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Greenbox Launches Ireland First Ecotourism Labelling System

green-boxThe Greenbox Company recently launched its innovative Ecotourism Labelling System and also acknowledged the first ecotourism holiday and short break packages to be accredited by the system at a special awards ceremony. The launch took place at F?ilte Ireland annual National Tourism Conference. In total twelve individual businesses operating in the Greenbox region were awarded their certificates by Shaun Quinn, CEO Failte Ireland and Mr David Sollitt, Executive Director of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES).

Work on the label began in autumn 2006 by a panel comprised of Greenbox Staff and Greenbox Network member businesses, as well as representatives from Sligo Institute of Technology and The Western Development Commission (WDC). Over a number of months a set of criteria was designed that would reflect the efforts of existing ecotourism operators in the Greenbox region, who were already providing experiences for guests that were ased in nature, providing interpretation and information, environmentally friendly, contributing to conservation and local communities, responsibly marketed and culturally respectful Criteria were also chosen that would reflect the uniqueness of the region, particularly in a cross border peace and reconciliation context.

The standard was piloted in Spring 2007 by a number of tourism businesses and involved the provision of a training and mentoring programme for those embarking on the certification process. In the Autumn the first applications were assessed and approved by an independent panel comprised of representatives from F?ilte Ireland, National Standards Authority of Ireland and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The development of an ecotourism sector in Ireland is regarded as an important strategy in addressing recent issues including the trend towards shorter urban breaks which has posed significant challenges for rural areas. The North West in particular has experienced a 19.4% decline in international visitor numbers between 2000 and 2004. Ecotourism by its nature tends to be more rural and visitors tend to spend 8-14 days per trip. Based on international figures, the Irish market has a potential value of up to 1 million a year.

Speaking at the event Greenbox CEO Mary Mulvey said Today really marks a watershed in Irish tourism and a way forward to develop a new type of tourism based on strongly held environmental principles and closely linked to learning, conservation and local communities. The Greenbox has developed a practical and user friendly Ecotourism Labelling approach which is designed to meet the need of small businesses. The ecotourism packages created to date have been very well received by tour operators and the responsible travel media

Valere Tjolle

 
 

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