The most recent training class – and the last one in 2019 – of the GSTC Sustainable Tourism Training Program (STTP) concluded last week, as we connected with 40 industry professionals from across Europe and beyond who joined our training, followed by the annual GSTC global conference in Terceira, Azores.

Our group, including participants representing public, private and civil society sectors, tackled many hard questions, exchanged ideas with each other, and together explored new opportunities – reminding us all of the importance of networking, collaboration, and ‘learning by sharing’ as part of our training experience.

Using the GSTC Industry and Destination Criteria as the foundation, the training class covered various topics relevant to our industry and the sustainability challenges and opportunities we are facing today, including: examples of destinations successfully implementing sustainable management frameworks; effective and meaningful approaches to reducing the carbon footprint of travel; and strategies for incorporating socially responsible actions and community initiatives into product development.

Recognizing the immense challenge facing our industry today in the face of climate crisis, we nevertheless focused on key areas where concrete and practical actions can be taken to make a difference – for the environment, local communities and our destinations – namely:

  • How we engage and empower our team members within our organizations;
  • How we design, develop and market our products;
  • How we work with suppliers and service providers within our value chain; and
  • How we promote collaboration at the destination and industry level.

Here are some of the comments we received from the Azores training participants:

“During the training, we realized how complex the journey towards sustainability is, but also how indispensable it is for the future of our destinations.” – Teresa Ferreira, Diretor, Turismo de Portugal

“It was a great experience to be in a room with peers and listen and share experiences and best practices.” – Elodie Baran

“the training gave me many insights that I will use in my daily work to develop more sustainable tourism.” – Annika Sandström, Regional Tourism Manager, Region Västerbotten, Sweden