In the food industry, food and beverages have long been certified and their quality standardised. When shopping, we’ve already become accustomed to the various labels and certifications, which also leads to certain shoppers basing their purchases on these labels, among other things. Because ecological production, economic action and social responsibility are important to them.
Finding your bearings among all the labels thanks to Swisstainable
«ibex fairstay, TourCert, Travelife, myclimate, Blue Swallow» – All labels from the tourism industry that we encounter again and again and have already seen on many websites. But, just as with food industry labels, it’s difficult to keep a good overview of the large selection of certifications. Moreover, observers often don’t know which aspect of sustainability the certification is based on.
With Swisstainable, Switzerland Tourism has developed a new sustainability strategy together with the tourism industry. It supports various tourism stakeholders in making sustainability, which has already been practised for a long time, more visible to their guests. Another advantage of the programme is that communication on sustainability is coordinated throughout Switzerland and also gains international appeal.
Three dimensions of sustainability for one goal
Three dimensions provide the basis for the sustainable commitment of the Swisstainable programme: Society, the economy and the environment. The programme is suitable for newcomers to the topic of sustainability as well as for tourism stakeholders who are already actively involved. The aim of Swisstainable is to make the efforts of tourism businesses towards sustainability visible and to simplify the process for guests and increase transparency when booking sustainable tourism offers. With this, the Swiss tourism industry wants to start an effective movement with the vision of Switzerland becoming the most sustainable destination in the world.
Only benefits for the guests
The Swisstainable programme does not aim to create a new certification, but to offer guests guidance on the subject of sustainability. In addition, it aspires to support the tourism industry and emphasise visibility for sustainable experiences and offers. This means that businesses that are committed to sustainability but have not yet received certification can also demonstrate their efforts to guests thanks to Swisstainable.
Tourism businesses that are just starting to address the issue of sustainability also receive support from the competence centre. This joint commitment is intended as an obligation as well as a motivation. Swiss tourism is becoming more sustainable and this should also be appreciated more. Swisstainable reduces the various efforts and commitments to a common denominator, making it easy for guests to understand and find their bearings.
The three levels of the Swisstainable programme
The Swisstainable programme uses three levels to show how committed a tourism provider is to sustainability.
Level I – committed
• No certifications (yet)
• No other sustainability certificates (yet)
• BUT act sustainably and continue to develop it
Level II – engaged
• Commitment to sustainable corporate governance
• Ongoing development
• ONE certification or other proof in at least one area of sustainability
Level III – leading
• certifications that cover all dimensions of sustainability and are regularly externally audited
• Comprehensive, recognised sustainability certification
Youth Hostels receive Swisstainable Signet
The Swiss Youth Hostels were one of the first to receive the Swisstainable Signet from Switzerland Tourism. Of these, 44 were awarded the level leading and four the level engaged. Sustainability and responsible business have been part of the Swiss Youth Hostels DNA since 1994 and are firmly anchored in our philosophy. In our mission statement, which is lived every day at around 50 locations, we create the basis for balanced economic, social and ecological business.
With our implemented structural renovations as well as the planned further projects in addition to the consideration of environmental aspects, we can also ensure the quality of our offer, economic sustainability as well as socially responsible youth and family tourism.
Swiss Youth Hostels as pioneers of sustainability
Sustainability is now considered a competitive advantage and at the same time offers real added value for guests. For example, the correlation between employee and customer satisfaction is undisputed. Because not only ecological sustainability with structural measures, but also social sustainability with good working conditions and economic sustainability with long-term financing plans are essential for a well-managed sustainable company. Something that the Swiss Youth Hostels recognised early on. After all, in addition to all the labels and certificates, it is the actions of each individual – people and companies – that count.
The Swiss Youth Hostels are consciously fulfilling their role as role models. René Dobler, CEO of the Swiss Foundation for Social Tourism, was actively involved in the development process of Swisstainable and knows the advantages for providers and guests first hand: «I would recommend every tourism business to participate in the programme. Level I is deliberately kept low for newcomers. Of course, it still takes a lot of commitment, but this is where the competence centre offers free assistance. And those who are already committed and live sustainability in their business will benefit from joint communication, nationwide marketing and the motivation and support of the common goal with minimal effort.»
Switzerland Tourism and the Swisstainable programme aim to make sustainable commitment more present and visible to guests. Set out for a new way of travelling and use the Swisstainable label as a guide for your future bookings.
Text: Barbara Materna
The topic of social sustainability is playing an increasingly important role, and the OK:GO Initiative is committed to this. Learn more about the accessibility thanks to the OK:GO initiative at the Swiss Youth Hostels.