Anyone looking for environmentally conscious accommodation in Namibia can rely on the Eco Awards Namibia sustainability seal. This was confirmed by programme coordinator Hazel Milne in an interview with BüllsPort. Booking.com had previously stopped its questionable sustainability programme.

The reason was accusations of greenwashing. Greenwashing occurs when a company exaggerates or misrepresents its commitment to sustainability. The aim is to win over environmentally conscious customers.

The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) described the “Travel Sustainable Programme” of the global booking portal as misleading. It was not clear to consumers what exactly the sustainability label entailed, said ACM.

Accommodations received several ‘leaves’ on their pages on Booking.com, depending on the extent of their sustainable orientation. The booking portal is now stopping its label with immediate effect and has announced that it will revise the programme (see report by Dutch TravMagazine).

The incident not only harms Booking.com. But also the many other sustainability initiatives in the travel industry. After all, they only work in the long term if they are perceived as credible by customers.

Eco Awards Namibia checks the sustainability of accommodations

BüllsPort spoke to Hazel Milne, programme coordinator of Eco Awards Namibia, about this. For its environmentally conscious farming and hospitality operations BüllsPort has received five out of five possible Desert Flowers from Eco Awards Namibia. Can guests rely on this judgement?

Desert flowers sustainable hospitality operation BüllsPort Lodge & Farm Website Eco Awards Namibia

5 out of 5 possible desert flowers for sustainable hospitality: Page about BüllsPort Lodge & Farm on the website of Eco Awards Namibia. Photo: Screenshot

They can, Milne assured BüllsPort. Why? Because Eco Awards Namibia has the sustainability of the establishments checked on site. A trained auditor inspects the accommodation according to very specific criteria that cover eight areas of sustainability.

This inspection is then followed by an external audit by various partners of Eco Awards Namibia. To name just five: University of Namibia (UNAM), Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), International University of Management (IUM), Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) and Tour and Safari Association of Namibia (TASA).

The criteria are based on the standards of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). A few years ago, Eco Awards Namibia revised these criteria with partners such as Fair Trade Tourism in South Africa, Botswana Tourism and Sustainable Tourism Tanzania. The aim is to create a mutually recognised standard for sustainable tourism in Africa.

The list of assessment criteria also serves as an inspiration for further possible measures that can be taken by accommodation establishments. The criteria can be viewed by everyone on the Eco Awards Namibia website. This allows travellers to get a clear picture of what it means when a business has received three desert flowers, for example. Or five, like BüllsPort.

Rock garden Solar water heater sustainable guest operation BüllsPort Lodge & Farm Namibia

Rock garden instead of lawn, hot water with solar energy instead of mains electricity: two of the many measures that characterise the sustainable guest operations of BüllsPort Lodge & Farm. Photo: Sven-Eric Stender

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