Sustainable development is becoming an issue for business tourism.

Sustainable development is becoming an issue for business tourism.

Business tourism operators are undertaking a “sustainable development” initiative, often as part of a policy involving the whole of their respective municipality.

Some examples of initiatives...

With or without adherence to methodological standards (ISO 14001) and quality labels (Qualicongrès label), event managers must now take energy savings and waste minimisation into account. This includes limiting the amount of disposable products, selective sorting of waste, reduction or optimisation of lighting and the use of public transport to carry conference delegates locally.

Management tools should be developed whilst awaiting the renovation of existing conference facilities or the construction of new ones.

The future buildings will adhere to HEQ (high environmental quality) criteria, particularly through better insulation or internal energy production (solar panels), etc. These are all important issues for the future of business tourism, which is keen to reduce its environmental impact, just like any other kind of sustainable tourism...

  • Lille Métropole Europe Convention Bureau : the first "carbon report" www.meeting-lille.comLocated in the Euralille area, with its TGV station that has become a real European railway hub, Lille Grand Palais is leading the way with its "carbon free" certificate (a registered idea), or in other words a “carbon report" measured using a range of criteria (transport consumption is converted into "equivalent tons of CO2 emitted", etc.). The conference centre advises its event organiser clients about alternative ways of saving energy or "consumables" (paper documents, disposable cups, etc.).
  • Chamonix: ISO 14001 certification as a rewardwww.chamonix.comThe world capital of mountain activities has put in place a rigorous methodology that meets the criteria of ISO 14001, which adds an “environmental” aspect to the ISO 9001 quality standard.
  •  La Rochelle: an example for Ouest Congrèswww.ouest-congres.frwww.espacescongres-larochelle.comOuest Congrès brings together nine specialised centres across three regions (Brittany, Pays de Loire, Poitou-Charentes), from Saint-Malo to Nantes and from Brest to Le Mans. One of these towns of Western France, Angers, has applied to represent France at the Assises internationales des villes durables [International Sustainable Towns Conference] in 2010, and hopes to implement an HEQ policy for its conference centre by then. As for La Rochelle, a pioneer in urban ecology since the 1970s, it has continued its efforts through the structures composing its “Conference Area” (already a holder of the Qualicongrès label): use of “yellow bikes” rather than cars to reach the Espace Encan or the Forum Pertuis; use of the "Bus de mer" [“Sea Bus”] and the "Passeur" [Passer] (between the port and the Minimes area); provision of a “Pass'rochelais” [La Rochelle transport pass] for public transport. To “energise your event” – as the La Rochelle slogan goes – conference delegates are also invited to take part in the selective sorting of waste, while the offices of the "Espaces congrès" [Conference Centre] use recycled paper.
  •  A "techno-environment" hub in Savoie/Rhône-Alpeswww.rhonealpes-tourisme.frwww.savoie-technolac.comTechnolac is located in the heart of the Rhône-Alpes region, between Chambéry and the Lac du Bourget/Aix-les-Bains, and covers 20 hectares, including the new INES – National Solar Energy Institute. The site has been growing over the last 20 years and now hosts nearly 180 innovative companies involving 70 sectors and 700 researchers (with a total of 7,000 jobs). This "techno-environment” hub sits in a carefully landscaped setting and counts three conference halls (seating for between 120 and 1,000 people), all ISO 14001 certified. Partner companies are also developing an Ecolac club to promote a sustainable future.

Other useful sources of information:

  • French fairs, exhibitions and conferenceswww.foiresaloncongres.comThis association’s members include nearly 50 conference centres, 60 events companies, 70 exhibition centre operators and 150 organisers of trade fairs.
  • France Congrèswww.france-congres.orgThis association of conference towns numbers 52 active business tourism destinations. It has developed the "Qualicongrès" label with AFAQ (Quality Certification), whilst awaiting more formal guidelines regarding sustainable tourism. 
  • ANAE, the National Association of Specialised Event Organising Agencieswww.eco-evenement.orgwww.lepublicsysteme.com/site2006/accueil.aspThis professional federation discusses ethical issues and discusses a possible sustainable development charter. It also publishes an "eco-guide" to direct the work of its members, such as the "Le Public system" agency.

Two examples of specialised agencies:

- Cantal Séminaireswww.cantal-seminaire.com/developpement-durable.htm

- Alter Teamwww.alterteam.com/ecologie_soi.htm

These two receptive and organising structures offer a whole set of logistical services (“natural” leisure activities to accompany working sessions), as well as themed seminars about sustainable development. They are based in Cantal (in the heart of the Auvergne) and in Ariège (in the heart of the Pyrenees).  

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