GwaiiHaanasThe Global Sustainable Tourism Council celebrates the use of the GSTC Criteria in the selection process of The National Geographic Society’s World Legacy Awards. The National Geographic Society recently revealed the 15 finalists of the World Legacy Awards, a remarkable co-initiative in partnership with ITB Berlin, to feature the leading industry organizations and destinations ranging from historic monuments to green lodges and from small remote islands to entire countries that are driving sustainable development within the travel and tourism industry.

The National Geographic Society received over 150 nominations representing 56 countries and six continents. Finalists in five award categories were selected by an international team of 18 judges who are experts in sustainable travel. The winners will be announced at a gala at the World Legacy Awards Ceremony in March 2015 at ITB Berlin.

“The GSTC Criteria have been built on decades of prior work and experience around the world, and they take into account the numerous guidelines and standards for sustainable tourism from every continent. It is a milestone achievement for the GSTC community to learn that such a panel of sustainable tourism experts are basing their judging approach on the GSTC Criteria”, commented GSTC CEO Randy Durband. 

The winners and finalists will also be featured in National Geographic Traveler and other media. According to National Geographic, the five categories are:

Earth Changers: Recognizing cutting-edge leadership in environmentally friendly business practices and green technology, from renewable energy and water conservation to zero-waste systems and carbon-emission reduction.

Sense of Place: Recognizing excellence in enhancing sense of place and authenticity, including support for the protection of historical monuments, archaeological sites, cultural events, indigenous heritage and artistic traditions.

Conserving the Natural World: Recognizing outstanding support for the preservation of nature, restoring natural habitat and protecting rare and endangered species, whether on land or in the oceans.

Engaging Communities: Recognizing direct and tangible economic and social benefits that improve local livelihoods, including training and capacity building, fair wages and benefits, community development, health care and education.

Destination Leadership: Recognizing destination leadership, including cities, provinces, states, countries and regions that are demonstrating environmental best practices, protection of cultural and natural heritage, benefits to local communities and educating travelers on the principles of sustainability.

These categories can be used in a number of ways: guidelines for destination managers, a list that helps travelers to determine which destinations are the most sustainable, and an educational tool for the hospitality and travel industry.

To learn more about the World Legacy Awards please visit: 

Photo credit: Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, finalist “Sense of Place” category