Many hotels and products throughout Europe already bear the ECARF “allergy-friendly” seal, but on May 8, Baabe, on the tiny island of Rügen in the German state of Mecklenberg-Vorpommern, will boast an entire community of compliant offerings.
“Most of the town's residents thought it was a good idea because the demand was already there due to our special climate,” Uta Donner, the town's marketing director, told The Local on Monday.
While some business owners in the 900-resident seaside resort were resistant to making allergy-friendly changes, particularly when it came to banning smoking, Donner said the ECARF certification is just the beginning.
“Participation among town business owners is voluntary, and we're taking it step by step,” she said.
Baabe has long been a health treatment resort destination and lies in a flat bay with little wind and a mild, low-pollen climate thought to be therapeutic to people with allergies and other environmental sensitivities.
Donner said that so far 180 beds in rental homes, hotels and pensions, furnished with special mite-free mattress covers, have been certified allergy-friendly by ECARF. Restaurants, supermarkets and bakeries will also take part, selling allergy-sensitive products like gluten-free bread and milk-free ice cream. Even some hair salons will sell allergy-sensitive products and services.
Pollen-rich trees will no longer be planted in the town, and a special pollen-catching net is under construction so scientists can analyze the town's pollen quantities, German news agency DDP reports.
Other amenities for the über-sensitive include specific food allergy provisions, special vacuum cleaners to reduce dust, and nickel-free cooking implements.
About one-third of Germans suffer from allergies, and experts expect numbers to rise due to climate change factors.
A team of allergologists from the Allergy Centre at Berlin's Charité research hospital visited Baabe and determined that the town met all criteria for the certification.