The Green Network was born from a desire by local businesses to work together to collaborate and share information in order to make Ards and North Down a sustainable destination.
In 2019 ANDBC put 25 local businesses through a green programme. This programme offered businesses the opportunity to avail of a green health check. This check highlighted what each business was doing well but also what could be improved in terms of being more sustainable. Businesses were also given a PDF of their green story. For the first time many of the businesses used this information to talk about how they were striving to be sustainable and what that would mean for visitors.
In 2020 several of the businesses approached ANDBC to express interest in doing more. After some research into what other destinations were doing, and working with Tourism Northern Ireland in regard to their regenerative tourism programme, ANDBC decided to proceed with a project to create a Green Network.
An Expression of Interest was made public and potential members had to show how they met particular sustainable criteria as a key part of the research showed that membership must be authentic.
When the group was formed it was very much led by the members in order to get to the grassroots of what they wanted to achieve for their collective businesses. The following Action Plan was agreed.
The goal is for AND tourism businesses to position themselves at the forefront of green and sustainable practices leading to the achievement of a green destination status. This will be achieved via collaboration to create sustainable experiences, sharing best practice with each other and a marketing plan to talk about the green destination.
Ensure that the commitment is authentic. Research suggested that many businesses decided to become accredited in terms of their sustainability. However it was also suggested that when this was done to simply receive a certificate it was picked up by the visitor. Businesses must be completely committed to sustainability.
Monitoring of the success of this project will be carried out in March 2022 once the network has been established but experiences have brought business to many local businesses during a very difficult financial period so it is hoped that this project will be successful once fully measured.
Level of satisfaction of these experiences via post activity online research.
Number of people availing of token programme.
Audit of businesses after marketing campaigns.
Awareness of ANDBC as a green destination (survey).