Frequently Asked Questions
What is Travel Green Wisconsin?
Travel Green Wisconsin is a voluntary, affordable certification that reviews, certifies, and recognizes tourism businesses that have made a commitment to continuously improve their operations in order to reduce their environmental impact. This certification allows tourism businesses to evaluate their operations, set goals, and take specific actions towards environmental, social, and economic sustainability.
Becoming certified can improve your overall bottom line through utility savings.
Certification reaches an increasingly popular traveler demographic that includes travelers looking to stay, eat and visit places where “going green” is truly important.
AAA Wisconsin recognizes TGW certification and includes the TGW symbol in its guides.
There are numerous marketing benefits including: regular promotion in Department marketing initiatives, inclusion of the TGW symbol on directory listings, travel items at TravelWisconsin.com and in Department publications, online advertising, and promotion of the program through the Secretary’s presentations.
Travel Green Wisconsin is designed to give the state and hospitality business participants a marketing edge, promote smart business practices, reduce costs and energy consumption, educate travelers and employees, preserve our resources, support the Wisconsin brand, and protect the beauty and vitality of Wisconsin’s landscape.
The peace of mind and satisfaction that you are doing the right thing by protecting and preserving Wisconsin’s natural resources.
How do participants become Travel Green Wisconsin certified?
To be certified as a Travel Green Wisconsin business, you can complete the online application form.
To earn certification, applicants need to commit to enough sustainable business practices found within the TGW application, and by sharing their innovative practices, to accumulate a minimum of 35 points. We also strongly encourage applicants supply a Baseline Environmental Performance Assessment. The baseline collects information about the amount of energy, water, and waste the business consumed during the last calendar year so they can measure that against future energy/water/waste consumption. Categories for TGW application are as follows:
- Communication and Education (Customers, Employees, Public)
- Waste Reduction, Reuse, and Recycling
- Energy Efficiency, Conservation, and Management
- Water Conservation and Wastewater Management
- Air Quality
- Wildlife and Landscape Conservation and Management
- Local Community Benefits
To qualify for certification, each applicant must earn a minimum of 35 points from the Application. The applicant will need to meet the minimum point requirements in Section A, Communication & Education (7 points). The remaining 30 points can be earned from any combination of categories.
To receive points, the business can check the examples listed in each category that they meet. They are also encouraged to take advantage of sharing an innovative best practice that is not listed. By checking the box, the business is either stating that they have already implemented the practice or are making a commitment to implement it. Applicants are encouraged to go above and beyond the minimum point total in an effort to make their business more efficient and sustainable. After the application is completed, the applicant should make a copy for their own use and mail/scan or email the original along with the certification fee to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, attn: Travel Green Wisconsin.
Applications will be reviewed on first come first served basis. Applicants will be notified about their certification status within 5 weeks depending on completeness and when the Department receives the application. Certified businesses receive a Travel Green Wisconsin window cling, signage and full use of the electronic logo to use in promotional materials and web site listings. Certification is valid for a two-year period from the date of issuance.
Are there any required practices to earn certification?
To create a program comprehensive enough to be relevant across the very diverse tourism industry, we decided to allow participants to be “ecopreneurial” and adopt the practices that make the most sense for their operation. The only requirement, with regard to the TGW application, is that participants earn 7 or more points in the “Communication and Education” category. This ensures participants will build upon the success of the program by communicating to their guests, employees, and the general public about the sustainable practices and efforts their operation has made a commitment to.
Are certified businesses required to renew certification?
Yes, a renewal is required every two years. Memberships are renewed every other year. The Department of Tourism will send an invoice at the beginning of each fiscal year, July 1. If memberships aren’t renewed, all information related to Travel Green Wisconsin™ and your business, will be removed from TGW marketing initiatives.
To renew, we will ask you to also update the application with any changes from the previous year. If memberships aren’t renewed, all information related to Travel Green Wisconsin™ and your business, will be removed from TGW marketing initiatives.
Can a business be removed from the program?
Travel Green Wisconsin is a voluntary program. It is the responsibility of the business to assure all program requirements are met. In order to monitor compliance, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism will welcome feedback and customer comments. In addition, certification documents will be posted on the Travel Wisconsin website. If deficiencies are reported, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism will offer follow-up assistance to correct them. Consistent failure to correct deficiencies will result in removal from the program. If a business is unable or unwilling to meet the responsibilities and program requirements, all Travel Green Wisconsin promotional materials must be returned to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and the business will refrain from further Identification with Travel Green Wisconsin through name or use of the Travel Green Wisconsin logo.
How can consumptive-heavy businesses like water parks possibly get certified?
Travel in Wisconsin encompasses an amazing array of activities and destinations, literally everything from art museums to water parks to wineries to zoos. As such, Travel Green Wisconsin is intended to be as broad in scope as possible. We are looking not only at where a business or organization is – in terms of its carbon footprint and other environmental factors – but also where it is going. In other words, are they putting systems in place to ensure continued environmental improvement? Are they educating their customers and vendors about sustainability? We also look at how they compare to other organizations in their competitive set. For example, we’re not going to compare a water park to a bed and breakfast; we’re going to look at a water park compared to another water park. We believe the larger hospitality businesses can truly make a positive impact on their environmental footprint by striving for continual improvement in the program. Small steps towards sustainability can make a big difference when viewed cumulatively to ensure the tourism industry is doing its part.