Successful first two years for Green Key in Åland, Finland

Green Key was launched on the Åland Islands in the beginning of 2014. The Åland Islands then became the first region in Finland which offered accommodations the opportunity to develop and structure their environmental work through the Green Key programme.

The programme is developing at a rapid rate in Finland, where 30 accommodations are certified and three of the certified facilities are located on the Åland Islands. Green Key Åland has an active cooperation with Green Key in mainland Finland, but the programmes are managed independently from each other. The programme has a local coordination in Åland Islands so that the accommodations are able to get support in their work in Swedish. The criteria are adapted to local conditions in order to achieve the maximum benefit for the programme on the Åland Islands.

Andersson's Guesthouse and Silverskär granted renewal of the Green Key label in late 2015 after receiving the certification for the first time a year earlier. Both accommodations have very good experience of the first year with Green Key.

"The review of our accommodations have been even more positive than in the past and we have had more guests than ever this summer", says Anette Andersson from Andersson's Guesthouse.

"Our target group is partly companies. Many companies today have an environmental policy which contains that they prefer environmentally certified facilities when they travel. We have, through our Green Key certification, been able to participate with offers to the companies since we can prove that have a structured environmental work", says Fia Karlsson from Silverskär.

The management and maintenance of Green Key Åland is made through active cooperation between the Åland Nature & Environment, Visit Åland and the Åland Trade Association. The organisations recognize Green Key Åland as a vital part of achieving the local vision of a green Åland in a blue Baltic Sea, and the vision of Åland becoming a sustainable destination. The organisations think that vision of a sustainable destination is an extremely important milestone for the governmental decision of a sustainable Åland by year 2051.

"Our work with Green Key is an important step for the local sustainability. Sustainability work itself is a basis so that Åland's attractiveness as a destination is maintained and strengthened", says Micke Larsson, Chairman of the Ålands Natur & Miljö.

"The development of a structured environmental work can be compared with WiFi. Available WiFi quickly went from being an added value to a hygiene factor, an important criterion for the visitor when they choose with accommodation to visit. An environmental label can in near future be a condition that the common guest takes into account when choosing the construction of the travel, says Anders Ekström", CEO of the Åland Trade Association.

"We will use the work with Green Key Åland as an inspiration so that we to a greater extent take into account the sustainability of Visit Åland's activities for the coming year. We are very pleased that a program is offered that both fit large and small accommodation in Åland, so everyone has an opportunity to develop the environmental Work", says Lotta Berner Sjölund, CEO at Visit Åland.

Åland University of Applied Sciences, Government of Åland and Green Key Finland are also involved in the cooperation by participating in the programme's steering committee and jury. Andersson's Guesthouse, Silverskär and Hotel Arkipelag are the Green Key labeled establishments on Åland. Brobacka Guesthouse, Djurviks Gusthouse and Park Hotel have an active environmental work in progress with the goal of obtaining the Green Key label.

"The interest in our bike rental at Andersson's Guesthouse has been great this year. We have informed the guests about our Åland breakfast, which has received very positive feedback. Despite the fact that we have had more guests this summer the consumption of water decreased by 6% and electricity by 15%", says Anette Andersson.

"We think of the environment's best interests in matters large and small - from our purchases to heating with solar panels and geothermal heating. For Silverskär it has always been important to burden the environment as little as possible. Since we are Green Key certified, we have an eco-label to prove it and we can communicate our commitment to our guests", says Johan Mörn on Silverskär.

This year the local Green Key work has in addition to certification fees been financially supported with the Bank of Åland's Environmental bonus.

"The first two years with the Green Key in Åland has exceeded expectations. We have a very fruitful dialogue with participating accommodations and it is incredibly inspiring to follow the installations environmental work and to get the opportunity to develop a strong, global program at the local level to a very practical contribution to environmental actions that make a difference on Åland, both as a society and tourist destination", says Karin Rosenberg, local manager for Green Key Åland.