The scheme, which provides customers with an independent guide to hotels, B&Bs and tourist attractions which are actively trying to help the environment, has been validated by VisitEngland, VisitWales and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, and endorsed by VisitScotland and Failte Ireland.
“It is fantastic that we are now officially recognised and endorsed by all five of the UK tourism agencies,” said Andrea Nicholas of GBTS. “We have spent 15 years working closely with members throughout the UK to refine and devise workable criteria. The rigorous validation process used by the tourism agencies is testament to the work we have achieved and the dedication of our thousands of members.”
Launched by directors Nicholas and Jon Proctor,GTBS is now operational in all regions of the UK and Ireland with over 1,350 certified businesses in England, 800 in Scotland, 100 in Wales, 50 in Ireland and 15 in Northern Ireland.
Members are awarded a Bronze, Silver or Gold grading based on more than 145 criteria, including the installation of efficient lighting and heating, the promotion of nature conservation, use of renewable energy, use of local produce and community involvement.
Independent family businesses and multi-national hotel chains operating in the UK are all graded in the same way with members reporting savings of up to more than £1million a year on energy and consumable costs.
Dr Xavier Font of Leeds Metropolitan University's International Centre for Responsible Tourism, which carried out the sustainable tourism certification validation, said: “With over 2,400 certified businesses in Britain and Ireland, the Green Tourism Business Scheme is the largest sustainable tourism certification in the world.
“It differs from other programmes by employing only full time staff including auditors, which increases its quality systems and consistency.”
In 2010, Jurys Inn became the first hotel chain to be awarded Gold Statuses for its entire portfolio. Last year, the Landmark London achieved the Gold Status, joining 13 other hotels in the Capital that hold the accreditation, including One Aldwich, The Cavendish and The May Fair.