Dalmatia Green - environmentally friendly accommodation
Written by Ivana on April 27th 2019
When travelling, it is always beneficial to choose sustainable travel options, especially when it comes to your accommodation. Currently there is an ecological certification program for small tourist accommodation in Dalmatia, recognised by the Ministry of Tourism in the Republic of Croatia. This certification is designed to reduce the negative impact of tourism on the environment and promote innovative green offers. In order to find out more on this eco-friendly program, we talked to Tihana Arapović, the program coordinator who revealed some interesting information about this new tourist offer.
Q: There is an ongoing project within the organization Sunce called Dalmatia Green, could you tell us more about it and about your current role there?
A: Dalmatia Green is a program that stimulates sustainable tourism and promotes sustainable accommodation facilities, local/organic food, unique souvenirs, sustainable activities, a responsible way of traveling and visiting unique “undiscovered” locations in Dalmatia. We could put it in another way - choosing an environmentally friendly accommodation supplier with an emphasis on sustainable development and business, instead of a traditional accommodation supplier.
To me, this is a new experience, as the program coordinator. I’m trying to install a new way of thinking and acting within the local population in order to achieve the goal of living sustainably, whilst promoting local attractions and “green” accommodation.
Q: What is, according to you, the biggest problem Dalmatia and the coastal Croatian regions are facing in terms of sustainable tourism development?
A: The biggest problem today in these terms is the attitude or the setup people have when renting their tourist services. While sustainable tourism has new ideas, unique stories, authenticity, connection, cooperation and ways of reducing, reusing and recycling as the basic setup for its development, existing tourism in Croatia is still based on the opposite of the mentioned values. Our tourism is still based on fast and low-quality solutions without thinking about sustainability, energy conservation or local offers and it focuses mainly on the mass market, the competition and the principles of "everyone for themselves".
Q: What is necessary to get a Dalmatia Green certificate, how does the process of awarding the certification go?
A: We have a few easy steps to certify accommodation and obtain the Dalmatia Green label. The first step is, of course, to contact our office by e-mail or telephone. The second step is to evaluate the object, and after that, we determine which eco steps need to be taken to make the object sustainable. After the introduction of the eco steps, we come to the final examination and our renters receive one of the 3 Dalmatia Green certificates.
We have several “eco steps” by which our renters are recognizable, which are: tap reducers, local and organic food, energy saving lamps, waste recycling, ecological cleaning products, green mobility, rainwater harvesting and reuse, green construction, solar panels for heating water, renewable energy. If renters have half of these "eco steps", they are awarded the Dalmatia Green certificate.
With two thirds of "eco steps" they will receive the Dalmatia Green PLUS certificate, and by completing all or almost all of "eco steps" they will become Dalmatia Green PROs in providing sustainable accommodation to their guests, as well as an example of the most innovative ecological practice in Croatia.
Q: What are the biggest benefits for accommodation providers who join you?
A: All of our members are very happy when they realize how much “green accommodation” offers not just their guests, but them as well. Some of our biggest benefits are definitely the water and energy savings of at least 50%, (often over 70%), discounts by our partner companies from the "green sector" for water and energy saving products, the possibility of advertising through the Dalmatia Green website and Ecobnb world platform for booking ecological accommodation and improving the occupancy of the facility in the pre-and post-seasons by attracting sustainable tourists. These travellers have in mind that occupancy in those periods are one of the biggest problems in Croatian tourism.
Also, I would like to mention better opportunities to use incentives, subsidies and non-refundable financing, personal recognition, enhancement of reputation and high-quality guarantee for tourists, networking with the Dalmatia Green community of like-minded people and of course, satisfied guests and grateful nature and environment!
Q: What has been the biggest challenge you had to face in putting this project into realization?
A: I would say that the biggest challenge is to change the state of consciousness of renters. We are still thinking in the "old" way, and therefore it is more difficult to introduce changes, even though it is for the best. However, when renters notice changes in the people who work in fields close to them (accommodation, tourist activities etc.), they are more likely to make social changes that ultimately lead to sustainable tourism and development.
Q: How many people or accommodation facilities have been given the Dalmatia Green certificate so far? What are usually the hardest requirements to satisfy to become part of your network?
A: We are proud to say we have a network of 21 members who were given the Dalmatia Green certificate. We are getting more and more noticeable so we have new enquiries and demands for certification on a daily/weekly basis. Also, we are recognized by the Ministry of Tourism so people are getting more and more interested.
Considering the hardest requirements, I would have to say it is investing in photovoltaic systems, since it is a little more expensive than others. Although, even without it you can still get the highest Dalmatia Green certificate.
Q: What do you think people who wants to progress towards green accommodation should start with?
A: I suggest they contact us :-). Our mission and vision is to generate sustainable tourism that will leave nature untouched for future generations. We would also like to implement the principles that we advocate to all tourists and visitors. Think big, act small - take a small step towards a great idea and you will definitely accomplish it with time. Separate waste, put in water reducers and energy saving bulbs ... and you are already a few steps away from the Dalmatia Green certification.
Q: What is the long-term aim of such project, what do you hope to achieve?
A: Adopt the planned development of a tourist offer, as well as adding value and authenticity; constant improvement, responsible waste management and energy consumption - all of these are the long-term goals of this program. Perhaps the easiest way is to sum it up in a single sentence - to develop environmentally responsible business within private tourist accommodation.