sml clean IMGL4878October 2016, Suwon, Republic of Korea – The Global Sustainable Tourism Conference 2016 in Suwon, Republic of Korea, took place on 5-8 October 2016, with 400 participants coming from more than 20 countries in Asia-Pacific, Europe, Africa, and North America. This includes many GSTC members and the GSTC Board members.

The conference brought direct engagement with global thought-leaders to strengthen the global sustainable tourism movement while clarifying GSTC’s unique role as an Accreditation Body for standards of sustainable tourism.

The opening ceremony was greeted by the Governor of Gyeonggi Province, Mr. Nam Kyung-Pil, and Mayor of Suwon City, Mr. Yeom Tae-Young, as well as greetings by ASEAN-Korea Centre Secretary-General, Ambassador Kim Young-Sun, and GSTC Chair Mr. Luigi Cabrini. Following opening remarks were given by UNWTO Director of Sustainable Development of Tourism, Dr. Dirk Glaesser who said: “When we speak about promoting sustainability… certification plays a very important role.”

sml IMGL3572At the opening ceremony, GSTC officially announced the recognition of the Sustainable City Tourism Standards for Korea, created by Suwon City. These standards will first be applied to Suwon’s policies and practices, after which Suwon will make them available to other cities within the Republic of Korea. Read more here.

GSTC CEO Mr. Randy Durband gave an overview of the GSTC and the four themes of the conference: Marketing Sustainable Tourism, Sustainable MICE, Sustainable City Tourism, and Cultural Tourism brought expert speakers and attentive and engaging participants.

Beginning with the Marketing Sustainable Tourism theme, participants learned from University of Surrey Professor Dr. Xavier Font how to mainstream and communicating sustainable tourism. TUI Group Sustainability Director Mrs. Jane Ashton shared how TUI Group communicates sustainability to its 20 million customers worldwide.

WWF Travel, Tourism and Conservation Director Mr. Jim Sano, explained the partnership between WWF and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCL) to make RCL’s supply chain more sustainable. This includes a formal endorsement by RCL of the GSTC framework and a commitment to require all suppliers of their land tour operations gain certification by a GSTC Approved or Accredited Certifying Body by the end of 2019. Read more here.

The Sustainable MICE & City Tourism theme was keynoted and moderated by MCI Regional Sustainability Director Mr. Roger Simons, exploring the characteristics of sustainable MICE destinations and key trends of Sustainable MICE cities.

Participants also heard from high level speakers and thought leaders including André Russ, Vice President Sales – EarthCheck; Hannah Jamieson, General Manager of External Relations – Business Events Sydney; Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director – Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office; Li Tienen, General Manager – CSCA; Lv Yuzhen, Director of Tourism Management Office – Mt. Huangshan Administrative Committee; Muhamad Daud, Culture and Tourism Unit Head – ASEAN-Korea Centre; Nichapa Yoswee, Director of MICE Capabilities Development -TCEB; Noor Ahmad Hamid, Regional Director APAC – ICCA; Rod Hillman, CEO – Ecotourism Australia; Willem Niemeijer, CEO – Yaana Ventures; and many more.

The learning, networking, and inspiration gained from the discussions, motivated participants to move sustainability forward. “The conference exceeded my expectations.” says Noor Ahmad Hamid, Regional Director APAC, International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), “Well done GSTC, Gyeonggi Tourism Organization and those involved. On behalf of ICCA, we are more than happy to be part of this inaugural conference and happy to be involved again in the future.”

CO2NS 0092 2 16 12 1 C 2016 GSTC European Regional Meeting EVENTThe event’s carbon footprint was offset by the carbon offsetting sponsor Green Evolution SA, to become a ‘carbon neutral event’ by the scheme CO2 NEUTRAL SEAL. During the event usage of paper and plastic was reduced to a minimum degree.

Presentations from the speakers are available here.

Photos from the event can be found on Google Photos: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Field Trip, Post-conference Tours

or on Facebook: Oct 5th, Oct 6th, Oct 7th, Farewell Dinner, Field Trip, Post-conference Tours.

The Global Sustainable Tourism Conference 2016 was hosted by Gyeonggi Province and Suwon City, with Gyeonggi Tourism Organization as the organizer.

Look for announcements of the location and dates of GSTC Events in 2017.

sml clean IMGL4878

About the GSTC:

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is a global initiative dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism efforts around the world. The GSTC works to expand understanding of and access to sustainable tourism practices; helps identify and generate markets for sustainable tourism; and educates about and advocates for a set of universal principles, as defined by the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria. The Criteria, a set of voluntary principles that provide a framework for the sustainability of tourism businesses across the globe, is the cornerstone of our initiative. For more information, visit

Media Contact: