The entire team at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience is absolutely delighted to achieve 3-Star Eco-certification through the Sustainable Tourism Eco-Certification Program (STEP). This thorough, independently audited Eco-certification is awarded by Sustainable Travel International to tourism businesses around the world who achieve the necessary standards in all areas of their business.
“Our approach to eco-tourism and sustainability runs through every level of the business,” states Katherine Webster, Director of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience. “We're proud of the many changes we've made, from the sustainable technologies built into the underground visitor center, to the turbo hand dryers in the toilets that use less energy and avoid use of paper hand towels; from the use of local suppliers and contractors, to the increased use of online marketing and communication with the local community. Eco-tourism isn’t just a project – it’s a way of doing business.”
Some waste and energy management initiatives undertaken by the Visitor Center were super simple – like the use of see-through trash bags for recycling areas, and the addition of pictorial signs on bins to help non-English speaking visitors. Signs have been added to the site, which encourage staff to turn off appliances and equipment. The company recently took over the café operation and refocused the food offering on more local products and suppliers, which visitors to the Cliffs have been very excited about. The visitor center also undertook an exercise in 2011 to measure its carbon foot print, and has achieved carbon neutrality through reductions in energy efficiency and the purchase of offsets.
The Cliffs of Moher have collaborated with STI since 2009, including a project with an STI-sponsored research student based at Sligo Institute of Technology, who worked alongside the Cliffs of Moher Green Team to develop and implement the required policies and procedures. The Cliffs of Moher are one of the first Irish tourism businesses to achieve STEP Eco-certification. This Achievement comes on the heels of being awarded the 2010 Green Award for the Entertainment & Leisure industry.
The Cliffs of Moher are one of 28 finalists in a global online campaign to find the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The final 7 will be announced on 11th November 2011.
The Cliffs of Moher is also a member of the Burren Ecotourism Network – a group of tourism businesses committed to the principles and actions of ecotourism in the North Clare area. This group has been working together to promote the area as a premier ecotourism destination. (www.burrenecotourism.com)
“Natural attractions are obvious candidates for leadership in the area of ecotourism,” believes Phoebe Larkin, Team Leader & Green Champion at the Cliffs of Moher. “The Cliffs are a Special Protected Area for Seabirds, and the conservation factor is one of the reasons why visitors want to come here. Gaining the STEP Eco-certification is an important piece of evidence that we are caring for the natural environment and local community.”