Vail has made international news for its collective sustainability efforts by being named to the Top 100 Sustainable Destinations in 2017 by Green Destinations. The Top 100 list was officially announced this week during the Global Green Destinations Gala in Cascais, Portugal, in celebration of World Tourism Day. Representing Vail during the Sept. 28 presentation was Kim Langmaid, founder and vice president of Walking Mountains and a Vail town council member; Kristen Bertuglia, town of Vail environmental sustainability manager; Mark Hoblitzell, town of Vail environmental sustainable coordinator; and Melissa Kirr, Walking Mountains sustainability programs director.
This is third year for the Top 100 Sustainable Destinations competition sponsored by Green Destinations, a non-profit organization for sustainable tourism via a global partnership of expert organizations, companies and academic institutions with participation by destination representatives and stakeholders. Vail and Jackson Hole are the only U.S. destinations making the Top 100 list for 2017.
Vail and the other nominees were required to provide extensive information about their sustainability initiatives and their local and global impacts. The review process included an evaluation of 15 core criteria of the Green Destinations Standard, including cultural heritage conservation, solid waste reduction, accessibility and landscape and scenery.
“This nomination and award serve as a springboard to elevating Vail's work in sustainability to be compared with not only peer resort communities, but global leaders in resource preservation, ecological protection, cultural, educational, and societal advancements. Communities in the Top 100 are models in sustainable development and tourism and are dedicated to the exchange of best practices,” said Bertuglia.
A total of 155 nominations were received from 57 countries. All nominations were evaluated by experts of the Green Destinations Top 100 Team and by members of the special Top 100 Selection Panel, which included over 60 tourism sustainability experts.
Vail Mayor Dave Chapin says the designation is a proud moment for the entire community. “To be in the company of these other great destinations is an incredible honor and speaks to the breadth of our local efforts," he said.
Fritz Bratschie, regional environmental sustainability manager for Vail Resorts agrees. "We are pleased that the collective efforts of the destination are being recognized by such a prestigious entity and we are excited to continue collaborating on sustainability in Vail."
While there are many reasons Vail is being recognized, community efforts over the past four years to achieve the Mountain IDEAL Sustainable Destination Certification played a vital role in making the Top 100 list, according to the Vail representatives. Mountain IDEAL is a destination certification standard recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and was created by Walking Mountains Science Center. Vail is currently waiting to hear back from the independent auditor, Magdelena Muir, who visited in July to determine if Vail has met the 40 criteria of the Mountain IDEAL standard.
“All of Vail’s sustainability efforts are a testament to the collaborative efforts of Vail Resorts, Town of Vail, Vail Chamber and Business Association, U.S. Forest Service, Vail Valley Partnership, Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, and many others,” offered Langmaid.
The Mountain IDEAL destination standard has been developed to address sustainability in mountain environments that include winter and summer activities. These unique challenges and opportunities include issues like water and energy use related to snow making and snow melting systems, affordable housing for residents and seasonal employees, collaborating with public land managers and the business community, and embracing mountain cultural heritage. Sustainable Travel International, Walking Mountains Science Center, and other partners have collaborated on the development of the Mountain IDEAL destination standard.
“There are so many partners that have come together to put the Vail community into the spotlight of sustainable tourism. However, Walking Mountains’ role as a convener and facilitator in creating the Mountain IDEAL destination standard along with helping Vail meet the criteria has been an integral part of our accomplishments,” added Bertuglia.
For additional details, visit the Global Green Destinations website at www.greendestinations.org
Green Destinations Standard – 15 Core Criteria
||A person has been assigned the responsibility and authority for the adequate implementation and reporting of sustainable destination management.
||The destination has an up-to-date, publicly available, multi-year tourism policy or strategy addressing all important issues.
||The protection of natural sites, habitats, species, and ecosystems is effectively addressed and enforced. Nature degradation is addressed.
||The use of animals in tourism is effectively controlled in order to decrease the risk of unnecessary suffering, disease, and death.
|Landscape & Scenery
||Natural and rural scenic views are protected and the sense of place is maintained; landscape degradation and urban sprawl is avoided.
|Waste Water Treatment
||Waste water treatment is adequately organized and relevant regulations are enforced, aimed to minimize impacts to people and the environment.
|Solid Waste Reduction
||Any solid waste is monitored, reduced, separated and recycled, and quantitative goals are set, especially regarding the reduction of plastic waste.
|Reduction Fossil Fuel Dependency
||Adequate measures and incentives exist to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and to encourage renewable energy technologies.
|Cultural Heritage Conservation
||The conservation, authenticity and aesthetic presentation of cultural resources, sites and built heritage, is adequately organized and enforced.
||Intangible cultural heritage and local life and culture, are adequately protected and respected.
|Protection of People
||The destination takes adequate measures to protect all people legally and effectively against commercial, sexual, or any other form of exploitation.
|Inhabitants Involved In Tourism
||Inhabitants are regularly involved in discussions on opportunities, challenges and sustainability of tourism development.
|Promoting Local Products
||The inclusion of local artisans, producers and service providers in the tourism value chain is supported; local and sustainable products are promoted.
|Health & Safety Prevention
||Crime, safety, and health hazards are adequately prevented and addressed.
||Access to tourism sites is supported for individuals with disabilities, where appropriate, whilst not harming the sites and their sense of place.
Top 100 Sustainable Destinations for 2017
Under blue skies more than 300 days each year, Vail is an extraordinary mountain resort destination. The vacation experience is exceptional, from the awe-inspiring terrain and natural beauty of the surrounding Gore and Sawatch Ranges to world-class events, activities and festivals, shops and spas, and the abundant culinary experiences and luxurious accommodations that line the pedestrian-friendly streets of Vail Village and Lionshead. Vail is where outdoor pursuits meet village sophistication. Offering more than 5,200 acres of developed ski and snowboard terrain including seven legendary Back Bowls in winter, and flourishing with new summer activities in preparation for the debut of Epic Discovery in 2016, the options for year-round adventure are endless. Coupled with the vision inherent in the spirit of Vail’s founders, and a modern day commitment to excellence in all aspects of guest service and operations, Vail is a mountain resort like nothing on earth.
About Walking Mountains Science Center
Walking Mountains Science Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit based in Avon, CO and their mission is to awaken a sense of wonder and inspire environmental stewardship and sustainability through natural science education. Their sustainability and stewardship department provides the Eagle County community education and coaching through their Energy Smart, Actively Green, Eco Schools and Zero Waste programs. Most recently Walking Mountains facilitated the creation of the Climate Action Plan for the Eagle County Community and is supporting the Town of Vail through the ongoing Sustainable Destination project. Visit walkingmountains.org or call 970.827.9725 for more information.