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RALEIGH, N.C.—Later this year, the NC GreenTravel Initiative will turn five years old. It is very possible that 200 travel-related businesses in North Carolina will be participating in the program by that point. When the program launched toward the end of 2011, its focus was on hotels and restaurants. Today, led by Tom Rhodes, NC Green Travel Initiative Program Manager, many kinds of travel-related businesses have been recognized as green businesses—attractions, museums, parks, vacation rentals, convention centers, festivals and other travel-oriented establishments. “Although I wear several ‘hats’, the majority of my workday involves tasks associated with the green travel program,” Rhodes says. Businesses participating in the NC GreenTravel Initiative first fill out an application geared toward their type of business. There is even an application customized for breweries. There is no cost to participate. Applications are reviewed by Rhodes. While there is no mandatory site visit in order to become a certified business, Rhodes says there are 62 retirees in North Carolina who volunteer their time to do site assessments covering water, waste and energy. “They provide the service at no cost,” Rhodes says, adding that some of the volunteers previously worked for NC DEACS.
NATIONAL REPORT—As reported in Green Lodging News earlier this year, a number of suppliers are making it increasingly easy to offer filtered water to guests through water bottle filling stations. These stations, connected to a water supply, allow one to eliminate plastic bottle waste and even create a new revenue stream through the sale of reusable bottles. Making the location of water dispensing easier, several suppliers are now offering atmospheric water generators. These water dispensers need no water supply connection because they pull water from the air before filtering it for guests. Technology varies per supplier with some even offering bottling machines for on-site water bottling. The advantages to atmospheric water generation are many. Machines can be placed anywhere there is a 110 volt connection. Solar powered “cordless” versions are also available. The machines do not pull water from sources that may be limited due to drought or other environmental conditions. There is no plastic bottle waste or recycling of plastic bottles. Storage of plastic bottles and the associated labor is eliminated.
NEEDHAM, MASS.—Almost three years after launching its GreenLeaders program, TripAdvisor has good reason to be ecstatic about its success. There are now more than 11,000 participating properties in 66 global markets across North America, Latin America, Europe, as well as Australia and New Zealand. In the last year alone, TripAdvisor has added nearly 3,000 GreenLeaders participants. “When we launched TripAdvisor GreenLeaders just a few years ago to help our community of millions of travelers plan and book greener trips, we never imagined it would grow so quickly to become the world’s largest green program,” says Ryan Dillon, Responsible Travel Specialist at TripAdvisor and manager of GreenLeaders. GreenLeaders hotels and B&Bs must complete an application in order to participate in the free, voluntary program. Questions in the application address topics ranging from towel reuse to staff training to preventive maintenance. Qualifying properties are marked with a badge on their TripAdvisor page. To see a list of the business’s environmentally friendly practices, travelers click on the property’s GreenLeader badge.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—As spring arrives, meeting planners are working tirelessly to secure event space for 2016 meetings. The Hyatt Place Washington D.C./U.S. Capitol, located in downtown Washington, D.C., just north of the U.S. Capitol, is offering meeting planners an opportunity to help their favorite charities while providing top rated service and value to their attendees. The hotel is managed by Crescent Hotels & Resorts, an operator of more than 100 hotels throughout North America, including 15 in the Washington, D.C. area.
AMELIA ISLAND, FLA.—Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort is planning a “Fish to Fork” weekend. The competition, benefiting the James Beard Scholarship Foundation, will be hosted over Mother’s Day weekend, May 5 to 8. Two-time Fish to Fork winner Daven Wardynski, Executive Chef at the Omni resort, will welcome six competing chefs and guests for myriad events throughout the weekend. From taste tests to an actual fishing expedition alongside award-winning chefs, Fish to Fork offers a rare opportunity for gastronomes who have a love for the sea.
MIAMI—Spafinder Wellness 365 released Part II of its eighth annual State of Wellness Travel Report, based on a survey of travel agents in North America and Europe and designed to offer ongoing insight into wellness travel trends. The new report examined the shifting demographics of the wellness traveler, with a special focus on the impact that age has on traveler’s preferences. Survey respondents indicate that every wellness element at properties, from healthy food to fitness classes to spiritual healing, ranked as more important for younger travelers (49 and under, Millennials and Gen X), than for Baby Boomers (50 and older), the generation that jumpstarted the wellness revolution. The most significant differences are in outdoor adventure (i.e., hiking, surfing, etc.), environmentally friendly properties, voluntourism programs, and fitness/yoga classes and facilities, which all matter significantly more to younger travelers. The most desirable property types for Baby Boomers are luxury spa resorts, while for Millennials and Gen X, eco/adventure resorts and authentic yoga retreats rank much higher.
NATIONAL REPORT—Hotels around the planet are lining up activities for Earth Hour. The annual event will take place on Saturday, March 19 at 8:30 p.m. local time. The Earth Hour global initiative, now in its 10th year, aims to raise awareness about climate change and the need to find solutions to the world’s environmental problems. Las Vegas Sands, IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts, and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide are a few of the companies with properties participating this year. Sands ECO360°, the global corporate sustainability program of Las Vegas Sands (LVS), is launching its fourth annual “I Will If You Will” (IWIYW) global challenge by collaborating with the company’s team members and encouraging them to take action to reduce their impact on climate change. The occasion marks one of LVS’ three global team member engagement events that are conducted annually to support environmental sustainability. During the week of March 13 to 19, team members are taking multiple actions to participate in the IWIYW Challenge.
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND—The Global Destination Sustainability Index has launched. It is the first-ever sustainability ranking for event destinations worldwide. Initiated by ICCA’s Scandinavian Chapter and MCI, the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDSI-Index) is supported by IMEX and ICCA (the International Congress and Convention Assn.). The GDS-Index aims to promote the sustainable growth of international meeting destinations, highlighting best practices and responsible business tourism. In a world increasingly focused on responsible business and environmental impact, the GDS-Index helps destinations to engage clients with sustainability, align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and drive the adoption, promotion and recognition of sustainable practices in their city. The GDS-Index will evaluate the sustainability performance of cities and bureaus in four key areas: city environmental strategy and infrastructure; city social sustainability performance; industry supplier support (restaurants, hotels and convention centers; and convention bureau strategy and initiatives. “Our vision is to have over 100 cities benchmarking and collaborating together by 2020,” said Guy Bigwood, MCI Group Sustainability Director and GDS-Index project leader.
PORTLAND, ORE.—Since 2012, visitors to Oregon contributed more than $90,000 to enhance communities across the state through an innovative philanthropy program created by Travel Oregon and Sustainable Travel International. Funds are directed to projects throughout Oregon that improve the environment, support local culture and enrich the destination through the Travel Oregon Forever Fund. The Travel Oregon Forever Fund is the first statewide program of its kind. The goal of the program is to improve experiences for visitors and locals by connecting them to participating businesses that directly improve and enhance Oregon communities. “Travel Oregon not only strives to create economic impact and meaningful jobs in every corner of the state, but we also want to preserve and enhance this beautiful place we call home,” said Todd Davidson, Travel Oregon CEO. “The projects we support improve local economies, build community, and showcase the culture that makes Oregon a premier destination for visitors and Oregonians alike.” Travel Oregon Forever Fund dollars support one project from each of Oregon’s seven tourism regions.
ALEXANDRIA, VA.—The Convention Industry Council (CIC) announced that the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) will become a council of CIC with a specific charter and mandate to advocate and educate around sustainability in the MICE industry operating under the direction of its board. In a move designed to demonstrate the importance of collaboration in a crowded marketplace, the merger will allow the GMIC to reach a wider audience and open its doors and assets to the full industry with the aim to have a deeper impact. The Convention Industry Council is the preeminent organization representing all segments of the meetings and events industry. As such, GMIC, under the umbrella of CIC, will be the go-to source for neutral and credible resources, information, and community to advance sustainable practices for the broader event industry. “GMIC is the meetings industry’s most respected authority on sustainability, and the Board of Directors has been working tirelessly over the last several months to finalize an exciting new partnership to take GMIC to new heights,” said Karen Kotowski, CMP, CEO of the Convention Industry Council.
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