Latvian Ecolabel Green Certificate – an Example of Sustainable Rural Tourism in the Use of Ecosystem Services

Abstract

The national ecolabel of tourist accommodation establishments and rural tourism enterprises of Latvia – the ‘Green Certificate’ (hereinafter the ‘Green Certificate’) celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2019. Its creation in 1999 was initiated by the Latvian Rural Tourism Association ‘Baltic Country Holidays’, and it is currently one of the oldest European ecolabels still in operation. One of the most significant tourism and rural tourism resources in Latvia is the natural and cultural heritage, which is the basis for the development of rural tourism products. In this process, ecosystem services used in tourism products play a major role. One of the goals of the ‘Green Certificate’ is environment, nature and local society friendly and sustainable farming, which means both a careful use of natural resources and their inclusion in the tourism product development process. The aim of this study was to find out which ecosystem services were used and the ways they were used by rural tourism companies to create the nature protection, social and economic added value. According to the respondents, 1/3 of the revenue of the ‘Green Certificate’ companies is generated by the use of the ecosystem services. It is an argument for further research on the possibilities of the ecosystem services to be used more effectively in future in developing new rural tourism products.

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