Industry Conferences

Green Key present at the Independent Hotel Show

At the Independent Hotel Show, Green Key’s International Director participated in a panel discussion about why sustainability is good for the hotel industry.


The Independent Hotel Show is a yearly tourism fair for hotels and other hospitality facilities. For the first time, the event was held in Amsterdam (the Netherlands) and included a session about sustainability in the seminar programme. Finn Bolding Thomsen (Green Key International Director) was invited to participate in a panel discussion about why sustainability is good for the hotel industry.

The panel discussion was led by Marie-Noelle Keijzer from WeForest, and other panelists were Inge van Weert from QO Amsterdam and Marco Lemmers from Conscious Hotel Group. Both hotel groups have a very high focus on sustainability, and all hotels in the Conscious Hotel Group hold the Green Key award.


Finn Bolding Thomsen informed about the Green Key programme and how research (e.g. from shows that travellers are increasingly interested in staying in accommodations that work with sustainability. A number of companies have the requirement in their CSR policy to use sustainable accommodation and conference facilities, and in some countries, public authorities have similar requirements as part of their public purchasing policy.

To the question about whether implementing sustainability is expensive for hotels, Finn Bolding Thomsen highlighted that training and information lead to change in the behaviour of staff and guests and contribute to sustainability without other investments. Change of light bulbs and water saving devices have a cost, but as the price of energy and water is increasing, the return on investment is faster. More sophisticated changes require an investment, and there was a discussion about the possibility to charge guests a slightly higher price as a consequence of the work with sustainability. During the panel discussion, there was also a discussion about how hotels should lead the way in reducing their carbon emission before asking guests to compensate the carbon emission of their stay. The panel discussion was very well attended.


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:


Green Key present at the international tourism fair, World Travel Market

Green Key International Director, Finn Bolding Thomsen, is attending the World Travel Market, one of the largest tourism fairs globally taking place in London (England) on 6-8 November 2017.


During the World Travel Market, there is a range of events and presentations dedicated to Responsible Tourism. The presentations of main interest for Green Key includes debates about the major environmental challenges: carbon and water, the next steps for certification schemes, the priorities for responsible tourism in the coming five years, how tourism businesses can embrace the UN Sustainable Development Goals, how to engage travellers and holidaymakers, how to market sustainable tourism, etc.

In the discussion about the main priorities for responsible tourism in the coming five years, the main focus areas identified were environmental responsibility (lower carbon emissions, good waste- and water management, etc.) as well as social responsibility (attention to vulnerable groups, inclusive tourism, etc.). In the discussion about certification schemes, the importance of staying focused in order to make certification relevant and affordance for the hospitality sector was highlighted. In the debate about engaging travellers, the importance of story-telling and personalised messages were emphasised.

During the World Travel Market, Green Key International also had a range of meetings with partners and other stakeholders relevant for Green Key, including researchers, consultants, major tour operators, leading hotel chains, tourism organisations, etc. 

In addition, World Responsible Tourism Day is celebrated on the last day of the fair, on 8 November and the Global Responsible Tourism Awards were once again handed out. As 2017 has been designated as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, the participants were challenged to report their progress against one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. To learn more about the Awards, visit WTM Responsible Tourism Awards 2017. This year's awards were given for the categories Best for Accommodation, Best for Carbon Reduction, Best for Communication, Best Community Initiative, Best for Poverty Reduction and Best Tour Operator. Download the 'Leaders in Responsible Tourism Report' and see all the Winners here


Green Key for hotels promoted during the Qatar Green Building Conference

During the Qatar Green Building Conference, a workshop dedicated to Green Key for interested hotels in Qatar was held on 31 October 2017.

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W Doha Hotel & Residences has had the Green Key award since 2013. In June 2017, Qatar Green Building Council became an associate member of the Foundation for Environmental Education and took over the management of Green Key in Qatar.

The Green Key workshop on 31 October 2017 during the Qatar Green Building Conference will be the first opportunity for other hotels in Qatar to know about Green Key in Qatar under the management of Qatar Green Building Council.

Meshal al-Shamari, director of Qatar Green Building Council, says to Gulf Times: “We will be launching a dedicated session for hospitality during the conference. The Green Key programme aims to certify green hotels in Qatar. We are doing the first workshop in the conference, and we have plenty of hotels lined up at the conference and attending the workshop.”

Green Key at the Lanzarote Summit about Sustainable Tourism

From 19-20 October 2017 the world's leading experts in sustainable tourism from America and Europe gathered in Lanzarote (Spain) to discuss and exchange ideas about the latest trends in sustainable tourism.


The international conference with the title "Sustainability: A key factor of competitiveness in the tourism industry" took place on the island of Lanzarote, where the World Charter on Sustainable Tourism +20 was was adopted at the first World Conference on Sustainable Tourism  in 1995. 22 years later, in the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, sustainable tourism experts from all around the world met again in Lanzarote to discuss the progress made in sustainable tourism and to give a perspective for the future of the industry. Green Key attended the conference to follow the latest discussions in sustainable tourism. Among the panellists were representatives from World Tourism Organization, UNESCO, Global Sustainable Tourism Council, TUI Travel, Tripadvisor, Responsible Tourism Institute as well as other practitioners from the tourism industry and representatives from different governmental tourism agencies in Spain. 

Main areas of discussion where the tourism industry's perspective on sustainability, the marketing of sustainability, innovation and technology in sustainable tourism, models of the industry and benefits for the local community and the tourism industry and its relation to the 17 SDGs. Among the key factors of sustainable development for the tourism industry identified at the conference were multi-stakeholder involvement, the estimation of the value of tourism compared to competing, less sustainable industries, as well as making sustainability tangible for tourists by marketing it as a quality attribute. Certification and award programmes like Green Key were highlighted as effective tools for the tourism industry to achieve their sustainability goals. 

Read more about the conference here.