BIOSPHERE HOLIDAY RENTAL HOUSES STANDARD

INTERNATIONAL STANDARD FOR HOLIDAY RENTAL HOUSES

TABLE OF CONTENTS

BIOSPHERE HOLIDAYS RENTALS

INTRODUCTION: THE RESPONSIBLE TOURISM SYSTEM APPLIED TO HOLIDAY RENTAL HOUSES

  1. INSTRUMENTS FOR A RESPONSIBLE TOURISM POLICY

1.1. RESPONSIBLE TOURISM POLICY

1.2. RESPONSIBILITY AND AUTHORITY

1.3. PLAN OF ACTION

1.4. STAFF TRAINING AND AWARENESS

1.6. LEGAL AND REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS

  1. PRESERVATION AND IMPROVEMENT OF CULTURAL HERITAGE

2.1. PROMOTION OF KNOWLEDGE AMONG VISITORS

  1. ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE DESTINATION

3.1. PROMOTION OF THE ECONOCMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE COMMUNITY

3.2. RESPONSIBLE ATTITUDE TOWARDS EMPLOYEES

  1. ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION

4.1. SOIL PROTECTION

4.2. ENERGY MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL

4.3. WATER MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL

4.4. WASTE MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL

  1. CLIENT SATISFACTION AND INVOLVEMENT IN THE RESPONSIBLE TOURISM SYSTEM 

5.1. CUSTOMER SERVICE QUALITY

5.2. CLIENT SAFETY

5.4. INFORMATION AND AWARENESS-RISING SERVICES FOR THE DESTINATION

 

INTRODUCTION: THE RESPONSIBLE TOURISM SYSTEM APPLIED TO HOLIDAY RENTAL HOMES

Sustainable tourism meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunities for the future. It is based on resource management, so all economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled, while respecting cultural integrity, basic ecological processes, biodiversity and life support systems.

On the other hand, the term "holiday rental" is used when defining an accommodation model that promotes the interaction with local residents and allows the discovery of less-known urban areas from the point of view of tourism. In such model, the main motivation of tourists is their integration within the lifestyle of the local population, enjoying the physical, cultural and human environment of the area.

It may therefore seem reasonable to think that holiday rentals can become an important tool for sustainable development due to the role they play in the cross-cutting economic development of the environment and in the preservation of cultural and natural heritage. It also improves the social wellbeing of local communities. In fact, holiday rentals enable the rehabilitation of depressed urban areas thanks to the diversification of the accommodation offer of the destination. It also enables the maintenance, protection and even promotion of heritage and cultural assets thanks to the integration of the tourist experience within different elements of the destination and the subsequent exchange of socio-cultural characteristics.

In this scenario, the role of holiday rentals becomes fundamental, for it represents the instrument through which the visitor can fully integrate in the environment, staying in a type of accommodation that allows a direct contact with the destination's reality.

However, in order for such process to develop successfully, we need a set of guidelines and requirements that orient holiday rental homes in their path towards sustainability considering the environmental, social, cultural and economic factors upon which they have or may have an influence.

We also need a tangible and reliable guarantee for visitors, so they feel their expectations are going to be met.

This standard comes as an answer for such necessities, since it establishes a set of requirements which cover all areas of sustainability, including the visitor's involvement, as well as quality and safety aspects, and finally awarding a recognisable distinction supporting this responsible behaviour oriented towards the visitors' expectations.

1. INSTRUMENTS FOR A RESPONSIBLE TOURISM POLICY

In order to fulfil the principles of sustainability, we need to have some basic management tools to back up the Sustainable Tourism System.

These tools aim to obtain the necessary commitment from the establishment, as well as means to its dissemination and compliance.

1.1. RESPONSIBLE TOURISM POLICY

1.1.1.- The establishment must have a documented, translated (at least into the most frequent languages of its clients) and dated Responsible Tourism Policy. This Policy shall be formally approved and permanently communicated both to the staff and the public, and it shall express the commitment to sustainable tourism, particularly:

- Adoption of the principles of the World Charter for Sustainable Tourism.

- Commitment to prevent negative impacts of facilities and activities, and to maximize positive impacts.

- Commitment to on-going improvement in all areas of sustainability: Socio-cultural, economic and environmental.

- Commitment to the satisfaction of internal and external clients.

1.2. RESPONSIBILITY AND AUTHORITY

1.2.1.- The Management shall appoint a person or group of persons responsible for the system.

1.3. PLAN OF ACTION

1.3.1.- A Plan of Action based on the Responsible Tourism Policy shall be established. It shall include all improvement actions considered for implementation by the establishment. This plan shall be structured with the following contents:

- A prioritised list of objectives to be achieved, specifying the person responsible for achieving each point.

- A general description of the measures designed to achieve these objectives and the deadlines and means for implementing the measures. The total timeline shall not exceed three years, by which time the Plan must have been reviewed and updated, setting new targets for improvement.

- A definition of the follow-up planned for these objectives, to monitor compliance and to take action if necessary.

1.4. STAFF TRAINING AND AWARENESS

- The establishment shall ensure that all personnel involved have an adequate level of training and awareness in terms of sustainability.

1.5. LEGAL AND REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS

- The establishment shall ensure the constant knowledge of all applicable legal and regulatory requirements in terms of sustainability, safety and quality in order to ensure compliance. They must therefore keep an up-to-date record which includes all of them in a clear and understandable way.

2. PRESERVATION AND IMPROVEMENT OF CULTURAL HERITAGE

For humankind, cultural diversity is as necessary as biological diversity is for living beings. Cultural resources are the historic memory of a community and the expression of its artistic, ethical and religious sentiment. Thus, the cultural factor of a destination is an identity in itself, and it should therefore be preserved for the benefit of present and future generations. The establishment's role in this preservation is essential, not only through direct action but also though its influence on visitors.

2.1. PROMOTION OF KNOWLEDGE AMONG VISITORS

2.1.1.- Whenever possible, the establishment shall promote the visitors' knowledge about the local culture through their services and existing informative elements.

3. ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE DESTINATION

Tourism offers the possibility of improving the economic lifestyle of the local population, because income generally increases and is better distributed in tourist destinations, as long as it is planned according to sustainability principles. In order to do so, accommodation establishments shall contribute with their abilities to improve the socio-economic development of the destination in which they are active. Moreover, it must ensure a responsible behaviour towards its employees, ensuring decent conditions.

3.1. PROMOTION OF THE ECONOCMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE COMMUNITY

3.1.1.- The establishment shall carry out a responsible purchasing policy which prioritizes local suppliers, fair trade products and products from sustainable sources.

3.1.2.- The establishment shall cooperate with local administrations in promoted sustainability or social projects, such as Local Agenda 21, Biosphere Destination certification, etc.

3.1.3.- It shall promote the employment of local residents shall if necessary.

3.2. RESPONSIBLE ATTITUDE TOWARDS EMPLOYEES

3.2.1.- The recruitment of local employees shall be promoted.

4. ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION

Biological diversity is essential for ensuring the continuity of life on this planet, because it maintains the environmental conditions that we need. Natural resources are what made up the tourist area: Landscape, geographical relief, climate, sea, rivers and lakes, physical environment, flora and fauna. Their conservation is therefore crucial to the survival of tourism itself, and if establishments do not control their own impact on the environment, tourism itself could come to an end.

4.1. SOIL PROTECTION

4.1.1.- The establishment shall minimize the risks of soil and groundwater pollution. In order to do so, it shall ensure the environmental compatibility of cleaning agents, plant-protection products and fertilizers used, as well as the quality of water used for irrigation.

4.2. ENERGY MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL

4.2.1.- The establishment shall have an updated and operational system allowing the record, measure, control and monitor of data related to energy consumption. There shall be a control of the records and the correlation between consumption and occupation levels of the establishment, season and any other relevant information which might be significant for the data interpretation.

4.2.1.- The establishment shall minimize the consumption of conventional energy through the use of efficient equipment, low-consumption lightbulbs, renewable energies, bioclimatic architectural principles, etc.

4.2.3.- In case an energy certificate is available, the establishment shall validate it with the corresponding stamp.

4.3. WATER MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL

4.3.1.- The establishment shall have an updated and operational system allowing the record, control, measure and interpretation of data related to water consumption. Such system will be the basic element of a water management improvement system.

4.3.5.- The establishment shall promote the use of reused water, using purified water whenever possible and minimizing the consumption of potable water for irrigation.

4.4. WASTE MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL

4.4.1.- The establishment will approve good practices in terms of waste minimization and avoid excessive or inappropriate consumption.

4.4.2.- Bath kits or amenities shall be supplied by refillable dispensers.

4.4.3.- The establishment shall ensure the appropriate separation and management of all waste in generates, delivering them to authorized management entities.

4.4.4.- The final disposal of waste within the establishment, previous to the external collection, shall fulfil the following requirements:

- All waste shall be stored separately in a protected site, inside resistant and safe containers that are properly marked for each type of waste.

- The location of such containers shall not disturb customers or neighbours.

- Measures shall be implemented in order to avoid accidental risks (spills, etc.) and keep access under control.

5. CLIENT SATISFACTION AND INVOLVEMENT IN THE RESPONSIBLE TOURISM SYSTEM

Tourism quality has traditionally focused on every aspect related to safety, comfort and service. These are basic aspects for the tourist experience and shall therefore be considered by this standard. However, if we understand quality as meeting the expectations of tourists, we shall also include aspects as fundamental as the ones previously addressed. Conservation of natural and cultural resources, socio-economic development of the destination, etc. We shall therefore involve visitors in our efforts in terms of sustainability, so they appreciate them and become part of them. We will so achieve a tourist product which, besides fulfilling all basic requirements in terms of quality, will go one step beyond thanks to the involvement of the visitor within the reality of the destination visited through knowledge and awareness. Finally, our facilities shall be accessible to everyone.

5.1. CUSTOMER SERVICE QUALITY

5.1.1.- There must be guidelines for control in order to ensure that services are appropriately delivered (cleaning, customer service, facility and equipment maintenance)

5.1.2.- There shall be a system to assess client satisfaction that also includes questions on his/her perception of sustainability management by the establishment.

5.1.3.- The establishment shall keep an updated system to receive, document and answer suggestions and complaints from clients and stakeholders.

5.1.4.- The establishment shall approve a set of good practices or ethical code regarding its performance.

5.1.5.- The establishment shall approve a manual on basic co-habitation rules, which shall be permanently accessible and transmitted.

5.2. CLIENT SAFETY

5.2.1.- The establishment must ensure the adoption of the necessary measures for ensuring the client’s safety in terms of fire prevention and escapes routes according to the law. In case there is no legislation, it shall be proven that measures are being implemented based on commonly accepted benchmarks.

5.2.2.- The establishment must ensure all necessary safety requirements in swimming pools, if any, in terms of security of the facility and water quality.

5.3. INFORMATION AND AWARENESS-RISING SERVICES FOR THE DESTINATION

5.3.1.- The establishment shall have an information service for visitors that provides them with the basic elements needed for the promotion of a respectful behaviour towards the destination: environmental and cultural issues, as well as behavioural guidelines giving recommendations about their preservation and sustainable use. Clients shall be aware of its availability. This information may be based on fact sheets, leaflets, information in telematic format or any other equivalent material. It shall be written in languages pertinent to visitors. Information on the following aspects shall be provided:

  • Own or third-party excursions, tours, activities and upcoming events of cultural, artistic or traditional nature.
  • Tourist resources open to visits (natural sites, museums, historic and cultural heritage, information centres, local festivities, etc.)
  • Landscapes, fauna and flora, ecological aspects, including preservation criteria and best practices for visitors.
  • Traditions, local crafts and gastronomy.
  • Information on the area's customs (language, dialects, traditions, traditional comity, schedules, tips, etc.)