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Vail is once again receiving international recognition for its collective sustainability efforts by being named the Best of the Top 100 Sustainable Destinations. A delegation from Vail is in Europe this week to accept the award in the Best of the Americas category, which is being presented in partnership with ITB Berlin, the world’s leading travel trade show, which runs March 7-11.
Vail is among 33 finalists being recognized as the World’s Best Sustainable Destinations. The selection was made by a jury representing 12 international organizations from among 100 top sustainable destinations. Categories included Best of Cities, Communities & Culture, Best of Nature, Best of Seaside, Earth Award (for environment & climate) and also the best of each geographic region of the world.
The award is presented 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 was named a finalist in the award competition in February after being named to the top 100 list during the Global Green Destinations Gala in Portugal last September.
Presentation ceremonies on Wednesday, March 7 are being attended on behalf of the community by Kim Langmaid, founder and vice president of Walking Mountains Science Center and a Vail Town Council member, along with Kristen Bertuglia, Town of Vail environmental sustainability manager, and Mia Vlaar, Town of Vail economic development director. They also attended a reception on Tuesday, March 6 hosted by Vail Resorts and their German sales team.
Vail and the other finalists 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.
“It is an honor to be recognized by the ITB, and a tremendous opportunity to help increase the visibility of sustainable destinations in the tourism industry,” said Vlaar.
This is third year for the Top 100 Sustainable Destinations competition and the first year for Green Destinations’ partnership with ITB Berlin.
Bertuglia says the award does much to recognize efforts at the grassroots level. “At the root of our economy and our identity as a community is the natural world, we have a responsibility to ensure that tourism is a force for good and Vail is a model sustainable mountain resort,” she said.
An emphasis on collaboration is also at the heart of the recognition, according to Langmaid. “It’s an honor to work with all of our partners in Vail to accomplish this prestigious award. Vail has a strong history of leadership in environmental sustainability and we’ll continue to raise the bar as we look to the future.”
The spirit of collaboration is also shared by Vail Mountain’s Environmental Manager Brian Rodine. “This designation is a testament to the collaboration of many throughout the Vail community on the journey towards sustainability. We are proud to be able to align our Epic Promise for a Zero Footprint goals with this very important effort.”
A total of 155 nominations were received from 57 countries during the competition. 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.
In addition to the Top 100 Sustainable Destination award, Vail is awaiting word from the Global Sustainable Tourism Council on its application to become the first certified Sustainable Destination in the U.S. Other initiatives include a goal to reduce local emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and collaborative actions at the national, state and local levels to address climate change.
For additional details, visit the Global Green Destinations website at www.greendestinations.org.