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Green Key: a Green award for the tourism industry

Green Key National Operators from 31 countries from Europe, Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and from Japan have met in Rethymno, Crete on October 20 & 21, in order to evaluate and further develop the programme. The meeting was hosted and organised by the Municipality of Rethymno and the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature – Greece’s National Operator.

The Green Key programme was created in 2002 by the Foundation for Environmental Education (F.E.E.), an international non-governmental organisation aimed at promoting environmental education across the globe. Eco-labels are awarded each year to tourist businesses which adopt particular environmental and eco-friendly practices such as raising the awareness of staff and clients about environmental issues and using ‘greener’ methods of operation so as to make more efficient use of energy resources, etc. Green Key is supported by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and the United Nations Environmental Programme, and it has so far developed criteria for hotels, hostels, guest houses, camping sites and conference centres. 

The Green Key international Administration Office is at present re-assessing existing criteria for the above categories, giving priority to standards that will apply in the near future for other tourism enterprises as well, such as recreation centres, zoos and so on. As a matter of fact, one of the main issues discussed at Rethymno was the revision of criteria for the Green Key awards. Other issues included furthering environmental education and raising awareness based on the programme’s guidelines, with examples of exceptional ecological performances and the best methods used by tourist businesses in many countries.

The Green Key Programme representatives have already awarded the eco-label to 2,200 tourist units in 45 countries throughout the world, whereas in 2014 this important distinction was presented to 158 Greek tourist businesses as follows:
- 71 in Crete
- 16 in Halkidiki
- 10 in Attica
- 7 in Evia
- 6 in Rhodes and Zante
- 5 in Corfu and Preveza
- 3 in Thessaloniki, Ileia and Corinthia
- 2 in Skiathos, Mykonos, Ioannina, Kefalonia and Sifnos
- 1 in Kavala, Larisa, Skopelos, Argolida, Lefkada, Santorini, Andros, Serres, Messinia, Drama, Tinos, Karpenisi and Syros.

Those interested in participating in the programme can contact either the F.E.E. or the H.S.P.N. (Available only in Greek)

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