PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Destination stewardship is a process by which local communities, governmental agencies, NGOs, and the tourism industry take a multi-stakeholder approach to maintaining the cultural, environmental, economic, and aesthetic integrity of their country, region, or town. In other words, to ensure that the destination retains and enhances the distinctive attributes that makes it attractive to beneficial tourism.
To promote sustainable tourism at a destination level, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) has established the GSTC Criteria for Destinations. The development of these criteria has followed a similar path as the original GSTC Criteria for Hotels and Tour Operators. The Destinations Working Group developed a set of draft criteria based on input from destination experts around the globe. These draft criteria were submitted to the GSTC International Standards Working Group for review and input.
The GSTC Criteria for Destinations is available here for public review until June 2, 2012. All comments will be reviewed and modifications will be made to improve the draft criteria in line with ISEAL guidelines. The draft criteria will be applied and tested in up to 10 destinations over the next year. Results from the GSTC Early Adopter Program (see below) will be incorporated into the final version of the criteria.
The Early Adopters Program is designed to invite destinations to support and sponsor the research and development of the GSTC Destination Criteria. GSTC will conduct a launch of the Destination Criteria and indicators in at least 5 destination types and in up to 10 destinations to ensure they are applied diversely.
We invite destinations that wish to lead the efforts in promoting sustainability, to apply to the Early Adopters Program. All destination types will be considered. The early adopters will be widely recognized and their findings will help shape the final set of criteria.
This pilot phase will allow the testing of the criteria in selected destinations; it will complement information collected during the destinations criteria open public consultation. Participation in the program does not confer a formal recognition of alignment with the criteria at this stage; it will however enable participating destinations to apply for recognition without cost, once the process is established.
The GSTC will appoint a sustainable tourism consultant to conduct associated activities of the program. The appointed consultant will coordinate with the Early Adopter to collect relevant preliminary information, conduct an on-site verification exercise in the destination and present the outcomes of the pilot exercise. Upon execution of this Agreement, a timeline will be established and the Early Adopter will receive specific information on how the on-site validation will be carried out.
· Recognition through GSTC website, social media and a press release announcing the support to the criteria development process of participating destinations.
· Logo inclusion in two issues of GSTC newsletter
· Membership for one year for two people in the GSTC
· Speaking opportunity at the annual meeting to present the finding of its destination activities related to the implementation of the GSTC destination sustainable tourism criteria
· Logo recognition at GSTC annual event
· Three invitations to GSTC annual event
· Logo of the organization will be displayed during the process on website under a destination sponsor section below sponsorships
· At least one article in the GSTC newsletter on each participating destination
· At least one blog story on each participating destination, based on the evaluation process
· Mention in publication about sustainable destinations that GSTC intends to compile and publish at the end of the process
· Early adoption of baseline sustainable tourism criteria and indicators affords improved destination management and decision-making in terms of evaluating progress in the sustainable development of tourism and identifying related limits and opportunities
· Findings will inform the GSTC destination criteria and indicator development process.
· Early Adopters will be invited to provide active feedback in the process of developing the destinations criteria
· Improved preparedness for destination-level certification including access to the draft baseline criteria and indicators
· Creates a competitive advantage given the increasing number of private sector companies who are looking for destinations to demonstrate their leadership in sustainability
The Destinations group is comprised of a diverse cross-section of public- and private sector sustainability leaders from around the world. It works on developing capacity-building tools aimed at meeting destination sustainability criteria. These tools aim to enable destinations to implement real change by using community engagement, systems for certifying sustainable operations, tools and training methodologies, incentives, and a comprehensive action plan to guide a collaborative effort for creating a destination-stewardship framework.
Members of the working group include:
Visit the Destinations forum (members only) to engage in dialog, ask questions of the working group or post comments on the topic of sustainable destinations.
“We feel that we have an obligation to our industry and our world to show the way through Sustainable Hospitality by ensuring that the legacy of our property remains strong in the years to come.”
Hervé Houdré, regional director of operations for InterContinental New York.