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EU sustainability label for tourism and hospitality could reduce confusion

Around three quarters of tourism operators, restaurant owners and certification schemes are open to the idea of a European label to certify the quality and environmental sustainability of their activities.

The study, carried out for the European Parliament’s committee on transport and tourism and reported by Ends Europe this week, discovered around 100 quality and 159 environmental and sustainability labelling schemes on the continent. However, market penetration is typically below 1% and the schemes don’t tend to be well promoted at a national level.

Two surveys were undertaken for the research. One was with the likes of national tourism associations, tour operators and travel agent associations, hotel and restaurant associations, NGOs and national and regional ministries. The other collected the opinions of organisations issuing tourism labels, for both quality and sustainability.

Whilst harmonisation of the myriad schemes currently available is unnecessary, an EU-wide label could “raise the profile of the EU as a quality and sustainable destination”.

Sustainability doesn’t tend to be a priority for tourists, but some evidence has suggested that eco-labels may influence behaviour whilst on holiday – when selecting a restaurant or hotel, for example.

The research showed that labelling is important to consumer confidence and acts as an incentive to improve quality and sustainability. However, the schemes need to be properly regulated.

The “umbrella label” could also reduce confusion amongst consumers who “often poorly understand how the label attributes are reflected in service provision”.