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First Convention and Visitors Bureau Earns Gold ECO Standard
By Lindsay Vidrine
The Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau added their organization to the ranks of sustainability as the first visitors bureau to receive gold standard certification from Encouraging Conservation in Oklahoma (ECO), the state’s premiere sustainable travel program.
The bureau, located on Main Street in Norman’s historic downtown district, achieved the rating through implementing sustainable strategies, designating a “Green Manager” and tracking progress of their efforts.
Hardy Watkins, Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department executive director, said Norman’s leadership in sustainability initiatives sets the standard for other communities across the state.
“Norman’s bureau is the first in the state to make a commitment to sustainability through our ECO program,” Watkins said. “We hope their leadership will act as a bridge between the issue of conservation and other businesses and organizations.”
New sustainable practices at the bureau include a reduction in paper, energy use and recycled materials. The bureau also decreased the size of its visitor’s guide to Norman, which reaches approximately 100,000 people annually. The change in size saves money in postage and printing costs.
According to Jen Tregarthen, public relations and marketing manager at the Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau, the ECO certification recognizes a continuing commitment to conservation.
“Sustainability is a responsible and clean process,” Tregarthen said. “We appreciate our city and its beauty and want to do our part to reduce waste, reuse products and recycle materials.”
Since 2009, the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department and Department of Environmental Quality’s ECO Certification program has promoted, developed and encouraged sustainable tourism throughout the state. ECO Certification requires applicants to meet set criteria and be reviewed by a national certification board. A certification level of silver, gold or platinum can be awarded, based on the level of sustainable practices the applicant chooses to implement.
The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department (OTRD) is working to advance the exceptional quality of life in Oklahoma by preserving, maintaining, and promoting our natural assets and cultural richness. The department is the steward of the state park system and also promotes Oklahoma as a travel destination through many award-winning programs. To learn more about Oklahoma Tourism visit www.TravelOK.com or follow us at www.Facebook.com/TravelOK or www.Twitter.com/OklahomaTourism.
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Contact: Lindsay Vidrine