Green Key highlighted as an example of sustainable tourism at Helsinki Travel Fair

Green Key gave a presentation about the latest trends in sustainable tourism with Green Key as an example at the Helsinki Travel Fair, and Green Key was also interviewed about the subject for the national TV and radio station in Finland!


 Green Key International Director, Finn Bolding Thomsen, and Green Key National Operator for Finland, Marketta Viljasaari, were invited by the Helsinki Travel Fair to present the latest trends in sustainable tourism with Green Key as an example.

Finn Bolding Thomsen highlighted that the tourism industry is looking at ways to follow the UN Sustainable Development Goals, where for example large players in the industry such as Marriott Hotel Group and TUI Travel have incorporated their contribution to the goals into the corporate social responsibility policy of their companies. Concerning the travellers, research shows that they are increasingly interested in and willing to support sustainable development. This can be done by considering the mode of transportation, ensure carbon offset from travels, book environmentally friendly accommodation (such as Green Key awarded establishments), and when purchasing souvenirs to carefully consider locally produced items that are not made from endangered species of flora or fauna.

Marketta Viljasaari went into more detail about how the Green Key programme can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals for hotels and other tourism establishments with examples from the Green Key programme in Finland. After her presentation, three new establishments (including the first campsite in Finland) received the Green Key award – bringing the number of awarded establishments in Finland to 74 establishments.

During the attendance at the Helsinki Travel Fair, Marketta Viljasaari and Finn Bolding Thomsen were interviewed about sustainable tourism and Green Key to YLE, the national TV and radio station in Finland.

Here you can find the links to the interviews:


CSR increases employees’ loyalty and effectiveness

Different studies suggest that CSR programmes have a positive effect on the satisfaction and loyalty of staff.

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND—Many of the world’s corporations engage in charitable projects. Some do so because they sincerely want to improve the world, but others create programs due to the expectations of customers, owners, and other stakeholders. A pair of studies from Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne point to a key group that pays careful attention to corporate social responsibility: employees. The studies, by EHL Professor Steffen Raub—together with Stephan Blunschi of the Swiss retailer MIGROS in one case—investigate the mechanism by which CSR increases employees’ loyalty and effectiveness.

In recent years CSR has become a focus of many businesses’ corporate strategy. For example, a growing number of companies are seeking certification for their social and environmental performance by the nonprofit B Lab (more than 2,100 firms in 50 countries, including 20 in Switzerland such as Montagne Alternative, an alpine lodge; Impact Hub Geneva, a business incubator; and NOW Transforming Hospitality, a sustainable travel foundation). One of the reasons for seeking such certification is to overcome skepticism about a firm’s corporate philanthropy, given that many stakeholders, including employees, sense that these initiatives may be more about increasing brand image than generating actual social impact.

Raub and Blunschi found that hospitality organizations which engage in CSR activities, “can reap substantial benefits in terms of improved job attitudes and greater engagement in discretionary work behaviors.” Examining CSR in a U.K. hotel chain, they sought to answer this question: Exactly how does corporate social responsibility enhance employees’ performance?

Job Satisfaction Improved

One essential element that supports excellent employee performance is the concept of task significance, which is, in turn supported by employees’ perception that a company is doing good in the world. When Raub and Blunschi surveyed 211 employees in four hotels operated by the U.K. hotel chain, they found that favorable perceptions of task significance contributed to employees’ job performance by boosting helping behavior, increasing helpful suggestions and initiative, and reducing the emotional exhaustion that often leads to voluntary turnover. Job satisfaction also improved, again as employees perceived that the company’s charitable efforts meant that they considered their jobs to be more significant.

In a subsequent study, which involved a pharmaceutical distributor in Thailand and a laboratory study of U.S. business students, Raub extended the initial investigation to gauge the value of employees themselves participating in charitable efforts, in addition to sharing information about corporate largesse.

Looking at employees’ involvement in charitable efforts sponsored by the pharmaceutical company, Raub found a connection between employees’ participation and their job satisfaction, as well as their attitude toward their employer. However, there is a mediating factor, namely, the employees must believe that the firm’s charitable intentions are sincere and its motives are benevolent. In both the field study in Thailand and in the laboratory study in the U.S. business school, Raub reports consistent evidence of higher attitudinal and behavioral commitment to companies that involve employees in philanthropic efforts.

Employee Involvement is Important

One other benefit of employee involvement in corporate philanthropy is that outsiders may also be favorably influenced in their attitude regarding a company. In this way, Raub finds that “employee involvement in philanthropy, over and above information about the philanthropic activity itself, is sufficient to cause higher attitudinal commitment, behavioral commitment, and benevolent attributions.”

Two factors limit this favorable response to corporate philanthropy. The first is employees’ inferences about the company’s intentions together with their own identity as organizational members in connection with the CSR efforts. The second is that participation must be voluntary.

The result of these efforts, however, are beneficial to the company and society generally. Raub concludes that employee involvement leads individuals to make more discretionary contributions to companies, partly in the form of spreading goodwill about the company. This goodwill can extend to potential employees.

In summary, both studies demonstrate the value of CSR programs for a firm, regarding stakeholders both inside and outside a firm—provided the CSR efforts are genuine.

Dr. Steffen Raub is a professor of organizational behavior at Ecole hôteliere de Lausanne (EHL).

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The local products that make your restaurant a really different experience

Do you use the local food as a marketing tool to promote your restaurant? Taking advantage of regional produce and products will add to a visitor’s experience and will place your restaurant as a ‘must visit’ in your region. For visitors to your area, sampling local produce is as much a part of the visitors' experience as seeing the sights.


Diners’ expectations have shifted

In the past, local and visiting diners would search out exotic ingredients and meals. Local products were for home, not dining out, and certainly not a priority. Restaurants made names for themselves on providing diners with meals full of imported ingredients. A couple of big shifts have reversed this, with people now placing a higher value on local products.

One of these shifts is an increased understanding of the environmental impacts of producing food. After years of excessive monocultures, breeds inherently belonging to a given ecosystem have been gradually reintroduced. Protecting biodiversity has become a well-known necessity which can be noticed with the reappearance of some ‘forgotten’ varieties which used to be grown in the area. As a result, more local specialities can be found in the menus, which is also advantageous for the local economy.

Another shift is because of the ease of travel. In the past, there was very little chance of many people travelling to the source of exotic ingredients, so the restaurant industry was responsible for introducing new flavours and cooking styles to local customers. Now, many people would prefer to have meals based on typical local ingredients of the area they visit.

What local products can you offer your guests?

What is the focus in your local area? Does it form part of your restaurant experience? This depends on your region. Some areas have obvious links to produce and any restaurant would be ill-advised to ignore them. A prime example is Tuscany – could you imagine going to a restaurant in Tuscany and having Australian wine on the menu?

There are many regions which have signature products and have built their tourism on promoting these products. But there are also many areas which do not have a defining food industry. Where do you start then, to promote local produce to your restaurant guests?

An easy place to start is to remove imported bottled water from your menu, instead offering local spring, filtered or tap water.

Another great start is to look at your menu. Do you have seasonal menus with local products? Do you clearly display the regional certifications and logos guaranteeing that the product has been grown and harvested in harmony with nature?

Help is available

There are a number of organisations in Europe that will help restaurant owners by putting them in touch with local producers. If you are in the UK, Sustainweb can help. Across Europe, Slow Food can help with local information. Many areas also have regional food groups, which can be great sources of information and assistance.

However, remember that sometimes local does not mean eco-friendly. If the product has to be grown in heavily heated greenhouses, it may mean that it does more harm than actually transporting it from its original place! So do not go extreme in sourcing all your menu with local products. Keeping some imported goods on your menu because you know they are more environmentally friendly is actually a sign of environmental maturity.

It is good to add information to your menu about your providers and showcase the labels and certifications your food has been awarded. It is a way of educating your diners about the environmental impacts of food and promote the local products which are truly beneficial for your region. It is a sign you support local farmers and producers and care for the environment.

Shifting to local products in your restaurant can have so many benefits…linking farmers with diners in the fewest possible steps, promoting local strengths and promoting your restaurant as an environmental leader and valued contributor to the success of your region.

Spread the news

Educating your staff on local products, and any stories surrounding the source of the products they can share will engage your diners with the movement of food from farm to plate. Inform them that not only ‘food miles’ matter (i.e. the distance the food is transported) but the conditions in which the food is produced. They should feel proud of supporting agricultural practices that preserve biodiversity and minimise emissions to water and air, as well as respecting the seasons of each type of product. And when these can be coupled with local production, even better.



Green Key launches in Northern Ireland

Environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is introducing Green Key to Northern Ireland.


Green Key is an internationally recognised eco-certification for the hospitality sector, thereby boosting the local tourism and hospitality industry and championing sustainable best practices.

Dr Susann Power, Operations Manager at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and Green Key National Operator states: “A Green Key stands for an establishment’s promise to its guests that by opting to stay with such an establishment, they are helping to make a difference on an environmental and sustainability level. Researchers at the University of Québec have demonstrated that customers generally perceive eco-certifications as favourable and that customer satisfaction levels increase when a hotel has adopted sustainable operations and has been awarded an eco-certification. Green Key is thus a real opportunity for hospitality businesses in Northern Ireland to reach those discerning visitors.”

Finn Bolding Thomsen, International Green Key Director at the Foundation for Environmental Education explains: “Green Key is a well-proven and recognised international programme for establishments in the hospitality industry. More and more establishments wish to work with its sustainability efforts, so Green Key is experiencing a growth in number of participating establishments and number of countries with awarded establishments. I am very happy to see the programme now also being launched in Northern Ireland so that interested establishments can obtain local support from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful for the implementation of Green Key.”

Hospitality businesses in Northern Ireland interested in learning more about Green Key and how it can help them boost their green credentials should contact Dr Susann Power at or on +44 28 9073 6920.

Green Key now has national representation in 41 countries around the world.

Radisson Blu Hotels pilot the “Blu Planet Housekeeping” initiative

As part of Carlson Rezidor’s responsible business programme with special focus on sustainability actions in September 2017, a number of Radisson Blu hotels have had the option to participate in the “Blu Planet Housekeeping” initiative.

Blu Planet Housekeeping2.jpg

Did you know that water covers more than 70% of our planet, but only 1% of it is actually drinkable? This means that the hospitality sector has to be as responsible as possible about its water usage. And that is why Radisson Blu hotels are focusing on preserving water through water mindfulness as part of the Responsible Business Action Month in September each year.

In September 2017, Radisson Blu launched the “Blu Planet Housekeeping” initiative. This is a housekeeping-bypass programme, designed to help conserve resources like water and energy but also resulting in a reduced environmental footprint for the hotels. The pilot has been adopted by more than 60 Radisson Blu hotels with all of the Radisson Blu hotels in the Baltic States as pioneers in this initiative.

So how does the scheme work? The idea is that guests accept to forgo the housekeeping service in their room, in return for a charity donation. So, for each night that a guest opts in to the “Blu Planet Housekeeping” initiative, they can request that the hotel, on their behalf, make a donation to Rezidor’s water aid partner, Just a Drop supporting sustainable clean water, sanitation and hygiene projects in Africa, India and Peru.

Blu Planet Housekeeping.jpg

Talking Point: How can hotels switch employees on to energy saving?

Claire Maugham, Director of Policy and Communications at Smart Energy GB says employees are a crucial resource in good energy management at any hotel and keeping them switched on to sustainability is really important. In today’s Talking Point she describes some ways to keep employees fully engaged on the energy front.

Saving energy in the hotel sector.

Many of the small changes required to save energy in hotels across the globe are the same as those in the home – even if they are sometimes on a larger scale.

Whether it’s turning down the heating and air conditioning, turning lighting and other appliances off, or trying to save hot water, there is a plethora of ways to tap into the behaviours that employees and guests are already aware of. Drawing on experience in the home and topical sustainability events can be a great way to encourage behaviour change and get employees thinking about energy – at work as well as at home.

For example, in Great Britain, the rollout of energy smart meters to every home is providing an opportunity for hospitality employers to engage with their staff on sustainability issues like never before. Some hotel staff are likely to already have smart meters in their homes and others will be offered the opportunity to upgrade shortly.

Smart meters are installed by energy suppliers, and they show consumers how much energy they are using in pounds and pence, in near real time. The new technology is encouraging people across Britain to change the way they use energy, with eight in ten people with smart meters taking steps to reduce energy waste at home.

The national rollout presents the perfect opportunity to inspire energy behaviour change in workplaces. Simply put, behaviour change in the home is vital to make consumers and employees smarter and greener at work too.

Smart Energy GB worked with Hilton Worldwide's Energy and Environment Manager, to coordinate a session at Hilton’s head office to share information about smart meters with their staff. Encouraging employees at all levels to understand the concept of smart energy helps receptiveness for further smart energy initiatives.

A guide for employers

How to engage employees with energy saving is a challenge that the International Tourism Partnership has been working on with the Carbon Trust.

They have produced this easy to use guide for employers. The guide explains how to design and run an energy efficiency awareness campaign in the workplace, including giving practical advice to employees on how they can benefit from getting a smart meter and saving energy at home. You can download a copy at, or get started with the tips below.

Tips for kick-starting engagement with energy efficiency

  • To engage employees you need to be creative

Homes, personal experiences and saving money, are topics that can help make a campaign relevant to your employees.

Creative campaigns can provide information on sustainability options outside the office, such as transport or energy saving at home, to make a connection with workplace behaviour.

User-generated content is always popular and effective at bringing campaigns to life – ask your employees for their views and stories to really engage them in the subject.

  • Make data visual

People respond well to visual data. If you have smart/half-hourly metering in the workplace you could use the data it provides to help employees feel more connected to their energy use at home and at work.

  • Tap in to a range of motivations

Look at people’s existing values and motivations and build specific behaviour change campaigns around those. For example, a campaign around productivity gains from planning and daily routine changes are more relevant to staff than a campaign addressing costs and carbon.

Source: Green Hotelier

Marriott latest hotel group to align CSR with the Global Goals

Marriott International launched the group’s new CSR strategy called Serve 360 and is the latest global group to align responsible business activities with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Marriott's Serve 360 Empower commitments

Marriott's Serve 360 Empower commitments

The company says that the new sustainability and social impact initiative is designed to foster business growth while balancing the needs of associates, customers, owners, the environment and communities.

Called Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction, the platform includes commitments for 2025 to:

  • Reduce water by 15%, carbon by 30%, waste by 45% and food waste by 50%
  • Contribute 15 million associate volunteer hours, 25% of which will be skills-based, to capitalize on personal talents and core business skills
  • Train 100% of associates to know the signs of human trafficking
  • Embed human rights criteria in recruitment and sourcing policies

Ray Bennett, Chief Global Officer, Global Operations at Marriott International and Serve 360 Executive Leadership Council Co-Chair said, “As the global hospitality leader with properties and associates across 125 countries and territories, Marriott International has a global responsibility and unique opportunity to be a force for good in all aspects of our business – from helping to reduce carbon and water use to providing our associates with human trafficking awareness training.

“We recognise that how we do business is as important as the business that we do. Incorporating environmental and social initiatives, including human rights awareness training, into our business is not only the right thing to do, it has a direct impact on our profits and beyond.”

Guided by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, Marriott created Serve 360 to guide the company’s commitment and deliver positive results through four priority areas or “coordinates”:

  • Nurture Our World – Advancing the resiliency and development of our communities.
  • Sustain Responsible Operations – Reducing the company’s environmental impacts, sourcing responsibly and building and operating sustainable hotels.
  • Empower Through Opportunity – Helping people prepare for jobs in the hospitality industry.
  • Welcome All & Advance Human Rights – Creating a safe and welcoming world for associates and travellers alike.

Tricia Primrose, Global Chief Communications Officer at Marriott International and Serve 360 Executive Leadership Council Co-Chair said, “Building off our 2007 Sustainability goals, Marriott is proud to issue our next generation of goals, inclusive of social and human rights targets to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

“Associates and customers want to work for and do business with a company that aligns with their values and drives positive community impact. We are proud to be part of the solution.”

The platform also builds on Marriott’s support for ITP’s Goals and Vision for 2030. The International Tourism Partnership is the hotel industry’s voice for sustainability, leading the sector to a fairer future for all. The organisation launched Goals on carbon, water, youth employment and human rights, supported by its members. They are:

  • YOUTH EMPLOYMENT: Collectively impact one million young people through employability programmes by 2030, thereby doubling the members’ current impact on youth unemployment.
  • CARBON: Embrace science-based targets, and encourage the wider industry to join in reducing emissions at scale
  • WATER: Embed water stewardship programmes to reduce the number of people affected by water scarcity; also improve water-use efficiency and identify ways to address water scarcity.
  • HUMAN RIGHTS: Raise awareness of human rights risks, embed human rights into corporate governance, and address risks arising in the labour supply chain and during hotel construction.

Learn more about Serve 360 and Marriott’s commitments here.

Source: Green Hotelier

Green Key and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals: SDG #17

Green Key is a leading standard of excellence in the field of sustainable tourism, guiding tourism establishments to do their part in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN. In the past months, we presented all 17 SDGs and explained their connection to Green Key. Today we talk about the last goal, SDG 17!


In 2015, the UN member states adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to guide governments, the private sector and civil society in transforming our world into a safer, fairer and more livable place.   

Sustainability lies at the heart of Green Key, which is why the programme inherently contributes to all of the 17 goals. Today, we talk about Goal 17: "Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development"

Green Key’s global profile involves cooperation and partnerships between multiple stakeholders from the public, private and NGO sectors at various levels: At the local level between staff, guests, suppliers and the surrounding community and at the national and international level between NGOs, corporate partners, authorities and other partners involved in sustainable tourism. 

How does Green Key help to achieve goal 17?

  • Through Green Key's National Operators in 40 countries, Green Key encompasses a global network of sustainable tourism experts that share their experiences, knowledge and ideas within the programme
  • In most countries that run the Green Key programme, national juries composed of multiple stakeholders take the decision on the award which ensures a broad and independent verification of the award
  • All Green Key awarded establishments must establish an active collaboration with relevant local stakeholders to enhance the active role the establishment plays in creating environmental awareness in the local and in promoting environmentally friendly practices among their collaboration partners (criterion 1.6)
  • The programme enhances the partnership between the awarded establishments and the local community by:
    • actively supporting green activities or initiatives for social community development including, among others, education, health, sanitation and infrastructure (criterion 11.4)
    • offering the means for local small entrepreneurs to develop and sell sustainable products that are based on the area’s nature, history, and culture (criterion 11.5)
    • preventing conflicts between indigenous and local communities and tourists with the help of a code of conduct for activities in respective communities (criterion 11.6)
    • purchasing local and fair-trade services and goods

A document describing Green Key’s overall contribution to all 17 Sustainable Development Goals can be downloaded here.

Commitment to the surrounding communities at Alaya Tulum

Alaya Tulum Hotel in Mexico shows a strong commitment to the surrounding communities by creating employment opportunities and by promoting sustainable development among the local region.

Local farm in Mexico.

Alaya Tulum participated in the Green Key Best Practice Competition 2017 organized earlier this year with the theme “partnership and local engagement for sustainable development”. In January 2017, the hotel established a partnership with a family business of one of the employees at the hotel. The business is a 3 hectare organic farm called ‘Lemons’ 150 km from Tulum and it provides produce exclusively for Alaya Tulum Hotel. Through its operation, the farm provides work for a family of 4 people.

The sustainable production entails a better way of using existing resources at the farm, it promotes recycling of nutrients and helps improve the soil.  Organic production is based on the integration of practices of tilling the field, which includes a great amount of labour. This generates employment in the same area or region and prevents leakage of foreign exchange in the procurement of external inputs.  

There are several benefits of organic farming, which include:

  • No use of chemicals, pesticides or fertilizers
  • The produce has a flavor, color and aroma of the highest quality
  • The produce contains more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants

The locally produced products also help in preventing global warming, as the transportation lengths are minimized and by purchasing produce from the farm, Alaya Tulum supports the local economy.

Through their established partnership, the farm delivers produce to the hotel 3 times a week. The produce and amounts (per month) include:

  • 2000 pieces of coconut
  • 200 parts of pineapple
  • 160 kg lemons
  • 640 kg oranges
  • 20 kg dragon fruit
  • 12 kg habanero chili

The goal of Alaya Tulum is to maintain the relationship with the family business and to start working with new suppliers in order to increase the variety of products and the number of deliveries to the hotel. The hotel also want to offer more new and healthy dishes on their menu. In addition to their existing partnership, the hotel also encourages the use of organic, fair trade- labelled, ecolabelled and locally produced products when purchasing.