Some of Britain's most environmentally friendly tourist businesses have been honoured with a Goldstar in recognition of reaching the top of their class.
The coveted Green Tourism Business Scheme Awards were presented to eight of the country's most sustainability minded businesses working within the tourism industry at a special event in Edinburgh this weekend.
Founded by the internationally renowned Green Tourism Business Scheme the awards honour those businesses and organisations that have done the most to promote sustainability within the industry by implementing cost-saving practices that help the environment, improve customer services and benefit the bottom line.
The winners, which include three from England and five from Scotland, were chosen from over 2,300 green tourism companies assessed for their innovation, cost savings and green ambassadorship during 2011-2012
This year's winners were:
• Best Activity Centre – Glenmore Lodge, Aviemore, Inverness-shire
• Best B&B and Guest House – The Old Rectory, Boscastle, Cornwall.
• Best Holiday Park and Camping Site – Argyll Cabins, Arrochar, Argyll & Bute
• Best Conference Centre – Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre, Glasgow.
• Best Hostel and Bunkhouse – Deepdale Backpackers Hostel, Norfolk.
• Best Hotel – Lancaster London, London.
• Best Self-Catering Accommodation – Bluebell Croft, Strontian, Argyll.
• Best Visitor Attraction – Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick.
Two other special awards were presented to the Shepreth Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire, which won the People's Choice Award - as voted for by members of the public, and the Best Western Kings Manor Hotel in Edinburgh which received recognition for being the first business in the UK to join the GTBS scheme 15 years ago.
“The Goldstar Awards are a recognition of the best of the best,” said Andrea Nicholas, Director of the Green Tourism Business Scheme.
“The Awards are intended to honour the highest GTBS achievers of the last 12 months in terms of innovation, ambassadorship and cost savings. A total of 52 green tourism businesses were shortlisted for the final this year, out of more than 2,300 possible contenders.
“Everyone is an exemplar in the promotion and practice of sustainability. Unfortunately, there can only be a handful of overall winners but I have been hugely impressed by the efforts made by all the finalists. They have demonstrated how it is possible to be environmentally concious and successful and are prime examples of how going green makes good business sense.”
This year's ceremony, at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel in Edinburgh, was sponsored by Triodos, the sustainable bank and follows a week of activities throughout the UK to celebrate Green Tourism Week.
Triodos works in partnership with the GTBS, using their certification as a benchmark to ensure its customers in the tourism industry meet high standards of sustainability.
“GTBS is the place to go for credible, independent guidance on best practice in sustainable tourism,” says David Cousland, Triodos Bank’s Scotland Corporate Affairs Manager. “So you can be sure that the businesses shortlisted for the Goldstar Awards are leading lights in an approach to tourism that’s better for local economies and the environment.”
The Green Tourism Business Scheme is the first to be independently validated by the International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT) on behalf of VisitEngland, VisitWales and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, and endorsed by VisitScotland and Failte Ireland.
The scheme, which started in Scotland 15 years ago, is the biggest of its kind in the world with an influence that reaches from North America to New Zealand.
Started by directors Jon Proctor and Andrea Nicholas with VisitScotland it provides consumers with an independent guide to hotels, bed & breakfasts, tourist attractions and visitor centres which are actively trying to help the environment.