Attendees of the 2015 GSTC AGM

September 17th, 2015 – The GSTC 2015 Annual General Meeting was held September 10-13 in Huangshan, China. Participants from fourteen countries attended the event hosted by GSTC and the Huangshan Administrative Committee (HSAC) which manages the Mount Huangshan World Heritage site.

The three-day dynamic event offered workshops covering topics such as sustainable destination trends and mainstreaming sustainability, and launched the development process of a new set of GSTC Criteria designed as tools for governments at all levels.

GSTC Chair Luigi Cabrini remarked, “This year’s AGM was full of synergy, high participation and endorsed the new strategic directions for the future of GSTC.”

Attendees stayed in Huangshan city at the elegant Crowne Plaza Huangshan Yucheng Hotel, an IHG affiliate hotel. Attendees of the AGM included GSTC members including eight board members, plus other sustainable tourism experts from organizations such as, Earthcheck, Gyeonggi Tourism Organization, Better Tourism Africa, National Geographic, Botswana Tourism Organization and many more.

From left to right: Executive Director, HSAC Rotating Chairman, CMTA Mr. Huang Linmu; Chair GSTC Mr. Luigi Cabrini; CEO GSTC Mr. Randy Durband.

The GSTC extends its deep appreciation to hosts, Mt. Huangshan Administrative Committee (HSAC) for displaying gracious hospitality and for advancing the work of GSTC and use of the GSTC Criteria in China. Huangshan is an important site in the culture of the Chinese nation, and that HSAC and city leaders take seriously their role in sustainable leadership in Chinese tourism.

The AGM featured a keynote address on sustainable destinations from Jonathan Tourtellot of National Geographic, and workshops and panel discussions from industry and government leaders, updates on GSTC’s activities, a presentation on IHG’s Green Engage Program and the management of the IHG Crowne Plaza Yucheng Huanshan where the meeting was held, a visit to the protected area/World Heritage site, and extensive networking among participants. GSTC CEO Randy Durband presented on GSTC’s mission, current activities, and future plans; and he served as the meeting master of ceremonies.

Program Highlights:

  • Opening remarks by GSTC Board Chair Luigi Cabrini and Huangshan City Vice-Mayor Mr. Zhou Tian Wei
  • GSTC Current and Future priorities presented by CEO Randy Durband
  • Sustainable Destination Management panel discussion led by Jonathan Tourtellot of National Geographic and GSTC’s Destination Stewardship Working Group; with panelists Huang Linmu, Executive Director HSAC and GSTC Board Member; Andreas Mueseler, DER Turistik and GSTC Board Member; and Marco Sepulveda,  Earthcheck
  • Consultation Workshop on the development of a new set of GSTC Criteria designed for national and provincial standards, “GSTC Country” – led by GSTC Technical Director Guy Chester
  • Workshop on China Mountain Tourism sustainable management
  • Workshop on expanding the application of GSTC Criteria, a discussion led by Kelly Bricker, University of Utah and Vice-Chair of GSTC
  • Presentation on IHG Hotel Group’s “Green Engage” program, which included the host Crowne Plaza Yucheng Huangshan Hotel
  • Workshop on “Mainstreaming Sustainability”, examining the challenges and opportunities for sales and marketing of sustainable travel product; Moderated by GSTC CEO Randy Durband with panelists Heidi van der Watt, Better Tourism Africa and GSTC Board Member; Hugh Kim of Gyeonngi Tourism Organization (Gyeonngi Province, South Korea)