Responsible Tourism Ltd. (trading as Greenbox) is an innovative regional tourism development initiative covering the counties of Leitrim, Fermanagh, parts of North and East Sligo, South Donegal and West Cavan and Monaghan.
The aims and objectives of the Greenbox is to develop Ireland’s first integrated eco-tourism destination, focusing on the development of a range of sustainable niche tourism products utilising the natural and cultural resources of its area and developing these in a way that respects the natural environment, involves local communities and, above all, is sustainable in environmental and economic terms.
The Greenbox project has become the role model in Ireland for eco-tourism, sustainable tourism and rural tourism development. When the project began in 2002 there were no coherent sustainable tourism or eco-tourism policies existing on the island of Ireland. Using a multi-stakeholder approach (bringing tourism agencies, business enterprise agencies, local authorities, communities, environmental groups and the private sector together), Greenbox has successfully delivered a number of innovative eco-tourism projects and initiatives including the following:
The Greenbox’s Eco-tourism Certification Scheme has been developed using a bottom-up approach so that it reflects the uniqueness of the region, yet respects the rigour and ethos of other eco-tourism standards and organisations at international level.
Greenbox was the first organisation in Ireland to actively support the eco-labelling process for tourist accommodation.
The needs of the private sector have been very much to the fore in all aspects of the project to date, with actions designed to suit operators time requirements, budget and experience.
The approach whereby multiple stakeholders have been brought together has resulted in many key lessons having being learned along the way and innovative solutions created to speed development.
Greenbox has placed a high value on cooperation with third level institutions in the region.
The organisations capital development support programme for sustainable and eco-tourism operators is the first of its kind on the island of Ireland.
The marketing strategy is web-based and in February 2008 the Greenbox website became an authority website for eco-tourism.
The success of Greenbox has been recognised in a number of recent awards including:
The Company has had Global Recognition in past 2 years.
Highly Commended Responsible Tourism Award December 06 World Travel Market, commended by NITB – People Category May 07
Finalist Destination Category –Tourism for Tomorrow – World Travel Market June 07
Gerry has a background working in major community-based urban regeneration programmes in outer Glasgow. On his return to Northern Ireland in 1996 Gerry has been involved in overseeing major rural regeneration programmes covering the areas of tourism development and environmental management. Gerry has spent the last five years implementing a sustainable development plan for Lough Neagh.Rams Island Case Study: Local Sustainable Development
Rams Island is a strong example of local sustainable development in action. It involves local people taking on the responsibilities of leasing, restoring and managing the biggest island on Lough Neagh. The work has been undertaken by representatives of the River Bann and Lough Neagh Association and a large proportion of the investment in the Island has come from the Lough Neagh Partnership. It’s a great story to tell, warts and all, and an opportunity to convey the unique way in which the local group approached the restoration of the Island and the huge amount of personal sacrifice the volunteers have made. The island has been transformed slowly and organically and its success is an argument against a strictly planned and rigid approach to local sustainable development. It is also important to look to the future and identify how small local projects like this are possibly under threat, as the big tourism and environmental bodies in Northern Ireland become more interested in big, uniform and strategically significant projects and less interested in the local, diverse, and small.
Appendix B: seminar programme
Appendix C: Seminar participants and contact details