From November 20th thru 21st the Responsible Tourism Institute (ITR) hosted the “GSTC Destinations Community, Barcelona Summit” in Barcelona, Spain, a Biosphere World Class Destination. The 2-day summit created a space where committed destinations could further reinforce the applications of the environmental, social, cultural, and economic principles at the core of the GSTC Criteria. Attendance was open to sustainable tourism certified destinations, destinations currently in the process of certification, as well as destinations that formally expressed their interest in starting the process.

The summit was enhanced by a large list of speakers and attendees representing destinations and organizations from Europe, Asia, Latin America, and North America. Key leaders in the sustainable tourism community that presented include: Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias; GSTC Chair of the Board Luigi Cabrini; GSTC CEO Randy Durband; GSTC Board Member Jane Ashton; and ITR President, Dr. Tomas Azcarate. Destination-level best practices, ideas, and concepts were exchanged and discussed. This included topics such as as the consumer demand for sustainability, relationships between public bodies that manage the destination and the business sector, applying the GSTC Destination Criteria and more topics that can be found here.

Several participants of the GSTC Early Adopter Program presented on their experiences of applying the GSTC Destination Criteria, as well as Biosphere Responsible Tourism certified destinations like Barcelona, La Palma, Gijón and Val D’Aran. The GSTC Early Adopter Program involved the participation of 14 destinations from 2012 to early 2014 that tested the GSTC Destination Criteria in an effort to advance sustainability practices. Each Early Adopter underwent a baseline destination sustainability assessment applying the Criteria, and also provided their feedback on the Criteria. The collective input was critical to ensuring that the GSTC Criteria for Destinations is appropriate and applicable as the global performance standard for destination sustainability. Early Adopters that presented at the summit: Okavango Delta, Botswana; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; St. Kitts and Nevis, Caribbean; Riviera Maya, Mexico; Mt. Huangshang, China; Lanzarote, Spain; Sierra Gorda, Mexico; and Fjord, Norway.

“Destination certification for sustainability is relatively new, but an important part of the future,” said GSTC CEO Randy Durband. “The vital role of the private sector in moving tourism towards greater sustainability is unchanged, but the needs are great and we need to work also from the angle of policy and awareness at the destination level. A part of that strategy is for touristic destinations to strive toward and achieve meaningful certification.”

ITR will manage communications for a “GSTC Destination Community” which will share insights and information on achieving and maintaining sustainability certification amongst interested destination management teams. Those interested may contact Mr. Patricio Diaz of ITR at

This event was was developed with the help of the Catalan Tourist Board, Diputació de Barcelona and Ajuntament de Barcelona:



About ITR

ITR created and developed the Responsible Tourism System (STR), which is a GSTC Approved certification by the BIOSPHERE RESPONSIBLE TOURISM label. The STR promotes the sustainable tourism activities so that responsible tourism can be a specific touristic product. ITR is an independent organization and its purpose is implementing actions and programs of sustainable development in the touristic industry. ITR follows the recommendations of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, Rio 1992), and of the guidelines from several programs of the World Tourism Organization and UNESCO about sustainable development and cultural and natural heritage protection.

About the GSTC

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is a global initiative dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism efforts around the world. The GSTC is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit that 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