Legitimate eco-labels in Europe

Frequently asked questions with regard to quality labels and sustainability labels are: what do they verify and which ones really make sense? These questions are also important for many holiday accommodation owners and their guests.

The last five years in particular have seen a whole series of labels and quality seals emerge. There are currently around 400 ecotourism labels worldwide. In this jungle of labels, it is not always easy to find your way around and to distinguish between greenwashing and effective recognition of standards in sustainability.

In the case of Germany, although only 13% of Germans recognize a label for ecological travel, three-quarters of them factor in certifications and labels when choosing their lodgings. Consequently, it is crucial for suppliers not only to commit themselves to environmental protection, but also to pay attention to which certification they opt for.

Let's do a little test: which of the following labels do you recognize straight away? Ecogîtes, Hotels au naturel, legambiente Turismo, Biohotels, Blaue Schwalbe, Green Tourism, Nordic Ecolabel, Ibex Fairstay_ most likely those widespread in your own country. These labels would most likely impact your decision when choosing the accommodation. It is therefore advisable to strive for a European-wide certification that labels all types of travel accommodation according to ecological criteria in order to be successful in the European market.

In this case, you don't have to search long. Among the dozen or so existing labels, the best known are the following internationally recognised labels: the European Eco-label, the “green key” label:http://www.green-key.org/ and the certification body Ecocert. These labels have not only invested the most in marketing and awareness-raising campaigns at a European level, they also offer a high level of transparency with regard to their evaluation criteria and are thus a reliable guiding aid for consumers. At the same time, they seek to maintain a policy of affordable prices.

More information can be found on the label-online website.

The European Eco Label


The European Eco-label was conceived in 1992 with the aim of enhancing products and services that promote respect for nature. In the tourism sector, the award is given to accommodation and campsites that are considered to be particularly ecological and use energy-saving measures and renewable energies. The symbol of the stylised flower is used and recognised in 27 countries within the European Union. The certification is monitored by an independent organisation in each country.

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The Green Key

 Logo The green Key

The Danish label The Green Key was developed in 1994 and initially intended for hotels only. The certification was soon extended to campsites in France and in 1998, to other types of accommodation. The Green Key aims to promote the conservation of natural resources and the use of regional agricultural and ecological products.

The label currently exists in 17 European countries and is monitored by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE: http://www.fee-international.org/en), which also annually awards the famous “Blue Flag”: http://www.blaue-flagge.de/ label to beaches, waters and marinas.

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Our partner Atmosfair is a German initiative to actively promote climate protection by offsetting greenhouse gases with renewable energies. Atmosfair was founded in 2004 and is a joint initiative of the tourism association forum anders reisen, the environmental and development organisation Germanwatch and the Federal Environment Ministry. Through this partnership, a value of CO₂ compensation is calculated for each of our accommodations, allowing you to measure the owners' commitment.

Through this partnership, a value of CO₂ compensation is calculated for each of our accommodations, allowing you to measure the owners' commitment.


Ecocert is an independent and internationally recognised inspection and certification body for organic farming. Founded in 1991 in France and accredited the following year as an “ecological inspection body”, Ecocert is now active in more than 80 countries and is the leading company in its field. Along with agricultural products, it also certifies products in the fields of natural cosmetics and wellness, textiles and cleaning agents agricultural products according to strict sustainability criteria. In addition, Ecocert sets standards in the areas of climate protection and fair trade to guarantee the sustainability of local agriculture and fair relations between producers and processors. The constant monitoring of these standards serves to protect consumers and helps as a reliable seal for consumer orientation.

Blaue Schwalbe

Die Blaue Schwalbe (German for Blue Swallow) is awarded by the magazine Verträglich Reisen of the publishing house fairkehr GmbH since 1990. Environmentally friendly accommodations are certified with Die Blaue Schwalbe if they have a healthy wholefood or organic cuisine with regional products and show responsibility towards nature and the environment. Most of the certified accommodations are family businesses. Since November 2015, our portal has been awarded with this label. The underlying criteria include extensive eco-friendly measures in the areas of catering, transport, energy, water, waste, cleaning agents, gardens and leisure activities.