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According to the ACM, Booking.com's Travel Sustainable program did not meet the requirements set by law and are detailed in the ACM's sustainability claims guideline.

After a careful evaluation by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), it turned out that Booking.com's Travel Sustainable program, previously known as the Sustainable Travel program, did not provide sufficient clarity about the actual sustainability performance of affiliated accommodations. As a result, in accordance with the ACM's recommendations, the travel giant has decided to take the program offline worldwide and remove all associated sustainability claims from its website.

The Travel Sustainable program was originally designed to recognize properties that made significant sustainability efforts, by providing them with a level designation ranging from 1 to 3+ and highlighting this with one or more green leaves on the Booking.com website. However, according to the ACM, the way in which these scores and symbols were presented could wrongly give consumers the impression that the trips and accommodations in question were completely sustainable.

Edwin van Houten, Director of Consumers at the ACM, emphasized the importance of accurate sustainability claims: “Consumers are increasingly aware of their impact on the climate and rely on sustainability claims when choosing accommodations. It is therefore crucial that these claims are clear, accurate and relevant.”

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After discussions with the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), travel website Booking.com has decided to take the so-called Travel Sustainable (formerly: Sustainable Travel) program offline.

The ACM evaluation revealed specific shortcomings of the Travel Sustainable program, such as the potentially misleading name and the lack of a clear explanation of the basis of the scores awarded. In addition, the program did not accurately reflect the sustainability efforts of non-affiliated properties and some measures, such as banning single-use plastics, were incorrectly presented as significant sustainability contributions, even though they are already legally required in the European Union.

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In response, Booking.com has committed to working on an improved system that will include third-party certifications to promote the sustainability of accommodations and help consumers make informed, sustainable choices. The ACM has expressed its satisfaction with this commitment and emphasizes its role in promoting a more sustainable economy by tackling misleading sustainability claims and supporting reliable sustainability initiatives.

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