A pilot project for a new program called Sustainable Travel West Virginia is nearing completion and has received good feedback so far. The free, voluntary program, which is a joint effort of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the Division of Tourism, allows tourism-related facilities that have made a commitment to environmental stewardship and community support to benchmark those practices against industry standards. Those facilities can then promote those practices to the public through their membership in Sustainable Travel West Virginia.
“We see Sustainable Travel West Virginia as a valuable tool not only in the protection and preservation of our environment, but also in helping members of the public make smart choices about the facilities they use and visit,” said DEP Cabinet Secretary Randy C. Huffman.
“And the benefits don’t end there,” added Tourism Commissioner Amy Goodwin. “Sustainable Travel West Virginia will also help tourism-related organizations better evaluate and improve energy and cost savings efforts, promote those efforts and hopefully see an increase in business from consumers who appreciate those efforts.”
Members of this voluntary program would enter data such as energy and water use, amount of recycling conducted versus waste generated, use of energy efficient appliances and windows, and use of locally produced materials into a third-party database called enviroIndex™ to get a full rating report. Upon acceptance into the program, they’ll receive logos that can be used to market their “green” status, will have their business included in an online map application that will allow members of the public to search for sustainable travel and tourism destinations, and will receive promotional assistance from DEP and Tourism.
The feedback received during the pilot, which runs through the end of the month, will be used to gauge interest in the program and enhance it – with a goal to initiate a full-scale launch in 2017. Even though there are only a few days left in the pilot, tourism and travel industry businesses are still encouraged to register, use the ratings tool and provide feedback.
Companies interested in signing up for the pilot can email email@example.com to request assistance. Information about the program can also be found on the DEP website here (http://www.dep.wv.gov/pio/sustainability/swv/stwv/Pages/default.aspx) and on YouTube here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJE1ebo1d-I).
For more DEP news and information, go to www.dep.wv.gov. Also, be sure to connect with the agency on all social media platforms. Follow @DEPWV on Twitter and find us on YouTube by searching “Environment Matters.” For specific information about our REAP (Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan), West Virginia Project WET (Water Education for Teachers), West Virginia Watershed Improvement Branch, Youth Environmental Program and Human Resources initiatives, connect on Facebook.