Oklahoma has launched seven pilot programs as part of ECO (Encouraging Conservation in Oklahoma) - a sustainable travel initiative.
The seven pilot programs include the Colcord Hotel, Oklahoma City; Keystone State Park, Sand Springs; Maple Place Bed and Breakfast, Enid; Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, Oklahoma City; Oklahoma Tourism Information Center, Blackwell; Polo Grill, Tulsa; and Science Museum Oklahoma, Oklahoma City.
Interesting part is that ECO will also identify sustainable travel options such as lodging, restaurants and attractions so that tourists seeking green travel will have easy access to this information.
This taps right into filling one of the biggest holes in the sustainable travel sector. A recent US Travel Assoc. survey found that less than one-third (29%) say it is easy to find out about environmental policies and initiatives of travel service suppliers.
In the same survey, 51% of consumers said they will continue to patronize “green” travel service suppliers regardless of an economic downturn. In fact, nearly half (48%) of travelers say that continuing to support environmentally-responsible travel service suppliers is a necessity, even in an economic downturn.
What this means is that while travelers understand the importance of sustainable travel, many travel companies haven’t yet got the message.
If other states were to follow the examples set by states like Virginia (Virginia Green) and Oklahoma (ECO), and provide eco travel tips and a comprehensive listing of statewide certified green travel companies, environmentally conscious consumers would have more options to choose from.
ECO is a partnership between the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, and offers education, certification and marketing support for businesses who want to go green.
They have also teamed up with Clean the World and The International Ecotourism Society. Shawn Seipler, executive director of Clean the World, said that ECO and members of the Oklahoma tourism industry will be working with Clean the World to collect ‘gently-used’ hotel soaps and shampoos which will be recycled and shipped to Third World countries to prevent illnesses and help save lives.
And two out of the seven pilot program properties are operated directly by Oklahoma Tourism, so it’s not just talk – they’re taking the trouble to show other travel companies in Oklahoma how to do it.
More details about ECO, visit the Oklahoma Tourism site’s ECO page – www.travelok.com/eco/
Photo by Wesley Fryer