RESPONSIBLE TOURISM SYSTEM INTERNATIONAL STANDARD FOR HOTELS
INTRODUCTION: RESPONSIBLE TOURISM SYSTEM APPLIED TO ACCOMMODATION
- INSTRUMENTS IN A RESPONSIBLE TOURISM POLICY
- RESPONSIBLE TOURISM POLICY
- ACTION PLAN
- STAFF MOTIVATION AND TRAINING PLAN
- RESPONSIBLE MARKETING
- LEGAL AND REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS
- CORRECTIVE ACTIONS
- CONSERVATION AND IMPROVEMENT OF CULTURAL HERITAGE 7
- INTEGRATION IN THE CULTURAL REALITY OF THE DESTINATION
- PARTICIPATION IN THE CONSERVATION OF CULTURAL RESOURCES
- PROMOTION OF VISITORS' KNOWLEDGE
- ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE DESTINATION
- PROMOTION OF THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
- RESPONSIBLE ATTITUDE WITH EMPLOYEES
- ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION
- LANDSCAPE PROTECTION
- BIODIVERSITY PROTECTION
- SOIL PROTECTION
- ENERGY MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL
- WATER MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL
- WASTE MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL
- MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL OF THE CONSUMPTION OF PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
- ATMOSPHERIC EMISSION MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL 13
- NOISE MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL
- LIGHT POLLUTION MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL
- CLIENT SATISFACTION AND INVOLVEMENT IN THE RESPONSIBLE TOURISM SYSTEM
- QUALITY CLIENT SERVICE
- CLIENT SAFETY
- CLIENT'S RESPONSIBLE BEHAVIOUR ON SITE
- SERVICES PROVIDING INFORMATION AND AWARENESS ABOUT THE DESTINATION
- UNIVERSAL ACCESS
1. INSTRUMENTS IN A RESPONSIBLE TOURISM POLICY
In order to fulfil the principles of sustainability, we need to have some basic management tools to back up the Responsible Tourism System. These tools seek to obtain a commitment on the part of the accommodation centre or establishment and they also provide the channels for disseminating and complying with responsible tourism.
1.1 RESPONSIBLE TOURISM POLICY
- The establishment shall have a Responsible Tourism Policy that is documented and translated into the commonest languages of its clients. The policy shall be formally approved by the establishment's highest management level, and it shall be communicated in an on-going manner to staff and external interested parties. This policy shall contain the commitments that the establishment has made with regard to sustainable tourism, and specifically:
- Adoption of the principles of the World Charter for Sustainable Tourism.
- Commitment to prevent negative impacts of facilities and activities, and to maximise positive impacts.
- Commitment to on-going improvement in all areas of sustainability: socio-cultural, economic and environmental.
- Commitment to internal and external client satisfaction.
1.2 ACTION PLAN
- The Management of the establishment shall prepare, document and implement an Action Plan (AP) based on its Responsible Tourism Policy, to set forth the specific priorities and objectives that should be met in order to fulfil the commitments it has undertaken. 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.
1.3 STAFF MOTIVATION AND TRAINING PLAN
1.3.1. The establishment's Management shall approve a staff awareness, information and training plan, to guarantee their involvement in the responsible tourism plan. It shall include actions on the various aspects of sustainability, quality and safety.
1.3.2. There shall be a welcome handbook to provide new employees with basic information about the Responsible Tourism System, so that they will be involved from the start.
1.4 RESPONSIBLE MARKETING
- All the establishment's promotional messages shall contain accurate, clear and precise information on environmental quality and other sustainability specifications about the establishment and the destination. Also, information provided through different channels shall be transparent and comprehensive, without creating expectations that cannot be met, or ambiguously describing different aspects of commitment and of what the establishment offers.
1.5 LEGAL AND REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS
1.5.1. The establishment shall be able to show that property has been acquired in a legal manner, complying where applicable with local, communal, and indigenous rights.
1.5.2. The establishment shall guarantee on-going knowledge of legal and regulatory requirements that are applicable to sustainability in order to ensure compliance. Therefore, an updated record shall be kept of all such requirements, in a clear and understandable form.
1.6 CORRECTIVE ACTIONS
- There shall be an effective and consistent procedure to implement actions when necessary to correct deviations from the commitments made with regard to the principles of sustainability, objectives that have been set and the requirements of this standard.
2. CONSERVATION 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 conserved for the benefit of present and future generations. The establishment's role in this conservation is essential, not only through direct action but also through its influence on visitors.
2.1 INTEGRATION IN THE CULTURAL REALITY OF THE DESTINATION
2.1.1. The establishment shall respect the local zoning, and the protected and heritage area laws and regulations.
2.1.2. The establishment shall respect the local architectural styles in the design and building of its facilities.
2.1.2. As far as possible, the establishment shall incorporate features in its interior decoration that reflect the local culture and craftwork.
2.2 PARTICIPATION IN THE CONSERVATION OF CULTURAL RESOURCES
2.2.1. Tangible and intangible local cultural resources shall be promoted and protected, working with local authorities and/or associations for their conservation and endurance.
2.2.2. Items of archaeological or historical value shall not be sold; they shall only be exhibited with due protection and in compliance with applicable legal requirements.
2.2.3. Respect and protection of the intellectual property of local communities shall be guaranteed.
2.2.4. Local residents shall not be prevented access to heritage, historical or archaeological assets that are available.
2.3 PROMOTION OF VISITORS' KNOWLEDGE
2.3.1. Establishments that offer a restaurant or buffet service with food prepared on site shall include local cuisine in their offer. If the establishment has a restaurant with waiter service, the waiters shall hold a knowledge of the local cuisine and recommend local wines and dishes that are offered on the menu.
2.3.2. If the establishment has entertainment programmes, activities related to local cultural resources shall be offered.
2.3.3. If the establishment has a souvenir shop, boutiques, etc., it shall guarantee that local products are available for sale.
2.3.4. The establishment shall offer comprehensive, up-to-date information on the main cultural resources available in the area, supplying details on opening times, etc.
3. ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE DESTINATION
Tourism offers the possibility of improving the economic lifestyle of the local inhabitants, because income generally increases and is better distributed in tourist destinations, provided that sustainability is planned from the very start. To this end, accommodation centres should contribute with their business know-how towards improving the socio-economic development of the destination in question. Furthermore, they should ensure they behave in a responsible manner with their employees, providing decent work conditions.
3.1 PROMOTION OF THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
3.1.1. The establishment shall be respectful and supportive of local communities, through the latter’s institutions, NGOs, neighbourhood associations, local companies, etc., setting up appropriate communication channels. Concretely:
- A code of conduct for activities in indigenous and local communities shall be developed, with the consent of and in collaboration with the community.
- The estabishment shall participate in the local community’s social life, supporting social events that are organised, and offering its facilities for this purpose when possible.
3.1.2. The establishment shall work with local government bodies on sustainability programmes that are implemented, such as the Local Agenda 21 programme, Biosphere Destination certification, etc.
3.1.3. The establishment shall implement a responsible purchase policy, that must include:
- Offering the means for local small entrepreneurs to develop and sell sustainable products based on the area`s nature, history and culture.
- Favouring local suppliers, to contribute to local development.
- Favouring fair trade products.
- Favouring products that come from a sustainable origin.
3.1.4. It shall support training activities at schools and other training centres by arranging students’ visits, facilitating work experience placements, etc.
3.1.5. It shall favour the practice of hiring local inhabitants for jobs, including managerial positions.
3.1.6. It shall support social welfare campaigns, such as donating used items, products for food banks, etc.
3.1.7. The establishment shall not jeopardise the normal running of local services (health, cleaning and other services).
3.2 RESPONSIBLE ATTITUDE WITH EMPLOYEES
3.2.1. The establishment shall guarantee that its employees’ salaries are sufficient to maintain a decent quality of life.
3.2.2. The establishment shall hire and promote its employees without discriminating by sex or race.
3.2.3. On-going training shall be provided to staff related to the functions undertaken in their jobs.
3.2.4. Measures shall be applied to ensure that employees can enjoy a healthy family-work balance.
3.2.5. Under no circumstances shall child labour be permitted directly or indirectly.
3.2.6. Occupational risk prevention shall be guaranteed, applying applicable legislation. In lack thereof, the establishment shall guarantee the safety of its employees based on the international regulations set forth by the ILO.
3.2.7. The establishment shall encourage the hiring of disabled people.
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 - landscape geographical relief, climate, sea, rivers and lakes, physical environment, flora and fauna - are a basic part of tourist destinations. 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 LANDSCAPE PROTECTION
4.1.1. It shall be verified that neither the establishment nor its outdoor facilities have an impact on the landscape, e.g., equipment used for air conditioning, telecommunication (aerials), fuel storage, energy generation, etc.
4.1.2. There shall be no impact on the landscape from outdoor signs and signposting on the establishment’s facade, waste containers, outdoor furnishings and fittings, etc.
4.1.3. Gardens shall feature flora that are native to the area, thus preventing serious alterations to the natural landscape.
4.2 BIODIVERSITY PROTECTION
4.2.1. Through all phases, from design to exploitation, the establishment shall minimise and compensate for repercussions on biodiversity, by appropriately managing its environmental impact.
4.2.2. No wild species shall be domesticated unless there is authorisation to do so, and appropriate conditions for their care can be guaranteed.
4.2.3. In any event, potentially invasive species shall not be used, because of the risk implied, and the use of local species in gardens and natural spaces shall be maximised.
4.3 SOIL PROTECTION
4.3.1. The establishment shall protect the quality of the soil, correctly covering land and implementing protective measures in areas where there is a risk of pollution (anti-spill containers, emergency absorption materials, etc.).
4.3.2. Fuel storage equipment shall be guaranteed to be correctly maintained, checking for leaks by means of tests as appropriate. In any event, legally-validated containers shall be used to store fuel, where applicable.
4.3.3. Erosion and run-off shall be minimized through appropriate means, mainly soil care and ground cover.
4.4 ENERGY MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL
4.4.1. Construction, design and refurbishment work shall be based on the principles of sustainability, incorporating the best available and viable technologies in the use of alternative energies, energy efficiency and energy saving.
4.4.2. The establishment shall maintain an up-to-date system in operation to record, control, measure and interpret data related to energy consumption and sources of energy, since this is a basic component in an energy management improvement system.
4.4.3. General energy-saving measures shall be implemented, such as switching off lights and machines when not in use, rational use of air conditioning and heating, switching off unused equipment, etc. There shall be written guidelines to this effect.
4.4.4. Equipment that is purchased shall be of maximum energy efficiency, including lighting, boilers, white goods, refrigerators, etc.
4.4.5. Energy loss in equipment shall be minimised by means of appropriate insulation (pipes, storage heaters, sealed refrigerators, etc.), cleaning plans (heat exchangers, evaporators, etc.), separation between hot and cold zones and appropriate maintenance.
4.4.6. Mechanisms shall be implemented to help clients save energy in their accommodation, such as systems that switch off the energy supply when leaving the room, or switching off air conditioning when a door or window is opened.
4.4.7. The establishment shall not make excessive demands on local energy capacity through its activities.
4.5 WATER MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL
4.5.1. Construction, design and refurbishment work shall be based on the principles of sustainability, incorporating the best available and viable technologies for obtaining water in order to achieve water efficiency and saving.
4.5.2. The establishment shall maintain an up-to-date system in operation to record, control, measure and interpret data related to water consumption, since this is a basic component in a water management improvement system.
4.5.3. General water saving measures shall be implemented, such as not leaving taps running, repairing leaks, etc. There shall be written guidelines to this effect.
4.5.4. The establishment shall guarantee maximum water saving, by minimising the amount of water used in cisterns, using low consumption taps and showers (or installing aerators), and installing push taps or sensors in communal areas.
4.5.5. The establishment shall reuse waste water for irrigation systems whenever possible, while maintaining appropriate health conditions. If it is not possible to reuse waste water for irrigation purposes, the establishment shall use low water-consumption devices and systems, such as drip irrigation, porous pipes for ground cover plants, sand and mulch, etc., to water trees, bushes and ground cover in garden zones.
4.5.6. In any event the establishment shall have the corresponding administrative authorisation for all waste water disposal (including swimming pools). If there is no connection to a public sewage system, the establishment shall be provided with waste water treatment measures, and it shall monitor and analyse these processes as necessary in order to guarantee their correct operation. Likewise, there shall be an authorised management system for waste generated from the treatment process (sludge, etc.)
4.5.7. The establishment shall avoid disposing of pollutant substances down the drains (chemical products, oils, etc.). There shall be instructions for the disposal of such substances at critical points and preventive measures in use (anti-spill trays, etc.)
4.5.8. Grease and oil separators shall be used in kitchens to prevent these substances from being disposed of with other waste. These separators shall be duly maintained and cleaned to guarantee correct operation.
4.5.9. The establishment shall not make excessive demands on local water resources through its activities.
4.6 WASTE MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL
4.6.1. General waste reduction and management guidelines shall be defined and implemented, including monitoring and measuring data.
4.6.2. The establishment actively seeks ways to reduce the purchase of disposable and consumable goods. At least the following guidelines shall be adopted:
- Minimizing the use of individually-packed portions of food or drink and encourage bulk products, provided that the hygienical and sanitary requirements are guaranteed.
- Minimizing disposable products such as paper or plastic utensils (cups, plates..).
- Whenever possible, bathroom packs or kits shall be provided in refillable dispensers, or at least in sizes adapted to the average-length stay. As far as possible, products and packaging should be recycled and/or recyclable, and be chosen for their environmental friendliness.
- When a picnic service is provided, packaging and utensils used shall be environmentally-compatible, and correct final waste disposal instructions shall be included for clients.
- Items packed in reusable packaging should always be chosen, considering chemical and cleaning products, catering products, drink containers, etc.
4.6.3. The establishment shall implement and operate a waste separation system on site for delivery to an authorised waste management service.
4.6.4. The final situation of waste on site, prior to collection by the external service, shall meet the following requirements:
- Waste shall be stored separately in a protected area in resistant, safe and properly marked container for each type of waste.
- The containers shall have a specific location that does not disturb clients or neighbours.
- There shall be measures in place to prevent accidental risks (spills, etc.) and to maintain access control.
4.7 MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL OF THE CONSUMPTION OF PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
4.7.1. The establishment shall not purchase any products that are made from threatened or endangered species as defined by international conventions, or protected by local laws applicable in the territory where the establishment is located.
4.7.2. The use of chemical products shall be kept to a minimum, and their environmental compatibility shall be guaranteed to the utmost (detergents, insecticides, pesticides, etc.). Products shall have safety sheets available in order to provide full information on the product, and people in charge of using such products shall be adequately trained to do so.
4.7.3. Maximum use shall be made of recycled paper, implementing good practices such as using paper on both sides, sending emails, etc. Chlorine-bleached paper shall not be used under any circumstances.
4.7.4. The purchase of disposable and consumable goods that have high environmental impact, such as paper, wood, chemical and cleaning products shall be controlled, measured and monitored.
4.7.5. It shall be guaranteed that only certified wood is used, in order to guarantee that its origin is compatible with sustainability principles.
4.7.6. Suppliers/subcontractors who implement good sustainability practices shall be given preference relating to products and processes alike. They shall be informed of this preference.
4.8 ATMOSPHERIC EMISSION MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL
4.8.1. Extinguishers, refrigeration and air conditioning equipment used on site shall employ ozone-friendly propellants and refrigerants.
4.8.2. Equipment, vehicles and boilers that release emissions shall have a maintenance plan to guarantee their good working order and emission control.
4.8.3. Related to energy sources, renewable ones must be selected when it is possible. In any case international best practices about suitable sources of energy must be observed, besides local regulations, in order to avoid dangerous and high pollutants ones (such as fuel with a high sulphure content…)
4.8.4. If fossil fuels are used, less polluting ones shall be given preference: Methane better than propane, propane better than diesel ...
4.8.5. The establishment shall measure, control and monitor greenhouse gas emissions, and carry out improvement actions towards achieving climate neutrality.
4.9 NOISE MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL
4.9.1. The establishment shall ensure that noise emissions from machinery and equipment are minimised through maintenance and adequate insulation.
4.9.2. The establishment shall ensure appropriate noise levels are maintained in all areas by adopting best practices for the benefit of staff and clients, establishing quiet periods, volume limiters on televisions and telephones, etc.
4.10 LIGHT POLLUTION MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL
4.10.1. Excess lighting - in terms of light intensity and time used - shall be avoided in order to minimise light pollution.
4.10.2. Lights shall be used that maximise lighting efficiency and minimise resulting pollution, avoiding devices that shine light upwards or along the skyline.
4.10.3. Lamps that give an optimum lighting spectrum for visual sensitivity shall be used, avoiding “white light” and wide spectrum lighting.
5. CLIENT SATISFACTION AND INVOLVEMENT IN THE RESPONSIBLE TOURISM SYSTEM
Quality tourism has been traditionally focused on all that concerns safety, comfort and service. These are basic aspects in tourism, which is why they are considered as being standard features. However, if quality is to be understood as meeting tourists' expectations, we should also include key aspects such as those discussed earlier: Conservation of natural and cultural resources, the socio-economic development of destinations, etc. We must therefore involve visitors in our efforts to achieve sustainability, so that they value it and contribute to it. This will result in a tourist product that not only fulfils the basic requirements of quality, but will also be further reaching, involving visitors in the day-to-day situation of the destination, as a result of their enhanced knowledge and awareness. Finally, the service must be open to everyone, and so accessibility to facilities shall be maximised.
5.1 QUALITY CLIENT SERVICE
5.1.1. The establishment shall implement methods to avoid overbooking, so that reservations are fully guaranteed.
5.1.2. The establishment shall follow standardised basic client service protocols, from the moment information is first requested: Telephone service, welcome, check-in, check-out, restaurant service, etc.
5.1.3. All employees shall be given guidelines relating to behaviour and appearance.
5.1.4. There shall be operating procedures to guarantee cleanliness and maintenance throughout the establishment, in bedrooms and common areas alike.
5.1.5. There shall be control guidelines to ensure that services are correctly provided.
5.1.6. There shall be a system for measuring client satisfaction, which shall include aspects on client perception of the establishment's sustainability management.
5.1.7. The management shall maintain an up-to-date suggestions and complaints receipt system to record and respond to complaints and suggestions made by clients. The system shall show that all such complaints and suggestions have received a response.
5.1.8. Clients shall be informed that they may send their suggestions to the Institute of Responsible Tourism, and the details for doing so shall be provided.
5.2 CLIENT SAFETY
5.2.1. The establishment shall guarantee that the necessary measures are taken to ensure client safety in terms of fire prevention and emergency exit routes, in accordance with legal requirements. In the absence of such requirements, the establishment must be able to show that sufficient measures are in place based on generally accepted benchmarks.
5.2.2. There shall be emergency plans in place for abnormal situations, aimed at protecting clients.
5.2.3. Food hygiene and safety requirements shall be guaranteed as necessary, in accordance with legal provisions, where applicable. In the absence of such provisions, the establishment must be able to show that these requirements are in place based on generally accepted benchmarks.
5.2.4. The necessary safety requirements shall be guaranteed with regard to the swimming pools, in terms of safety of the facility and water quality.
5.2.5. If certain facilities operate with water and produce aerosols that can lead to focal sites of proliferation and the spread of pathogens harmful to human health, as is the case of legionella, regular maintenance programmes shall be implemented and microbiological and physico-chemical tests shall be performed on water quality to ensure that such facilities do not pose a risk to public health, in accordance with that set forth in applicable legislation, if this exists. These programmes shall include appropriate cleaning and disinfection of the facility at a minimum.
5.2.6. Establishments that have their own drinking water supply must ensure its potability, according to applicable standards.
5.3 CLIENT'S RESPONSIBLE BEHAVIOUR ON SITE
The establishment shall inform clients how to behave responsibly with regard to energy saving, water saving, noise and other disturbing factors, and also waste management, by notices that fulfil the following characteristics:
- Notices shall be located in the bedrooms, at a minimum.
- They shall be written in the commonest languages of its clients, as well as the local language.
- They shall clearly request clients' collaboration, explaining the reasons why such behaviour is requested, and describing recommended behaviour.
5.4 SERVICES PROVIDING INFORMATION AND AWARENESS ABOUT THE DESTINATION
5.4.1. The establishment shall provide an information service for clients, to communicate the basic elements necessary to foster an attitude of respect for the destination, including environmental and cultural aspects and also guidelines on behaviour to provide guidance on conservation and sustainable use. This service shall be centralised and maintained by someone appointed to do so (e.g. at Reception/Lobby). Clients shall be informed of its existence. It can be in the form of informative sheets, brochures, details on telematic support or equivalent media. Information shall be written in the clients' commonest languages. Information shall be provided on:
- Cultural, artistic and traditional events, trips, routes, activities and happenings organised by the establishment or externally.
- Tourism resources open to the public (natural sites, museums, historical and artistic heritage, interpretation centres, local festivals, etc.)
- Landscapes, flora and fauna, ecological aspects, including conservation criteria and best practices that visitors should apply.
- Customs, local arts and crafts and cuisine.
- Information on local customs (language, dialects, customs, greetings, times kept, tips, etc.)
5.4.2. The information shall follow the criteria below:
- It shall encourage visits to underused areas that are not particularly subject to protection.
- It should not include details on tourism activities offered that have an undesirable environmental impact or are not sensitive to local culture, including activities and offers that are directly or indirectly contrary to international agreements and entities, such as sex tourism.
- Sports and leisure activities that threaten the biodiversity of the environment shall not be advertised.
- Information shall promote visitors' awareness of the problems caused by illicit trafficking of species, digging up plants and buying souvenirs made from endangered species.
5.4.3. The establishment shall inform its clients about the activities that it has undertaken to enhance the destination in terms of environmental, social and economic aspects, involving and engaging the customer as much as possible.
5.4.4. The criterion of low impact shall be given priority in information provided on transport services: The establishment shall inform its clients about bicycle hire and pedestrian routes and their advantages over the use of aggressive transport. Information shall also be provided on available public transport.
5.4.5. The establishment shall also provide information on routes that are most respectful of natural areas with public access and the perimeters around historic centres and sites that provide protection against forms of transport that have a negative impact.
5.5 UNIVERSAL ACCESS
The establishment shall guarantee basic accessibility conditions, making sure that there is no discrimination of disabled people in access to the facilities: Accessible routes to all areas, adapted bedrooms, adapted furniture, etc.