HI-USA came third place in the Hostelling International 2013 Sustainability Fund, winning £10,000 to put towards its multi-site third party eco-certification project.
HI-USA will be gaining eco-certification from the Sustainable Travel Education Programme (STEP) for 10 of their hostels: HI Austin, HI Boston, HI Houston, HI LA, HI Santa Monica, HI Monterey, HI Pigeon Point Lighthouse, HI Point Montara Lighthouse, HI Point Reyes, HI Sacramento and HI Washington DC. They plan to start with 10, but their goal is to eventually certify every hostel in their network so that guests can feel confident that they are taking a socially-responsible decision whenever they stay at a HI-USA hostel.
Bertus Templehoff, lead on the project at HI-USA explains the significance of gaining this funding, “Although HI-USA paid for a pilot for 15 of our hostels to obtain Sustainable Travel International’s STEP Bronze Certification, many of them did not have the resources to pay for an on-site assessment to obtain a higher level of certification. Many of the hostels are qualified for the higher certification and the funding we’re receiving from the HISF will now allow them to actually achieve it.”
“HI-USA has adopted a Strategic Plan for the next decade called Vision 2020. One element of this, is to enrich the hostelling experience, and one of the strategic initiatives to achieve this is through expansion of our sustainability efforts. We will provide a system for all hostels to become third party certified in meeting sustainability objectives. We will increase and improve our communications around our sustainability efforts with our guests, and the communities our hostels are located in. We will also seek to incorporate positive sustainable tourism practices in to experiential learning opportunities.”
Here at Hostelling International we hope to one day achieve a worldwide network of sustainable hostels – tourism will never be completely eco-friendly but competitions like the HI Sustainability Fund are an essential way of helping our hostels around the world to achieve this shared vision and leave as little impact on the environment as possible, while still retaining that unforgettable HI hostel experience which draws people back again and again.
HI-USA has recognised the importance of sustainable tourism since the 1930s. Bertus says, “Hostelling was founded on the ideal of sustainability. By making sure our facilities are as sustainable as possible, we’re paying it forward for future generations to enjoy.”