERE Costa Rica
THE LOWDOWN Businesses are ranked on a scale of 0 to 5 according to how they operate their facilities, conserve the adjacent land, communicate with customers, and support and involve the local community.

CERT Green Seal
WHAT
Hotels
WHERE Global
THE LOWDOWN Hotels submit an application detailing their efforts, which is evaluated in-office.

CERT Green Tourism Business Scheme
WHAT Hotels, attractions, tour operators, and conference centers
WHERE U.K.
THE LOWDOWN Service providers are evaluated on environmental, economic, and social issues, from efficient lighting to conservation, and then given a ranking of bronze, silver, or gold.

CERT Green Key
WHAT Hotels, youth hostels, restaurants, and campsites
WHERE Global
THE LOWDOWN
Participants complete applications detailing their environmental efforts. On-site visits are conducted by Green Key staffers.

CERT Pan Parks
WHAT Protected areas
WHERE
Europe
THE LOWDOWN Independent auditors evaluate parks’ sustainable management plans. Sponsored by the World Wildlife Federation.

CERT Nature and Ecotourism Accreditation Programme
WHAT Tours, attractions, and accommodations
WHERE Australia
THE LOWDOWN Applications are independently assessed and audited before they’re rated on economic, environmental, and social sustainability.

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