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Summary of the Conference

More than 110 participants from 12 different countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom,) were gathered in Estoril on the 16-17 February during the 1st International Conference on Tourism and Environmental Certification in Portugal. The international conference was self-financed and organised by Nordeconsult Lda. and took place in the Estoril Conference Center.


The main objective of the conference was to describe and present different environmental management systems (EMAS and ISO 14001) and eco-labels available for the tourism industry, including a number of case studies different tourist enterprises, in order to stimulate the implementation of environmental management systems in the sector as a way to increase competitiveness and sustainability.


The conference started just after 10:00 on February 16 with the welcome speech of Dr. Stefan Rydin (Managing Director of Nordeconsult Lda.) followed by Dr M Dias (Portuguese Tourist Confederation), Dr. Carlos Carreiras, (Vice-Mayor of Cascais) and Dr. C. Siza-Viera from DG Turismo (representing the state Secretary of Tourism), Professor Humberto Rosa (State Secretary of Environment) closed the Opening Session. The State Secretary of Environment pointed out the importance of sustainable tourism for Portugal and acknowledged the fact that a high-level international conference on the subject was held in Portugal. The State Secretary of Environment, as well as Ms. Siza Viera from DG Turismo referred to a new type of tourist (“new tourist”) that selects his holidays destination based on environmental and social criteria. Prof. Humberto Rosa also mentioned the importance of attracting this type of “new tourist” to Portugal.


The technical/scientific sessions started immediately after the Opening Session and consisted of 23 presentations, divided into 7 sessions during 2 days, with a well-balanced mixture of highly well-reputed International and Portuguese speakers.


The first technical presentation was made by Dr Manuel Dias from the Confederation of the Portuguese Tourist, who gave an overview of the importance of environmental certification for the Portuguese tourist sector as a competitive and distinction factor. The presentation was followed by a presentation made by Dr. Marguerite Sequaris (European Hotel and Restaurant Association – HOTREC) giving the views of the European Industry. The Portuguese Industry seemed to acknowledge the importance and benefits of environmental certification while the European Association expressed some concerns on behalf of the small entrepreneurs in the sector. The third speaker in the session was Dr Eugenio Yunis from the World Tourist Organisation, who gave extensive information about future trends and aspects regarding sustainable tourism, including a comprehensive description of sustainable tourism.


The second technical session was opened by Dr Stefan Rydin (Nordeconsult) who gave an overview of the difference and similarities of different types of labels and management systems in the market. The presentation from Dr. Stefan Rydin was an introduction to the presentations of the following session with detailed information on each certificate specific for the tourism industry.


The presentation of Dr. Stefan Rydin was followed by two very interesting presentations from tour operators illustrating the environmental responsibility of the tourist businesses. The first presentation was made by Chris Thompson from the Federation of Tour Operators in United Kingdom, which represents 17 million holidaymakers (78 % of package holidaymakers). Dr Thompson introduced the Supplier Sustainable Code (SSC) which recently has been launched. The SSC is a code of environmental and social practise to assess suppliers (e.g. hotel) performance against a uniform set of principles and best practises. The system consists of a point system and also of different levels and will be computer-based.


The second presentation was made by Dr Andreas Koch from TUI Deutschland. TUI is the largest tour operator in the world and environmental quality is an integral part of TUI. TUI monitors, evaluates and supports the improvements of the environmental quality together with the hotel partners. TUI has an environmental rating system based on environmental performance and environmental labelling and certification are actively promoted within the evaluation system. Dr Koch also informed the audience how TUI actively supports top environmental performers by e.g. highlighting environmental champions in TUI brochures.


Several different certificates were then presented in detail during the conference. These presentations were made by Dr João Bolina, Instituto Ambiente (EMAS), Dr Delfina Serpa Pinto DG Empresa (EU Eco-Label), Eng. Luís Barrinha, SGS ICS (ISO 14001). In addition, some European initiatives were presented by Mr. Rambelli (Legiambiente, Italy), Ms Daniela Sanna (Alpheeis, France) and Mr. Rainer Stifter (Energon, Austria).


The view of an NGO was presented Mr. Helder Careto from GEOTA, focusing on the complexity of sustainable tourism. Afterwards, several case studies were presented. The case studies were selected to illustrate a wide number of different areas in the tourist activities (hotels, fun parks, camping sites, golf, etc.), representing both different size enterprises and European countries.


The first case study was from Germany and presented the camping sector. Ms. Bianca Hellriegel from ECOCAMPING introduced the Ecocamping scheme for camping site, an interesting sector specific approach. The introduction was followed by the experiences of an entrepeneur. Mr Bauer from Camping Integrations in Germany showed that also small companies can implement environmental management systems. Mr Bauer represents a company with only 15 employees (part of them handicapped and long-term unemployed) and 3 years experience. The figures presented for water and energy showed significant savings. Furthermore, Mr Bauer experienced that around 59% of the customers valued the environmental certificate and the social responsibility.


The second case study was the work developed by Infraquinta S. A., presented by Eng. Ana Brito. The company is ownership between the Municipality of Loulé and the Quinta do Lago. Infraquinta S.A. was created in order to ensure a high environmental performance of the Quinta do Lago urban and tourist area.


Dr. Miguel Oliveira from Oceanário de Lisboa made an interesting presentation on their hard work and concerns regarding environmental and social responsibilities, stressing that every individual can make a difference.


The Copenhagen Zoo, represented by Ms. Bydam and Mr. Andersen made an impressive and transparent presentation on all the strategic key points, costs and savings regarding implementation of environmental management.


Another very interesting presentation was made by Mr. Bachmeier on the how to implement a remarkable environmental management system in a hotel in harmony with quality. Detailed information about the achieved savings was presented.


The case study from Planbelas was presented by Dr. Jordan on golf environmental management and specially focused on water saving strategies.


Ms. Célia Ferreira from Sonae Turismo presented the Troiaresort case study addressing the development of a new type of resort in Portugal including information about the sometimes time-consuming phase to obtain permits.


Funding possibilities of the PRIME-programme in Portugal for environmental projects were presented by Dr. Júlio Soares do Instituto Português da Qualidade.


The last presentation was carried out by Mr. Francesco Ianniello of the European Commission, DG Enterprise – Tourism, highlighting some initiatives of the EC and stressing the importance of the conference on high political European level. As introduction to the conclusions, Mr. Ianniello mentioned the importance of securing an easy language understandable by all stakeholders as one key aspect to stimulate their active participation.