Travelocity has launched an eco-friendly directory to help travelers determine green from ?green-washed.? In a recent Travelocity survey, 59 percent of respondents stated a ?green? rating would have at least some influence in their hotel selection in 2009. The green travel directory highlights properties and destinations already offering meaningful sustainability initiatives and is a trusted resource for consumers looking for eco-friendly options in 2009.

To help create longer-term criteria for sustainable tourism, Travelocity is also an active member in the Partnership for the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC Partnership).

Travelocity fully supports the development of the first-ever, widely-accepted sustainable tourism criteria, which offer a common framework to guide the emerging practice of sustainable tourism and to help businesses, consumers, governments and universities ensure that tourism helps, rather than harms, local communities and the environment. The GSTC Partnership will teach hotels and tour operators how to implement the criteria as well as qualify organizations as sustainable travel companies.

?Consumers deserve a cohesive certification process to help determine which travel suppliers adhere to true sustainable practices,? said Jeffrey Glueck, chief marketing officer at Travelocity. ?As we work toward this ultimate goal, we?ve also designed our own eco-friendly directory to serve as a quick reference guide to customers who want to avoid ?green-washing? now. Customers can be confident that if they find a hotel or destination on our green pages, we believe that company is legitimately working towards long-term sustainability.?

When the GSTC Partnership criteria are fully implemented, Travelocity plans to employ the ratings program on the site. Travelocity?s green directory, which can be accessed at http://www.travelocity.com/greentravel currently features more than 200 travel suppliers ranging from widely-known hotel chains such as Vail Resorts to off-the-beaten path options such as Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Many are 100 percent carbon neutral, serve locally-grown, organic foods in their restaurants, and some have partnerships with local conservation groups and encourage guests to make individual donations, which will be matched by the hotel.

Travelocity has developed a four-tier system based around the GSTC Partnership rating system, which helps determine if a business is truly making an effort at being ecologically and culturally responsible. The properties and destinations featured in the green directory are likely to be training their staff and management about conservation, supporting the local community, working for cultural as well as environmental preservation and actively reducing their carbon footprints. Each business may not be doing all of these things, but if they are taking action in most of these areas, they rated highly enough to earn a spot in Travelocity?s directory.

The site also features Rainforest Alliance and ENERGY STAR qualified properties. Rainforest Alliance is a leader in the GSTC Partnership effort, in concert with Travelocity, the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Foundation and the United Nations World Tourism Organization. Rainforest Alliance-recommended hotels are those certified by the Sustainable Tourism Certification Network of the Americas, which implements the established GSTC baseline criteria.

ENERGY STAR-rated properties are those that use 40 percent less energy than average hotels and emit 35 percent less carbon dioxide. In partnership with more than 3,000 private and public sector organizations, the government-backed program provides tools, guidance, and best practices to help improve the energy efficiency of buildings across America.

"Choosing energy efficient places to stay is another way everyone can help in the fight against global warming," Kathleen Hogan, director of EPA's Climate Protection Partnerships Division, said. "Hotels designated with EPA's ENERGY STAR contribute fewer greenhouse gas emissions than other hotels and make it easy for travelers to make a difference when they travel."

Said Leilani Latimer, Director, Sustainability Initiatives at Sabre: ?We are thrilled that this has been launched. In fact, after over 1 year of participating in the Global Partnership for sustainable tourism criteria with partners such as UNF, UNEP, UNWTO and the Rainforest Alliance, where the baseline criteria for sustainable tourism have been agreed upon globally and launched, we are still without an industry standard for rating or scoring hotels on their "green-ness". Our hope and desire is that the Hotel and Lodging Industry will recognize soon the dire need for such a standard, as consumers and business travelers alike are looking for more sustainable options, but are unable to cut through the clutter of the numerous certification programs that exist globally.?

?At Sabre we felt that we had to offer our consumers the information necessary to determine those properties that are adhering to, and exceeding the baseline criteria for sustainable tourism, but ultimately we are anxious to work with the industry leaders so that we can all help travelers distinguish the most sustainable choice for their travel through an user friendly score or rating, and help suppliers market and distribute their sustainable tourism options through all of our multiple channels of distribution.?

Related Link: Travelocity Green Travel Directory