I’m in the sunny Southeast to show how environmental tourism
is no longer a niche market - it’s now mainstream.
Local tourism initiatives in Counties Wexford and Waterford
are being aimed at our green conscience and our pockets.
Was there a beach that you liked?
What about making sandcastles and things? do you do that?
We built some sandcastles in Tramore and we made some yesterday didn’t we?
And granny flattened down my sandcastle and I tried to pull it back up again.
Flattened your sandcastle? What a thing to do.
Staying in Ireland for a holiday what’s the difference between say heading abroad...?
You can bring an awful lot more stuff with you if you are in Ireland
whereas if you are going abroad there’s a bigger packing job.
It has improved - since we’ve had Aisling it has improved a lot.
Families like these are becoming more conscious of seeking out holiday accommodation
that is not only value for money but is also environmentally friendly.
The EPA have established Green Hospitality Awards
to change the culture around the tourism industry.
The main project that we have running in the Green Business Initiative
is called the Green Hospitality Award,
encouraging hotels to measure their environmental impacts,
and progress through a staged scheme
going from a bronze award through silver, to gold, to platinum.
We've got about 160 - 170 hotels in the scheme at the moment
and it’s growing all the time.
Many hotels in the South-East region have taken up the EPA hospitality challenge
including Faithlegg House Hotel and golf club in Waterford.
Faithlegg were awarded a silver in the Green Hospitality awards in 2008
I’m curious to know how they achieved this.
Since 2004 we have approximately 78 different initiatives we’ve taken on.
They don’t have to cost a lot of money
and that’s the whole key to energy, water and waste management.
What’s striking about this hotel is the difference their small energy saving
and recycling initiatives can make totalling 78.
We were just printing on one side of the sheet of paper
and then that paper was gone.
Actually one of our green team had the idea,
“why not print on the reverse side of the menu?”
and in that one initiative alone, we saved over €1000 in that year.
Really just on menus?
Just on menus.
That’s incredible. Your energy running costs in the hotel must be huge too
because demands for energy in a hotel are colossal aren’t they?
Absolutely. Our energy costs would be anywhere between
€35,000 to €45,000 per year.
Well lighting at the moment, we’ve done quite well
we have approximately 60 to 70% of our bulbs now are long life
but one measure that we did take last year was that
we actually reduced the temperature of the pool by 1.5 degrees.
And did you save much money by doing that?
We would have saved, over the entire year, approximately €8,000.
Just by that alone?
Just by reducing the temperature gauge by 1.5 degrees.
And nobody minds?
Do the guests appreciate this when they come here?
Absolutely. I think part of it is because
it’s kind of second nature now to a lot of Irish people, that they do it at home
and therefore why be any different when you come away on holidays?
Research by the EPA has shown that Irish hotels use nearly double
the amount of energy, water and waste as a typical European hotel.
We found out recently from even one of our best performing hotels
they’re throwing away something like
three and a half tonnes of food waste per week over the whole year.
You know that could be costing them, just in lost food alone,
up to half a million Euros and that’s a significant amount of money.
So regarding waste,
what sort of strategies have you got to reduce your amount of waste?
Last year we diverted 118 tonnes of waste from landfill
You must have made a lot of savings in money?
Absolutely, since we started our waste and energy conservation programme
we’ve probably saved in and around the region of €70,000.
For Alison’s team to achieve a gold award
they could switch to wood energy, solar and wind power.
It’s vital now for the tourism industry to become greener and leaner
and save on money and waste.
I can see you getting this gold medal very quickly or this gold award,
is that your target?
If 800 hotels in Ireland took part in the scheme and reached gold standard
it would save in the region of 160,000 tonnes of CO²
we would stop 60,000 tonnes of waste from ending up in landfills.
We’d save four and a half million cubic metres of water.
You know all these are significant savings.
So a practical way to cut your carbon footprint
and still have a fun filled family holiday
is by minimising air travel, staying in green accommodation
and by reducing car use by using sustainable transport.
So what do you like about this area?
Beautiful scenery, lovely, lovely walks absolutely gorgeous.
Have you been here before
No this is the first time and what we’ve seen so far, it’s absolutely beautiful.
Lovely unspoilt, and by travelling like this all together in a bus,
our CO² emissions for transport are really reduced dramatically.
This would be probably equivalent to 20 cars you know?
I met Gary Breen from Fáilte Ireland in Dunmore East
to find out more about a new initiative for families in the region.
There are numerous things you can do here in Ireland nowadays.
We can’t always guarantee the fine weather
but we have a tremendous amount of heritage sites that one can visit,
activities both on land and on sea that one can participate in
and then we have excellent pubs and restaurants,
many of which are family friendly.
We have a programme operating at the moment called our Family Fun Programme;
pubs, restaurants, hotels and so on,
all having signed up to a Family Friendly Charter
effectively a promise to the consumer to deliver a minimum standard.
So what about eco-friendly activities in the Southeast to further cut our carbon footprint?
Dunmore East Adventure Centre offers numerous activities
where children can enjoy and explore nature with minimal environmental impact.
What’s important about the environment?
You have to keep the water clean
Water clean? That’s important, no pollution so the fish don’t die, isn’t that right?
Or the ducks
and a starfish!
And a starfish too, all the fish in the water.
And a turtle!
These five year olds impressed me with their environmental knowledge.
Further up the coast in Tramore, in scorching sunshine,
I saw at firsthand how enjoyable and educational the free activities
such as surfing and snorkelling are.
I joined Grace O’Sullivan from Oceanic Surf School
on a popular ecological shoreline tour
We take children out on guided tours and we teach them surfing as well
so they are exposed to a whole range of different type of habitats here in Tramore.
Look at this fella this is a periwinkle and a periwinkle is a herbivore.
Do you know what a herbivore is? What is it?
It’s when they only eat like vegetables.
Exactly. So look this is a shore crab.
I just love to show them what’s happening here, the type of biodiversity,
the life in the pools because I grew up here, Duncan,
and I wish someone had shown me when I was a child.
I was very lucky, my mother was great at this too.
She showed us all these things when I was a child and I really appreciate that now.
Ireland is perfectly placed to develop environmental tourism
with miles of stunning coastlines.
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