Energy & Environment

Officer Eco-Friendly: Wisconsin Will Certify Green Tourist Sites

With its 15,000 lakes, 25,000 miles of waterways and many geological wonders, Wisconsin is working to promote eco-friendly tourism by creating "Travel Green Wisconsin," a business certification program.
by | July 2007
 

With its 15,000 lakes, 25,000 miles of waterways and many geological wonders, Wisconsin is working to promote eco-friendly tourism by creating "Travel Green Wisconsin," a business certification program.

The state will certify environmentally sound tourism outlets--hotels, shops, restaurants and other attractions. The idea is to capitalize on the growing number of travelers who seek to vacation amidst facilities that are sensitive to environmentally sustainable practices. The Department of Tourism wants to "make sure it markets itself as the domestic sustainable destination in the United States," says Will Christianson, the program's outreach coordinator.

To be certified, businesses submit an application that describes the work they are doing to improve or maintain high quality in such areas as waste reduction, energy efficiency and water conservation. The department hopes to find grant programs to help the businesses defray the higher costs of being environmentally friendly.

Business will be asked to pay an annual fee to gain certification, but there are no stipulations or funding for periodic check-ups to make sure that businesses maintain their environmental commitments. The tourism department doesn't see that as a problem. Communities that are trying to make a name for themselves through sustainability are likely to police local businesses to assure that the community "product" reflects the community's reputation, Christianson says. In addition, when travelers seeking out eco-friendly businesses find they are dealing with something different from what was promised, they alert the state.

"Travel Green Wisconsin," which has certified 21 businesses so far, is being piloted in four Wisconsin regions, with a goal of going statewide by 2007.

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