Booking.com accused over misleading sustainability ratings

Booking.com

[Credit: Booking.com]

Netherlands: OTA Booking.com is ending its Travel Sustainable program and will replace it with the option to filter for properties with a third-party certification.

Booking.com removed the Travel Sustainable badge following pressure from the Dutch competition regulator, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets [ACM]. The ACM called the Travel Sustainable programme’s scoring system as “misleading”, adding that it may “result in a distorted impression of the actual sustainability efforts of accommodations”.

Additionally, the ACM noted that not all of the measures listed with the accommodations could be qualified as measures producing “significant sustainability benefits”, such as eliminating single-use plastic in a hotel, which is already prohibited in the European Union [EU].

Edwin van Houten, director of the ACM’s consumer department, said: “It’s important that companies use clear, correct and relevant sustainability claims. Consumers are more and more aware of the impact that they themselves have on the climate, including when travelling. That is why, when choosing accommodations, consumers must be able to understand and rely on the sustainability claims that are used.”

Announcing the news on its website last week, Booking.com said that it was removing the Travel Sustainable name and levels to “help highlight the significance of third-party certifications”, marking a shift to “ensure consistency and clarity to help make it easier for travellers to make informed choices that are more sustainable”.

Sustainable practices can still be visible to guests on the property pages.

Booking.com created the Travel Sustainable programme three years ago to “educate and guide” users on sustainability and the impact they can have. Last year, the online travel agency, which has more than 28 million accommodation listings around the world, said that more than 500,000 accommodations on its platform had a ‘Travel Sustainable’ badge on them.

In a company statement, Booking.com said: “Booking.com will now introduce a label to acknowledge when a property has achieved a third-party sustainability certification coupled with the ability to filter searches accordingly. To date, over 16,500 properties have a third-party sustainability certification displayed on the platform.

“Moving forward, the Travel Sustainable name, logo and levels will no longer be displayed,” it added.

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