File Austrian Ministry for Environment: Austrian Ecolabel

Contributor Herbert Hamele
Country Austria,
Release date 12/11/2010
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Focus on the VESTAS number 1: Austrian EcoLabel

Regina Preslmair

The Austrian EcoLabel is one of the first European certification agencies to join with the VESTAS and nominate its chosen members for a 2011 VESTA award

In this first focus on the VESTAS - Vision European Sustainable Tourism Awards - the Austrian Ecolabel introduces itself and its aims. The first VESTA winners will be announced at ITB Berlin in 2011.

Regina Preslmair of the Austrian Ecolabel talks to Valere Tjolle of Vision on Sustainable Tourism

Valere Tjolle: Could you give me the full name of your certification and its history, when did Das Österreichische Umweltzeichen  - The Austrian Ecolabel start?

Regina Preslmair: It started in 1990 with the first criteria documents for products. In 1996 we developed the worldwide first national ecolabel for tourism enterprises  (accommodation, restaurants and camp sites). In the tourism sector we developed futher criteria documents for Travel Offers in 2008 and for Green Meetings in 2010. Another sector that we are covering is education. Here we have our Ecolabel for Schools and Teacher Training Colleges since 2002 and our Ecolabel for Extracurricular Educational institutions.

Valere: Who are the guiding team and what do they do?

Regina: The team of the Austrian Ecolabel consists of members of three institutions: the Ministry of Environment, the  Austrian Consumer Association (‘Verein für Konsumenteninformation’ - our national  independent consumer´s organisation) and last not least our marketing  experts from ‘nosugar’. The Federal Ministry of Environment is the official holder of the Austrian ecolabel and gives the certificates to the audited businesses. Responsibility for the administration and preparation of award criteria lies in the first place with the Federal Ministry of Environment and the Austrian Consumer Association (VKI).  Beside the technical work of developing criteria and supporting documents and tools for interested businesses, the Austrian Consumer Association is also responsible for the administration of the ecolabel and the organisation of the audits. All marketing business for the Austrian Ecolabel lies in the hand of the marketing firm ‘no.sugar’.

Valere: What organisations are certified?  

Regina: In the tourism sector we are certifying tourism enterprises like hotels and campsites but also restaurants and caterers. Moreover we are certifying individual travel offers from registered tour operators and "green meetings" from PCO´s (Professional Congress Organizers), Convention bureaus etc.  

Valere: Where are they?

Regina: They are spread all over Austria but we have some concentration in the Vienna area (appr. 17% of guest beds in Vienna are in Ecolabel-hotels).

Valere: and what are they certified for?  

Regina: For the tourism there are comprehensive criteria documents , which aim to judge the company / the travel offer / the meeting as a whole. The measure and management criteria are covering environmental as well as some social issues. The Austrian Ecolabel differentiates between mandatory criteria and optional criteria. To be certified, the applicant must fulfil all the mandatory criteria and a certain number of points of the optional criteria (according to the size of the business and the services offered).

The following areas are covered for tourism enterprises:

  • environmental management
  • energy
  • water
  • waste
  • air, noise
  • office and reception area
  • cleaning, chemicals and hygiene area
  • building design, interiour fittings and equipment
  • food and kitchen area
  • traffic  
  • outside area   

Travel offers are judged according to the following areas:   

  • Journey to and from the destination (incl. limit for CO2 emissions (equivalents) per day of stay and person)
  • Accommodation
  • Activities / mobility on the spot  
  • Destination / Information
  • Green Meetings have to fulfill criteria in following areas:
  • Mobility and CO2 offsetting
  • Accommodation
  • Event location
  • Procurement, material and waste management
  • Exhibitors/Exhibition stand builders
  • Catering
  • Communication and social aspects

Valere: In your view, what has your and other certification programmes achieved so far and what have they failed to achieve?

Regina: We have achieved a relatively high brand recognition of between 40 and 50 % which makes us happy. But in the tourism sector, especially among guests, we are still far away from that general level of recognition. The Ecolabel is still mainly seen as a product label but maybe that´s going to change with our new Ecolabels for Travel Offers and especially for Green Meetings, which finds broad acceptance in the sector. It is also worth mentioning, that the Austrian Ecolabel for Tourist enterprises covers businesses of all size and category: from small alpine mountain huts and private (farmhouse) accommodation via eco-hotels to urban 5 star hotels, from traditional Viennese cafes to well known restaurants. And all of these businesses made their contribution to reduce energy and water consumption, waste and chemicals and helped to improve our environment!

Valere: Which best practices have you nominated for the VESTAS and why?

Regina: We have nominated all these enterprises for the VESTAS:


  • Boutiquehotel Stadthalle - The World’s First City Hotel with a Zero Energy-Balance ( but not only because of this...

  • Biohotel Florian - one of the ecolabel pioneers in Austria: first Tirolean hotel with the Austrian Ecolabel, first Austrian (and 3rd European) hotel with the EU-Ecolabel (EU-Flower), certified 100% organic and vegetarian wholefood kitchen, green electricity, pellet heating system, waste reduction like no other hotel, and ...

  • VILA VITA Pannonia - ecotourism center for renewable energy; reduction of 797 tons CO2 per year

Tour packages

  • "Sommerfrische" im Rogner Bad Blumau ****  - the renaissance of the traditional "summer retreat" in a modern and ecological spa, designed by the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser
  • Im Blickwinkel der Donau  -  walking as the most sustainable way of travelling, through a wonderful landscape, visiting historical sites, staying in a ecolabeled accommodation, ...
  • Donauradweg Schärding - Passau - Wien - the most popular cycling tour of Austria alongside the danube, travelling through natural and cultural heritage ,...

Valere: If you had one wish – what should happen in 2011 to support your certification programme in making tourism more sustainable?

Regina: Guests travelling in and to Austria (and of course also all those travelling worldwide) should be aware of the importance of sustainable tourism, should be asking for certified products and should be happy to find them!

Valere Tjolle