Can going on a golfing holiday be responsible?

Golf The relationship between golf and responsible tourism has always been a contentious one. The displacement of people and wildlife, disruption to natural habitats, transformation of landscapes and overdependence on finite resources like water make golf a difficult area to manage sustainably.

The development of golf courses can have a considerable environmental footprint, can be considered exclusive of local people, and offer limited opportunities for long term or highly skilled employment in destinations.

The negative impacts of golf in key destinations have made them a controversial inclusion in accommodations around the world, and in the past we have taken a strong stance in not promoting those accommodations with golf courses.

In recent years this has started to change, with more and more organisations committed to sustainable golf practices lobbying to not only change the existing industry, but ensure the sustainable development of golf courses going forward.

Our stance
We believe that golf, like other activities present in the tourism industry, can and should be managed to minimise negative impacts on local environments and communities, and has the potential to be developed sustainably alongside landscapes, wildlife and communities. Where possible, we would like to recognise the efforts of the golf industry (where associated with holiday accommodations) to reduce their impacts and operate in a long-term sustainable way that benefits local people and destinations.

For this reason, we will promote those accommodations with golf courses attached, provided they have been GEO Certified™ with the Golf Environment Organization.

The Golf Environment Organization aims to grow public awareness of the environmental and social impacts of golf, provide guidance on sustainability in golf, and reward achievement and recognise standards with their GEO Certified™ Ecolabel.

About the Golf Environment Organization
GEO certified, image courtesy of Steven CookThe GEO (Golf Environment Organization) is a not-for-profit organization aimed at helping the golf community tap into its potential as a sustainable industry. They aim to ensure golf courses are run as responsible, resource efficient businesses set in ecologically rich landscapes. As part of their efforts to transform the industry, they have developed a certification label, 'GEO Certified™'.

"GEO Certified™ is the only ecolabel available in golf with full transparency, trained and accredited on-site verification, and the most comprehensive approach to continual improvement. It is not a membership programme or award, but rather a highly-credible ecolabel, following the modern day standards to ensure stakeholders and consumers can trust the sustainability assurance that is being presented."

In addition to the certification programme, GEO have designed the GEO OnCourse™ Programme. GEO OnCourse™ is a practical, web-based programme that guides golf clubs toward the GEO Certified™ ecolabel - achieving continually improving sustainability performance. When all six of the Action Areas have been considered by working through the online guidance, an independent verifier visits the golf club before recommending the facility for the GEO Certified™ ecolabel.

For more information about GEO Certified™ and the Golf Environment Organization, visit the Golf Environment Organization website.
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