New tourism scheme encourages greener visits

Visitors to the Winchester district who want to do their bit for the environment are now able to choose a place to stay by its green credentials, thanks to a new scheme being rolled out by Winchester City Council’s tourism team.

The Green Leaf Tourism Scheme, which was originally developed by New Forest District Council, has been imported and adapted for use in the Winchester district.   Based on a self-assessment checklist, it asks those who run hotels, B&Bs and self-catering accommodation to rate their level of commitment to greener ways of doing business.  The checklist covers areas such as encouraging car-free tourism, the use of local produce, energy efficiency and recycling and the way businesses make guests aware of their environmental objectives. Most importantly, however, it encourages owners to sign up for free training – supported by Tourism South East, the regional tourism agency - to help them develop a green action plan for their business.

Tourist information centre manager Alison Woods says of the scheme:

“It’s a simple scheme, and that’s really the beauty of it.  But it is also a stepping stone to bigger projects. With the help of the Green Leaf scheme, we think we can work with the tourism industry to raise our game over time to everyone’s advantage.”

The scheme is promoted in the newly published 2008 Winchester Visitor Guide, as well as on the tourism website, under the green leaf symbol so that visitors can easily pick out the properties which are most sympathetic to the environment. The guide, which is sent out to enquirers far and wide, also features a list of ten easy ways in which visitors can reduce the environmental impact of their stay in the Winchester district.

Cllr George Beckett, leader of Winchester City Council and portfolio holder for economy and tourism, said:

“Green business makes sound sense financially, as well as being good for the environment. Not only does it help accommodation owners to reduce their annual fuel bills, but it also ensures that their business is well placed to appeal to the increasingly ‘green savvy’ customer. And if all this helps to keep the Winchester district special for future generations, then so much the better.“

The Green Leaf Tourism scheme fits in with Winchester City Council’s overall Climate Change plan which received Cabinet approval last year. As a result of the plan, tackling Climate Change is now at the heart of the City Council’s work. For more information about Winchester City Council's Climate Change plan, please click here.

The Winchester Visitor Guide is available free of charge from Winchester Tourist Information Centre. Telephone 01962 840 500, email or go to to request a copy.