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Focus on the VESTAS number 2: ECOCAMPING

Marco Walter

ECOCAMPING 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 ECOCAMPING introduces itself and its aims

The first VESTA winners will be announced at ITB Berlin in 2011.

Marco Walter of ECOCAMPING 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 it start? Who are the guiding team and what do they do?)
Marco Walter: ECOCAMPING is a registered association and has been active since 2002; before, ECOCAMPING was a project of the international Lake Constance Foundation, which started the project in 1998. The members of ECOCAMPING are mostly camping associations and environmental organisations.

The most important aim is the improvement of environment protection, nature conservation, safety, quality and qualification of the entrepreneurs and their staff, as well as an image improvement in politics and Civil Service. Ultimately, ECOCAMPING aims to support the whole business towards sustainability and success.

Valere:  What organisations are certified? Where are they? and what are they certified for?
Marco: Currently, 230 camping businesses are awarded with ECOCAMPING MANAGEMENT – in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Denmark.

To exemplary camp sites, ECOCAMPING awards the distinction of ECOCAMPING

  • MANAGEMENT. This stands for the excellent organisation of environmental protection and service quality.
  • ECOCAMPING and the participating camp sites want to realise the following goals
  • Increasing the satisfaction of guests through high service quality standards
  • minimising and recycling waste
  • using energy and water efficiently
  • damaging neither soil nor water supplies with sewage
  • designing and maintaining camp sites in a nature-oriented way
  • avoiding damage / pollution caused by traffic
  • cleaning in an environmentally friendly way
  • avoiding the use of environmentally damaging materials
  • processing and selling regionally produced products
  • considering nature and the environment with the choice of leisure activities.

Valere: In your view, what has your and other certification programmes achieved so far and what have they failed to achieve?
Marco: I can only answer for our program. In my view we achieved to build up the largest network of sustainable camping sites in Europe. We achieved to bring together all important organisations for the camping sector in Germany for the goal of sustainable camping tourism. We achieved to increase the knowledge of campers mainly on German campsites about eco aspects and ECOCAMPING within the last 10 years. In our last guest survey from summer 2010 41 percent of the campers already knew about ECOCAMPING. Nine years ago only 14 percent have heard something about ECOCAMPING before. And we achieved to bring ecological aspects from a nice-to-have to a must-have for campsites with the goal of being better than others. Until now we have failed to reach the camping sector of Europe with our certificate, because less than 10 percent of the companies with ECOCAMPING are outside of Germany. But we will do our best to change this situation!

Valere:  Which best practices have you nominated for the VESTAS and why?
Marco: It was, of course, very difficult to nominate 3 of 230 companies for the VESTAS. Every campsite with ECOCAMPING has its special strengths and interesting aspects. We nominated “Jesolo International Club Camping“ from Italy because of its unique concept of climate protection, “CAP-Integrations-gGmbH“ from Germany because of its integration concept for handicapped employers and „Campingpark Kerstgenshof“ from Germany for its nature orientated communication zones and playgrounds as a concept to harmonise the needing of humans and nature. 

Valere:  If you had one wish – what should happen in 2011 to support your certification programme in making tourism more sustainable?
Marco: The first alien is landing on a campsite with ECOCAMPING certificate and explains: “I am here to make my first camping holiday on earth and there is something I want to learn: How can I bring the ECOCAMPING idea to my home planet!”

Valere Tjolle