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Belfast’s hotels go green in major sustainability shift

Record 75 percent of Belfast’s hotel bedrooms now meet sustainability standards with Green Tourism accreditation

Thursday 21st September 2023: Following a groundbreaking partnership led by Visit Belfast, Belfast City Council and Green Tourism in 2021, hoteliers across Belfast are ramping up their green credentials at a record rate. Seventy five percent of the city region’s 4,800 hotel rooms are now officially accredited by Green Tourism, the global body which promotes sustainable and environmental standards across the sector.

More than 20 leading hotels, groups and brands, including Hastings Hotels, The Merchant Hotel, Bullitt Hotel, Andras House House Group, Titanic Hotel Belfast, AC Hotel Belfast, Clayton Hotel, The Maldron Belfast City Centre, The Fitzwilliam Hotel, Hilton Belfast, the Leonardo Hotel, Malmaison Hotel, The Harrison, Radisson Blu and Ramada by Wyndham have all secured a Green Tourism award in a drive to support Belfast’s sustainable tourism mission.

The Green Tourism Standard – one of the largest and most established sustainable certification programmes in the world – recognises an organisation that works responsibly, ethically and sustainably, contributes to their community, is reducing their impact on the environment and aims to be accessible and inclusive to all visitors and staff.

Now, 75 percent, or around 3,570 of all Belfast hotel bedrooms, are sustainability certified.

To mark the milestone achievement, Visit Belfast, the city’s dedicated destination marketing and management organisation, in partnership with Green Tourism and the Global Destination Management Movement (GDSM), has launched a sustainability whitepaper, acting as a blueprint to support the entire tourism industry’s efforts to tackle the climate change challenge, drive sustainability and embrace net zero.

Belfast has already made great strides in embracing sustainability and transiting to a zero carbon and circular tourism and hospitality sector. In 2022, it was ranked the Top 10 Most Sustainable Destinations in the annual GDS Index – a world-leading sustainability benchmarking and performance improvement programme for destinations and their visitor economies. Climbing eleven places since 2021 to take the eighth spot, places Belfast as the most sustainable destination in the Island of Ireland.

Belfast City Council declared a climate change emergency in October 2019 and unveiled the city’s first Climate Plan in 2020 with Visit Belfast leading out on the ‘sustainable tourism’ transformation programme.

Councillor Róis-Máire Donnelly, Chair of Belfast City Council’s Climate and City Resilience Committee, said:

“We know there’s significant work ahead for us as a city to become truly sustainable but being rated in the Top 10 Global Destinations Sustainability Index is very encouraging – and that’s thanks to the efforts of Visit Belfast and our city’s tourism meetings industry.

We’re serious about making sustainable changes. The Net Zero Carbon Roadmap was developed by the Belfast Climate Commission and the council adopted those carbon targets in 2022. A Local Area Energy Plan is now being developed, and The Belfast Agenda, currently out for consultation, also sets out a bold plan to tackle climate change. Collective design, delivery and partnership is the way forward.”

Launching the white paper, Sustainable tourism for cities and stakeholders, and the Belfast model for success, which is co-authored by Green Tourism, Visit Belfast and the GDS Movement, Scott Maclean, Green Tourism’s managing director said:

“We see this white paper as a pathway for others to instigate changes and improvements that put sustainability at the heart of their tourism sector and hope it can be seen as a blueprint for excellence for all forward-thinking destinations. Green Tourism is enormously proud to have played a part in Belfast’s transition alongside all our partners and, of course, all the newly accredited Green Tourism member businesses.”

Celebrating the hotel sector’s performance and the launch of the whitepaper, Rachael McGuickin, Director of Business Development, Sustainability and Transformation at Visit Belfast, said:

“The commitment of Belfast’s tourism and hospitality sector to support our ambitious sustainability journey is nothing short of remarkable. With our valued partners on board, we are not only improving our ability to compete globally for visitors and events, but we are also enabling Belfast to become a more sustainable place to visit, meet and live in.”

For more information on Green Tourism and to view the whitepaper sustainable tourism for cities and stakeholders, and the Belfast model for success, please visit: