The destination of Vail, Colorado has been named a “sustainable destination” by Sustainable Travel International, making it the first resort in the US and the first mountain resort in the world to earn this certification. The town of Vail, Vail Resorts, Walking Mountains Science Center, the US Forest Service, and other private and public agencies and groups all played a significant roll in this achievement. The current certification lasts for 3 years and requires annual updates and follow-up work.
Kim Langmaid, co-founder and current vice president of Walking Mountains, and Vail Town Council member, stated that the process to get to the point where the sustainability certification was even in the future took years, and the certification process another two. The process began with Walking Mountains’ “Actively Green” program. Launched in 2013, the program has trained around 200 businesses in sustainability practices. 57 of these businesses are certified as sustainable.
The program, along with town initiatives, the disposable bag ban, recycling mandates, and efforts to improve water quality in Gore Creek, as well as a focus on housing, transportation, and wildlife preservation led the way for the resort, who followed suit in it’s sustainability efforts. After an audit by Green Destinations last year, the resort was granted a conditional certification in December.
Sustainable Travel International, along with local partners, used existing sustainability guidelines and local ideas to create the “Mountain IDEAL” standard. Vail is the first Mountain IDEAL destination, and Langmaid believes that this will pave the way for other resorts to join the effort. Travelers pay attention to a resort’s sustainability practices and how they deal with issues, and this certification shows them that the resort is doing something meaningful. It will ultimately attract more visitors while helping the environment.