Norway is a country of outstanding natural beauty – dramatic waterfalls, crystal clear fjords, majestic mountains, captivating wilderness and spectacular glaciers – and preserving this unspoilt and beautiful landscape is key to encourage people to visit. This is why Norway is constantly working to improve and increase sustainability – a goal that also applies to the meetings industry.
Energy efficiency and waste reduction
Most hotels and conference venues in Norway are making efforts to control energy and water consumption, as well as waste generation and recycling. In room energy-saving devices such as automatic light switches, low-flush toilets, wash basins with sensors, as well as energy efficient dishwashers and washing machines and low dosing and eco-labelled chemicals for cleaning and washing up are now common place. In many hotels bed linen and towels are no longer changed daily unless specifically requested by guests. A number of disposable products have been replaced, and some hotels, like Rica, have replaced mineral water with bottled tap water.
Local food and organic food
Many hotels feature organic products on their menus. For example, Scandic have decided to say no to genetically modified (GM) foods. They serve organic breakfast and fair trade coffee.
Rica hotels feature local food specialities in several of their hotels, to showcase both the unique gastronomic identity of each region and the diversity of Norwegian cuisine. This also contributes to the development and growth of small scale food producers.
Working with and for local communities
Maximizing positive contributions to the local community is another important aspect of sustainable tourism. Several Norwegian companies have been successfully working within their community, taking part in local events, funding sports, volunteering, and so on.
At the opening of the new Scandic Hotel Fornebu for example, staff went from door to door and spoke with local residents, telling them about the hotel and asking for input on how the hotel could get involved locally. Residents were encouraged to take part in a brainstorming session and to come up with suggestions for how to make the Snarøya area a better place to live and visit.
Developing nature-based activities
Many operators in Norway offer safe, nature-based activities such as dog-sledding, hiking, kayaking, as well as bird watching and wildlife safaris. These are all environmentally friendly activities with little or no impact on local ecosystems.
Sustainable transportation options
Some conference hotels offer transport services that minimize the need for many single taxi rides, others encourage guests to use public transportation. Providing maps with walking routes, and offering bike rental also help keep visitors carbon footprint low.
Educational training programmes
Innovation Norway has training programmes for the industry, including a course in sustainable tourism. Acquiring a certification inevitably leads to a quality improvement for the businesses completing the course.
An increasing number of Norwegian hotels acquire an environmental certification, meaning they have taken great steps in waste management, energy efficiency and reduced chemical and water usage. The main green certifications you will meet in Norway are:
Destination Røros: Best practice in action
In 2012, Destination Røros, Innovation Norway’s national pilot for sustainable tourism since 2009, received the prestigious Tourism for Tomorrow Award for Destination Stewardship at the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Awards celebration in Tokyo. The awards are among the highest accolades in the global travel and tourism industry, giving international recognition to best practice examples of sustainable tourism in action.
Destination Røros was also the overal winner of the Virgin Holidays Responsible Travel award in 2011. The jury commented: "This former mining town in Norway may have been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980, but it's been preserving traditions as a tourist destination for over 85 years. Attracting over one million visitors each year, the town of just 3,700 inhabitants maintains its sense of place through a 'local knowledge' programme run for over 90 businesses, local food safaris and much more."
Green Meeting Industry Council