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14.06.07
Green is the New Gold

Hotel and guest house owners should go green if they want to make money and have a marketing edge according to speakers at a conference this week.

The half day event, 'Green is the New Gold', demonstrated the benefits of the Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS) and was organised by the honey2cornwall programme in partnership with CoaST. It was held at the Bedruthan Steps Hotel, Mawgan Porth, which is an acknowledged leader in Cornwall in sustainable practices, and holds a GTBS Gold award. Topics included energy, water, local food and drink and low impact cleaning materials.

GTBS is a national accreditation scheme (with bronze, silver and gold ratings) for tourism businesses who demonstrate sustainable, ethical and environmental practice. honey2cornwall is a project run by Newquay For Excellence Training that has received Objective One investment and offers expert, tailored business support as well as grants to hotel and guest house owners. CoaST has also received Objective One investment and aims to encourage sustainable tourism.

According to one speaker Cornwall is a GTBS exemplar as it is the only place in the UK where members hold only silver and gold awards, with no bronzes. Matt Hocking, founder of Leap Media, said: "The bronze award sets a very high standard yet all Cornwall's members have all achieved even higher – silver and gold."

Leap was set up in 2004 and specialises in award winning sustainable design, marketing and print. Clients include the National Trust, GTBS, Bedruthan Steps Hotel and St Austell Brewery. Wherever possible Matt uses recycled paper and sustainable materials. "We create fantastic designs and products that work at an economic, environmental and social level for our clients and the environment," he explained. "And it is not just about using recycled paper it is about going beyond, creating conversations and distinction and telling people the stories about what you have done – for instance reserved table signs made from locally sourced wood from Heligan Gardens."

Other speakers (at the June 12th event) included Chris Wikeley, honey2cornwall business mentor; Manda Brookman and Jacqui Piper, of CoaST; Andrew Biss, of the Primrose Valley hotel and Martin Barlow, of the Budock Vean Hotel (both GTBS gold award holders). There was also a tour of the Bedruthan Steps Hotel.

Martin and Amanda Barlow run the family owned, four star, 57-bedroom, Budock Vean Hotel near Mawnan Smith. Mr Barlow pointed out that many of the hotel facilities were not necessarily environmentally friendly (for instance a golf course) but they had introduced many sustainable measures to achieve the GTBS gold.

"Our primary objective is to make a profit. I am an hotelier in an enterprise where every penny counts. But there is no conflict between the profit objective and the objective of being environmentally responsible."

He told delegates that since introducing measures such as towel cards (giving guests the choice of reusing their towels), low energy light bulbs (90% of the 1200 bulbs needed), small kettles, water butts, and 70% local product sourcing, the hotel was saving thousands of pounds annually. On site waste treatment has meant a £1,500 a year saving and using non mains water for irrigation of the estate has meant the daily per person consumption of water figure has reduced from 177 litres to 146.

The company is also committed to organic management of its golf course, has contributed to a Helford River garden ferry to help guests who do not want to use cars and has a large tree planting and bird and bat box programme.

"We firmly believe that, all other things being equal, people are now making decisions on destinations on whether they feel that destination is more sustainable than another," added Mr Barlow.

Andrew and Sue Biss run the 10-bedroom, five star guest accommodation, Primrose Valley, at St Ives, the first in Cornwall to receive GTBS accreditation. They add a £1 a night levy which guests can opt out of. The pound goes to the Marine Conservation Society and so far the Bisses have contributed £4,000 to the charity. Mr Biss said: "Only six guests have asked to have the charge removed. We are very much about the quality experience. We have worked closely with CoaST and honey2cornwall to achieve this and the GTBS was a natural progression. We encourage guests to eat with us where virtually all the producers we use are local. Or we encourage them to go to cafes and restaurants that follow the same principles."

Along with a whole raft of sustainable measures required to attain a GTBS gold award Primrose Valley has gone to the effort of using recycled Foamex 'Do Not Disturb' signs. Other environmentally friendly measures include using towel cards, local Trevarno soaps and supplying a list of car free activities.

"We encourage guests but we don't preach to them and they appreciate that," added Mr Biss. "One of our messages is that the greatest thing a guest can do is turn the room lights off when they go out. That measure has the potential to have the largest effect environmentally."

Delegates at the workshop included local providers demonstrating how businesses can easily source products such as soap, food and low energy lighting from within Cornwall.

Manda Brookman, CoaST Director, said: "A few years ago only a small number of people knew what we were talking about. Now we can't keep up with demand. Since 2003 we have more than 1,000 members applying to join our network via our website – so interest is ramping up! In Cornwall there are already nearly 50 GTBS members and approaching 400 expressions of interest. The increased business efficiencies from being sustainable will lead to typical cost savings of 10 to 30%, lower environmental impact and better marketing profile. Cornwall gets in the region of 4 to 5 million visitors a year and 80% of holiday consumers say they would choose environmentally accredited accommodation over a site that is not accredited."

Ruth Vincent, honey2cornwall, said: "There is no doubt that there has been a sea change with environmental issues. Eighteen years ago quality was the buzzword and this is now an intrinsic part of business. Sustainability is also now very much part and parcel of business and something we have all got to think about."

For further information please contact Clare Morgan, Media Relations Manager for the Objective One Partnership, on 01872 223439/07973 813647 or email cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the honey2cornwall programme through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and in the CoaST project through the European Social Fund (ESF).

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Editor's notes:

honey2cornwall is the follow on from HONEY, a highly successful project that led to accommodation providers in the Newquay area dramatically improving the quality of what was on offer to visitors. Because of its success honey2cornwall was launched, rolling the project out across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Both HONEY and honey2cornwall have received Objective One investment and are administered by Newquay for Excellence Training Limited and Restormel Borough Council. honey2cornwall is based around quality and the National Assured Quality Standards (NQAS) together with five core disciplines:

Guest Service – adding value for the guest
Marketing Approach – incorporating all aspects of marketing
Pricing Strategy – costs and pricing for every element of the business
Support Systems – addressing IT, HR and legislative matters
Physical Environment – grant aided enhancements & equipment purchases

Expert information is also provided to honey2cornwall members via workshops. Each workshop is created around a specific brief and designed to be very different from the standard 'talk and chalk' style. The workshop environment also encourages members to network. Every honey2cornwall member is eligible to apply for up to £30,000*, which can be used towards enhancing their businesses to help them meet their quality goals. A Gateway Fund Manager is available to guide members through their applications.
honey2cornwall has a total project investment in excess of £6million, including £2,315,952 from the Objective One ERDF (European Regional Development Fund). This equates to thousands of pounds worth of professional assistance per business.

*Terms and conditions apply.

The CoaST Project received £247,720 from the Objective One ESF (European Social Fund) for a project worth £550,490. The CoaST Project is an independent, not for private profit company which operates a network for all tourism businesses and other stakeholders to improve and increase engagement with sustainable business practice. Membership includes on-site, on-line, and off-line support, plus templates, resources and access to the collective expertise of an increasing network. It also offers free technical support for CoaST member businesses who wish to apply for the Green Tourism Business Scheme. They can be contacted on: 01872 562057 or info@coastproject.co.uk.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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