Green Key’s achievements in 2016 are proudly featured in the FEE Annual Report

Green Key is proud to have its 2016 activities summarised in the newly published 2016 Annual Report of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE)

There are the following highlights in the Green Key programme during last year:

  • Growth in the programme to around 2,600 establishments with first awarded establishments in Kenya, Mauritius and Hong Kong (China), and 57 countries now being actively involved in the programme. See the overview of Green Key sites here
  • New Green Key criteria and explanatory notes for hotels and hostels, campsites and holiday parks, small accommodations, conference centres, restaurants and attractions took effect from July 2016 after recognition by Global Sustainable Tourism Council. See the Green Key criteria here
  • Development of carbon and water management tools (based on the HCMI and HWMI tools) that are freely available on the Green Key website. Read more about HCMI tool here and HWMI tool here
  • New cooperation agreements with online booking and travel companies (Expedia, Glooby, Travganic and TiCATi) and with various organisation partners (EKOenergy and Clean the World). Read more about our web partners here and NGO partners here 
  • Green Key actively contributes to the realisation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2015-2030. More information can be found here
  • Green Key has been preparing to be an active participant in the UN Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017. More information can be found here

In the FEE Annual Report 2016, there is as well information about the activities in Green Key’s sister programmes: Blue Flag (eco-label for beaches, marinas and boats) and FEE’s three school-based programmes: Eco-Schools, Young Reporters for the Environment and Learning about Forests.

You can download the full FEE Annual Report 2016 here!

Educational Green Day at Vihula Manor Country Club & Spa

On 4 May 2017, a Green Day took place at Vihula Manor Country Club & Spa in Estonia to raise awareness on important environmental issues among the employees as well as give an overview of Green Key activities.

Vihula Manor Country Club & Spa and Green Key

Vihula Manor Country Club & Spa has Green Key, an international environmental label awarded to accommodation establishments following the principles of a sustainable economy. Accommodation can be selected according to various criteria: it can be the price, location and more. When the essential needs are met, some people also consider reducing their ecological footprint. With Green Key, we want to educate our visitors on how to create the harmony between quality, comfort and eco-friendly.

The sustainable way of thinking is followed in every activity of Vihula Manor. We use ground source heating and solar energy, we have diminished the consumption of water and electricity and we also ask our guests to behave in an environment-friendly way and suggest them active movement in nature for vacationing. In addition, proper gardening products are grown in the garden of Vihula Manor for the kitchen of the hotel’s restaurant and eco-SPA, an eco-farm is opened with lambs, rabbits and chickens.

Green Day

The day started out with an informative lecture for all the employees about Green Key. Vihula Manor Country Club & Spa views and new development plan were introduced in connection with the renewal of Green Key brand. In addition, different changes were introduced that Vihula Manor has done to reduce the ecological footprint. Workgroups were formed to brainstorm ideas on how to collect and sort different types of waste in different departments and houses at Vihula Manor Country Club & Spa.

In the second part of the day, employees visited a very popular Seven Bridges walking path and it turned out that even the people who have worked the longest at Vihula Manor haven’t walked the trail before. It was a positive and new experience for all the participants. During the walk, different questions about the history of the manor, bridge names and Green Key were asked. Green Day ended with a lunch where all the important topics were summed up. Also, thoughts for the next Gren Day were collected!

Find more information about Green Key at Vihula Manor Country Club & Spa

Green Key celebrating the International Day for Biological Diversity 2017 themed "Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism"

Each year on 22 May, The International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) is celebrated, and in 2017 the theme of the IDB is "Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism". Green Key is participating in IDB through its various biodiversity activities organised at the Green Key awarded establishments. 


Beehives on the terrace of the Park Inn by Radisson Linz Hotel


In 2000, The United Nations declared 22 May as The International Day for Biological Diversity to raise awareness of biodiversity issues worldwide. Each year, the IDB is celebrated under another theme. This year, The Convention on Biological Diversity of the United Nations has chosen the theme "Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism" to support the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and to highlight the relationship between tourism and biodiversity.

Biodiversity, at the level of species and ecosystems, provides an important foundation for many aspects of tourism. Recognition of the great importance to tourism economies of attractive landscapes and a rich biodiversity underpins the political and economic case for biodiversity conservation. Many issues addressed under the Convention on Biological Diversity directly affect the tourism sector. A well-managed tourist sector can contribute significantly to reducing threats to, and maintain or increase, key wildlife populations and biodiversity values through tourism revenue.
— The Convention on Biological Diversity of the United Nations, 2017

Read the full statement about the IDB here


Being a standard of excellence in sustainable tourism, Green Key does inherently consider the protection and enhancement of biodiversity in its certification. To name a few examples: Food from endangered animals or plants are not permitted in Green Key awarded establishments, native plants are preferably to be used when maintaining the gardens and endangered plants and animals must not be sold or displayed in the establishments. 

Many of our awarded sites go even beyond our criteria and do an outstanding work when it comes to the conservation of biodiversity:

  • The Radisson Blu Elizabete Hotel in Riga (Latvia) not only hosts beehives on its rooftop, but also brews its very own honey craft beer out of the honey. read more
  • The Thon Hotel EU located in Brussels (Belgium) has established a green roof and an insect hotel to increase biodiversity. read more
  • In cooperation with the Floresta Unida Foundation, the NEYA Lisboa Hotel (Portugal) runs a reforestation project. read more
  • Both the The Westin Paris-Vendôme (France) and the Park Inn by Radisson Linz Hotel (Austria) have beehives with honey bees that produce honey that in the hotels' restaurants. read more here and here
  • The Hotel & Beach Club Villa Pescadores (Mexico) organised a coastal cleaning day with and introduction to  biodiversity conservation. read more

Green Key would like to thank all awarded establishments for their commitment to biodiversity conservation and wishes everyone a happy International Day for Biological Diversity!

Study reveals that travellers are increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of travels

A report by seems to indicate an increase in hotel guests willing to accept more sustainable behaviours as part of their travel.

Although the number of guests seeking sustainable hotels has almost doubled over the past year, the report also suggests hotels need to do more to communicate what guest actions constitute genuinely sustainable travel.

The findings from’s global Sustainable Travel Report suggest 65% of global travellers expressed their intention to stay in eco-friendly accommodation versus 34% who stayed in one or more last year.

The results show:

  • 68% confirm they are more likely to consider choosing an accommodation knowing that it was eco-friendly
  • 36% would choose an eco-friendly accommodation because it provides a more locally-relevant experience


  • 46% of global travellers already consider themselves a sustainable traveller
  • 38% perceive the buying of locally-made products and supporting local artisans as sustainable travel

Chinese (93%), Brazilian (83%) and Spanish (80%) travellers were the most likely to look for sustainable accommodation, whilst sustainable actions have declined in travellers from Australia, Japan and the US.

Interestingly, 79% of those surveyed say sustainable considerations also impact their mode of transport when travelling, with 43% taking public transport whenever possible, 42% trying to walk, bike or hike as much as possible and nearly one fifth (18%) flying less to reduce their carbon footprint.

Pepijn Rijvers, Chief Marketing Officer at said, “Just as where we stay on holiday plays a pivotal role in the enjoyment of our trip, so it also plays an increasingly important role in helping people to travel sustainably. Whether by serving locally grown food, using or selling local crafts, conserving water and energy, recycling or connecting guests with the local community, accommodations today are working on a range of sustainability efforts and it’s heartening to see travellers so keen to explore and embrace these. Since adding eco-based interests and destination endorsements to our Passion Search tool at, we’ve also seen a growing number of endorsements left by travellers, so the sustainable appetite is there.”

Hotels should note that guests are also open to make luxury adjustments in order to stay somewhere eco-friendly. The vast majority of global travellers would be happy to accept this, with 94% willing to stay in a property with energy saving light bulbs, 89% in one with HVAC units that only run while you’re in the room and 80% happy with low flow showerheads.


  • 79% Happy with less frequent toiletry replacement
  • 75% Happy to have linen and towel changes less frequently
  • 64% Happy to accept higher cost for food because its’ all locally produced

The term ‘sustainable travel’ continues to mean many things to many people, but the role of accommodations in helping travellers to achieve their sustainable travel goals is clear. The research shows that over half (56%) consider staying in eco-friendly accommodation as sustainable travel, topping the list of what travellers think when they hear the term. For well over a third, it means conserving water by reusing towels and bed sheets (38%) and conserving the environment by reducing use of amenity goods such as shampoo, soap, toothbrush, shaving razor (35%).

For many, sustainable travel is also synonymous with a more authentic, local experience. 38% perceive the buying of locally-made products and supporting local artisans as sustainable travel, while 36% would choose an eco-friendly accommodation because it provides a more locally-relevant experience.

Reasons for choosing eco-friendly accommodation includes:

  • To help reduce environmental impact 52%
  • They provide a more locally-relevant experience 36%
  • They treat the local community better 31%
  • They tend to provide more locally-sourced/organic food 30%

Top-5 most important green/eco-friendly practices when considering a property to stay in:

  • Solar Energy 67%
  • Sustainable water system 43%
  • Low-flow showers/toilets 36%
  • Organic restaurants/food options 31%
  • Recycling baskets in room 29%

Rijvers added, “At we have a mission to empower people to experience the world, a world that should not be taken for granted. We are continually exploring improved ways to uncover and share the sustainability efforts of our accommodation partners with those searching and selecting on our site, and as part of our own commitment to improving destinations worldwide, we recently launched Booster. Through this accelerator programme for start-ups in sustainable tourism, we will help maximise the impact that these different ventures across the globe can have. Ensuring a sustainable future is a collaborative effort, one that means sharing our expertise and working together, whether destinations, accommodations, travel providers or travellers.”

The report reveals some interesting insights for hoteliers taking part in Responsible Business Week, who can be reassured that guests are increasingly expecting their accommodation to be sustainable and considerate of the environment and local people. Later this week Green Hotelier will be announcing the winners of the 2017 Green Hotelier Awards which help showcase the best responsible, sustainable and environmentally friendly practices in hotels around the world.


Thon Hotel EU and its various biodiversity actions

Green Key awarded Thon Hotel EU located in Brussels (Belgium) has established a green roof and an insect hotel to increase biodiversity

The green roof of the Thon EU hotel with lavender, poaceae and the vegetable garden. (Picture by E. Uskokovic)

The green roof of the Thon EU hotel with lavender, poaceae and the vegetable garden. (Picture by E. Uskokovic)

Thon Hotel EU is located in an old building that was renovated in April 2012 to be changed into a hotel. From the beginning of the renovation project there was a desire by the director of the hotel to include environmentally friendly" solutions. In addition to evaluate the use of resources and energy, the environmental project goes further. Indeed, the hotel offers many complementary actions in favour of the environment, such as the installation of a green roof, a vegetable garden, an insect hotel and two beehives.

The green roof:

The green roof is made up of poaceae and lavender. The flowers of lavender are pollinated by bees belonging to the two beehives which are also located on the roof. The beehives give the hotel the great opportunity to produce its own honey and offer it to the customers during breakfast. There is also a vegetable garden, which is an excellent source of healthy food and biodiversity when managed without pesticides. The green roof also allows water retention and regulation of rain flow. In addition, guests are delighted to have a view of their room on a bit of nature. 

The insect hotel

The bees and other insects need shelter in an urban environment where their natural habitat is becoming increasingly scarce. Besides supporting the biodiversity, it inspires some of the hotel guests to have an insect hotel at home. The insect hotel is not only favorable for small six legged animals, but it is also an excellent educational tool for children. It is a real satisfaction for the hotel to spread good ideas for the preservation of biodiversity among the customers and the staff.

The insect hotel on the roof of the Thon Hotel EU. (Picture by E. Uskokovic)

The insect hotel on the roof of the Thon Hotel EU. (Picture by E. Uskokovic)

Green Key and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals: SDG #1

Green Key is a leading standard of excellence in the field of sustainable tourism, guiding tourism establishments in doing their part in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN. In our new feature series we will present each of the 17 SDGs and explain their connection to Green Key. 

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 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 1: "End poverty in all its forms everywhere".

What is Goal 1 about?

According to the UN " Goal 1 calls for an end to poverty in all its manifestations by 2030. It also aims to ensure social protection for the poor and vulnerable, increase access to basic services and support people harmed by climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters." In the link above, you can read about the targets and indicators to Goal 1. 

How does Green Key help to achieve Goal 1?

The Green Key criteria include several requirements and guidelines that indirectly contribute to the eradication of poverty:

  • All employees are paid at least a living wage, so the salary is not below the legal minimum salary. (criterion 11.1)
  • All Green Key awarded sites are encouraged to be equitable in hiring women and local minorities, including in management positions, while restraining from child labour. (criterion 11.3)
  • Green Key awarded sites are asked to actively supports green activities or initiatives for social community development including, among others, education, health, sanitation and infrastructure. (criterion 11.4)
  • The programme promotes the provision of 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)
  • Local food products are to be preferably purchased by the Green Key awarded sites to support the local economy and to shorten transportation routes. (criterion 8.1)
  • The Green Key awarded establishments are advised to purchase local and fair-trade services and goods to stimulate the businesses in the local area and contribute to the reduction of transportation costs. (criterion 13.7)

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







Landal Bad Kleinkirchheim bringing old traditions back to life

During their stay in the Green Key certified Landal Park Bad Kleinkirchheim in Austria, guests get an insight into the local farming traditions from the old days. 

The Landal Bad Kleinkirchheim is located in Carinthia in the eastern Alps, surrounded by green mountain slopes and clear alpine lakes. Before becoming a popular tourism destination, the area was dominated by agriculture and farming. To keep the old traditions of the local farmers alive, Landal Bad Kleinkirchheim decided to exhibit some of their original appliances and tools in their park. And not only this: some of the old tools are actually brought into action. To cut the grass on the slopes and in the garden, the park uses an antique hand scythe. The cut grass is dried on traditional hay racks called "Schwedenreiter". Guests can witness these practices from their terraces or balconies and read more about it on the wooden information board all over the park.

"These old tools and appliances often anstonish our guests, as - especially children-  have never heard about them before" says, Lisa Makoru, employee of Landal Bad Kleinkirchheim. 



Renewable energy: hydraulic wheel of the ‘Moulin du Geer’

The ‘Moulin du Geer’ a newly Green Key awarded accommodation located in Wallonia (southern part of Belgium), is since January 2008 producing between 70% and 100% of its electricity from a water mill

The hydraulic wheel of the ‘Moulin du Geer’. (Picture by E.Uskokovic)

The hydraulic wheel of the ‘Moulin du Geer’. (Picture by E.Uskokovic)

Indeed, the owner had restarted the driving wheel of the water mill. Since January 2008 a major part of the electricity of the establishment is product by this system.

The buildings of the mill are dated between the 12th and 19th century and are located in a historical site that been converted into lodges and a meeting room in order to restore the heritage. The accommodation’s facilities have been labelled Green Key in 2016.

At the same time, the heritage of the edges of streams are restored. For the owner to preserve the heritage whether natural or architectural belongs to the same philosophy: to preserve the environment from degradation.

Participate in the 2017 Green Lodging Trends Report powered by Greenview

The Green Lodging Trends Report is the lodging industry's annual exercise to assess and catalyse green innovation, best practices, and awareness regarding the state of sustainability across hotels worldwide. 

Over 100 best practices benchmarked for trends and highlights in 10 areas of hotel sustainability and social responsibility

Over 100 best practices benchmarked for trends and highlights in 10 areas of hotel sustainability and social responsibility

Green Key is supporting the Green Lodging Trend Report 2017 powered by Greenview, a leader in advancing hotel sustainability, and managed by Green Lodging News, lodging's leading environmental news source. Green Key awarded establishments are encouraged to participate in the survey and to take advantage of many benefits related to the report.

Why should you participate in the 2017 Green Lodging Trends Report?:

  • Get a free compare report! - Find out where your property is aligned with the best practices and where it is behind with peers locally and globally.
  • Discover new innovative practices that hotels are implementing.
  • Use information to improve and ultimately outperform your competitors.
  • Highlight your innovations to showcase to the world in the annual trends report.

Sign-up Process:

  • Click sign up to register your property on the Greenview Portal.
  • Property details (step 1) and contact details (step 2) are required.
  • Select free (survey) option (step 3) to complete registration.
  • Receive login credentials from
  • Login here with your credentials.
  • Go to Green Surveys Menu => Green Lodging Trends Report 2017.

Submit by 15 June 2017!