GSTC2024 Conference Program

The GSTC2024 Global Conference in Royal Djurdgården, Stockholm, Sweden, will take place during April 23rd to 26th. The Conference will address the following themes: (A) Environment – Climate and Smart Management; (B) Social – Welcoming and Inclusive; (C) Governance – Thriving and Innovative; (D) Credible Assurance.

The conference days are 24th and 25th April.

GSTC Training Courses will take place previous to the conference. Find out more information on the courses and schedules here.

Conference Schedule

Tuesday, 23rd April

10:30 – 12:45Academic Symposium
(registration required)
10:30 – 12:45Meeting with Accredited Certification Bodies for Industry
(by invitation only)
14:00 – 15:15Meeting with Recognized Standard Owners for Hotels
(by invitation only)
15:30 – 17:30GSTC Government & Destination Members Meeting
(by invitation only)
19:00Welcome Reception
at Stockholm City Hall
21:00 – 22:30HållBar Meetup at Hasselbacken (optional)

Wednesday, 24th April – Conference Day 1

8:00 – 9:00Registration and Refreshments
9:15 – 10:00Opening Ceremony

  • Luigi Cabrini – Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Chairman
  • Visit Sweden
  • Tillväxtverket
  • Visit Stockholm
10:00 – 10:45GSTC’s Global Mission and Current Activities
Randy Durband – CEO, GSTC
10:45 – 11:30Refreshment Break and Networking
11:30 – 11:50Outlook Perspective
Former Prime Minister of Sweden, Chairman of Visita
11:50 – 12:40

@ Cirkus (plenary)

Tourism Supporting Biodiversity through Nature Positive and Rewilding

Dive into practical insights on how tourism can actively contribute to biodiversity conservation and habitat restoration. Discover success stories where the travel industry has played a pivotal role in reviving natural landscapes and learn how responsible tourism practices can empower local communities.

Moderator: Luigi Cabrini – Chairman, GSTC

  • Neil Rogers – Tourism Advisor, Rewilding Europe 
  • Netsai Bollmann – Programme Manager, Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area Secretariat; GSTC Board Member
12:40 – 12:50Presentation
Camilla Zedendahl – CEO, Royal Djurgården
12:50 – 14:15

Lunch and Networking

14:15 – 15:30

@ Cirkus

Industry Stakeholder Engagement at a Destination Level

Destination stewardship requires good public policy and management together with engagement of private sector stakeholders. Criterion A4 of the GSTC Destination Criteria and its Performance Indicators underscores that DMO’s must take an active role in engaging with the private sector. This is needed to encourage more sustainable forms of services and experiences. In this session attendees will learn about how fostering collaboration and partnerships among stakeholders can drive positive change within a destination. Our panelists will share examples of successful stakeholder engagement that contributes to sustainable tourism.

Moderator: CB Ramkumar – Vice Chair, GSTC

  • Cheh Hsien Lee – Division Director – Planning, Sentosa Development Corporation
  • Camilla Zedendahl – CEO, Royal Djurgården Society
  • Annika Sandström – Region Tourism Chief, Region Västerbotten
  • Susana Vicente Álamo – Director ESG, Peninsula Papagayo
14:15 – 15:30

@ Hazelius, Hasselbacken

EU Green Claims Directive and related Sustainability Regulations
14:15 – 15:30

@ Tiara, Hasselbacken

Sustainability in Business Travel

Business travel is a segment within the tourism industry focusing on visitors who travel for business and professional purposes. Business travel is an important factor in national and international business. However, it also has a negative effect on our environment. Sustainable business travel is concerned with managing the costs, social impacts and environmental consequences generated by the use of different modes of business travel. Using the GSTC Criteria as a reference point allows corporates and organizations to improve their commercial performance and enhance their reputation by adopting sustainable working policies and practices.

15:30 – 16:00Refreshment Break and Networking
16:00 – 17:00

@ Cirkus

Food Waste Reduction

With an estimated one-third of all food produced wasted annually, food waste management is not just about cutting costs; it’s a critical aspect of sustainability. This session explores actionable strategies for minimizing food wastage in hospitality, from several angles: zero-waste and plant-based meals, hotel kitchens, turning surplus food into quality meals, and regional initiatives.

Moderator: Koko Tang – Founder, Colorful Earth; GSTC Board Member

  • Vojtech Vegh – Zero-Waste Plant-Based Chef and Author
  • Bhummikitt Riktaengam – President, Sustainable Tourism Development Foundation (Phuket)
  • Filip Lundin – Founder, Sopköket
16:00 – 17:00

@ Hazelius, Hasselbacken

Sustainability in Attractions

As the GSTC is in the process of developing an Attraction Criteria, this session includes experts who will shed light on making attractions more sustainable without the complexity. Learn from real-world examples as our panelists from renowned attractions share insights on adopting sustainable practices. From straightforward eco-friendly designs to community-focused strategies, this session will demystify the basics of sustainable transformations in attractions.

Moderator: Matthias Beyer – CEO, Mascontour; GSTC Board Member

  • Andreas Veilstrup Andersen – CEO and President, Liseberg Group, International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, IAAPA
  • Guojian Ou – Deputy Vice President, Sustainable Solutions, Mandai Wildlife Group
  • Choni Fernandez Veciana – Director of Sustainability, PortAventura World, Spain
  • Gabriella Granditsky – Chief Sustainability Officer, Parks & Resorts Sweden
16:00 – 17:00

@ Tiara, Hasselbacken

Sustainability Nordic Programs Utilizing the GSTC Framework

In a handbook by the European Travel Commission, the importance of a national approach towards planning, developing and implementing sustainability in tourism through certification was emphasized. The handbook specifically recommends the GSTC framework. In this session, we will explore the Sustainable Travel Finland (STF) programme which provides companies and destinations with a toolkit for developing sustainable tourism, to more systematically adopt sustainable measures, as well as Norway’s Sustainable Destination program, a tool for the Norwegian tourism industry who wish to prioritize sustainable development. Discover how these programs are shaping the sustainable tourism landscape in the Nordic region, offering practical insights for broader implementation.

  • Ingunn Sørnes – Special Advisor on Sustainability, Innovation Norway
  • Liisa Kokkarinen – Head of Sustainable Development, Visit Finland
17:00 – 17:15Review logistics by moderators
17:15End of GSTC2024 Sweden First Conference Day
18:00Dinner (not included)

HållBar Meetup at Hasselbacken (optional)

Thursday, 25th April – Conference Day 2

8:00 – 9:00Registration and Refreshments
9:15 – 10:45

@ Museum of Technology

Green Mobility and Travelers Preferences

In this session, we will learn about the evolving landscape where green transportation meets the desires of modern travelers. Discover how innovative mobility solutions not only reduce environmental impact but also align with the shifting preferences of conscientious travelers. The session will provide insights into the future of green mobility and how to seamlessly integrate it into the travel experience, fostering a more responsible and environmentally conscious industry.

  • Carl-Oscar Lawaczeck – CEO, OceanSky
  • Henrik Littorin – Program Manager, ELIS
  • Maria Fiskerud – Innovation Eco-system Lead, Heartaerospace
9:15 – 10:45

Museum of Ethnography

NTOs Driving Hotel Sustainability Certification

National Tourism Organizations (NTOs) play a pivotal role in driving hotels to achieve sustainability certification. Join us to uncover how NTOs collaborate with hotels to implement sustainable practices, achieve certification, and enhance destination-wide sustainability efforts. In this session we will learn from the Türkiye Sustainable Tourism Program, developed by the Türkiye Tourism Promotion and Development Agency (TGA) with guidance from the GSTC, which is the first mandatory national program for accommodations based on the GSTC Criteria and GSTC Assurance program. We will also look into the Maltese national program for sustainable hotels which was re-launched in December 2023 by Malta Tourism Authority with support from the GSTC.

Moderator: Randy Durband – CEO, GSTC

  • Elif Balcı Fisunoğlu – Vice General Manager, Tourism Operations and Development, Türkiye Tourism Promotion and Development Agency (TGA)
  • Kevin Fsadni – Director of Product Development, Malta Tourism Authority (MTA)
9:15 – 10:45

Maritime Museum

Destination Stewardship and Guest Experience

The GSTC Destination Criteria have well proven their value as guides to good destination stewardship. Destination stewardship is the strategic management approach that safeguards the economic, environmental, and cultural vitality of tourist destinations. Our panel will bring together experts who will illustrate the positive impact of a synergy between responsible destination management with a specific focus on the guest experience at tourist destinations.

Moderator: Rachel McCaffery – Sustainability Lead, VisitEngland; Chair, GSTC’s Destination Stewardship Working Group

  • Wolfgang Töchterle – Marketing Director, IDM Südtirol – Alto Adige
  • Annika Fredriksson – CEO, Swedish Lapland Visitors Board
  • Lennart Pittja – Owner & Founder, Sápmi Nature Camp; Leadership Council, World Indigenous Tourism Alliance (WINTA)


10:45 – 11:15Refreshment Break and Networking
11:15 – 12:30

@ Museum of Technology

Sustainability Measurement & Evaluation

Measurement and evaluation is a crucial part of sustainability in tourism and is often mentioned in the suggested performance indicators of the GSTC Criteria. Join industry leaders and experts as we navigate the complex landscape of sustainability measurement and evaluation, learning from a comprehensive discussion that includes stats, trends, and useful examples. This session will provide insights into effective evaluation techniques that drive continual improvement in sustainability practices, ensuring a responsible and measurable approach to tourism.

Moderator: Dr. Willy Legrand – Professor, IU International University of Applied Sciences

  • Theofilos Kyratsoulis – General Manager – MINDHAUS
  • Kate Heiny – Vice President of Sustainability, Booking Holdings
  • Dr. Laura Ballerini – Senior Project Specialist, Statistics Department, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
  • Maria Wiberg – Analyst, Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket)
11:15 – 12:30

Museum of Ethnography

Attracting longer stays at Destinations

Encouraging longer stays and off-season visits enables destinations to tap into “slow-travel” customers that participate in activities beyond the usual “things to do” list. This helps diversify and disperse benefits from visitors and also mitigates issues of over-tourism. Experts from the field will share their insights on how destinations can optimize their appeal to encourage longer and more sustainable visits. From unique experiences to community involvement, this session aims to uncover practical approaches for extending the duration of stays while maintaining a focus on sustainability.

  • Leigh Howard – Chief Operations Officer, Tourism Fiji
  • Lena Gunnerhed – Head of Insight, Visit Sweden
  • Jason Bent – Tourism Development Advisor and Cluster Manager, Tourisme Îles de la Madeleine
  • Arnar Már Ólafsson – Director General, Icelandic Tourist Board
11:15 – 12:30

Maritime Museum

Challenges and Opportunities for SME Certification

Small tour operators and accommodations including hotels, resorts, and hostels, are an important part of the tourism industry. Some cater to budget-conscious travelers and some to high-end markets where both are seeking unique and authentic experiences. While small enterprises may have smaller footprint than larger enterprises, they still have an impact on the environment and local communities. In this session, we will discuss the challenges and opportunities of certification of small tourism enterprises, and how they can contribute to the overall sustainability of destinations.

12:30 – 13:45Lunch and Networking
13:45 – 14:45

@ Museum of Technology

Data-based Innovation in Tourism

In our panel discussion on Innovation in Tourism, our expert speakers will focus on data-based solutions and applications, sharing useful examples of innovation within the tourism industry. Discover how innovative approaches are reshaping the landscape of sustainable tourism. From technological advancements to creative solutions, this session aims to inspire fresh ideas and highlight the transformative power of innovation in making tourism more sustainable.

  • Jason Lin – Co-founder & CEO, Hotelzero
  • Jahanzeeb Ahmed – CCO, BeCause
13:45 – 14:45

@ Museum of Ethnography

Accessibility and Inclusion in Tourism

Globally, it is estimated that there are over 1 billion persons with disabilities, as well as more than 2 billion people, such as spouses, children and caregivers of persons with disabilities, representing almost a third of the world’s population, are directly affected by disability. Accessibility is a central element of any responsible and sustainable development policy. The concept “Tourism for All” is referred to in the GSTC Criteria (GSTC Industry Criteria‘s criterion A7.4; GSTC Destination Criteria‘s criterion B8). In addition, Inclusive tourism caters to people with different needs by addressing them from various perspectives, and by providing design and service solutions that aim to cover as many different groups as possible. Addressing accessibility and inclusivity, tourism businesses and destinations can tap into a significant market segment, expand their customer base, and increase their revenue. Moreover, it contributes to building a more diverse and tolerant society, where everyone has the freedom to explore and participate in travel experiences without limitations. Panelists will share insights and best practices in promoting accessibility and inclusivity in tourism and offer strategies for advancing these objectives.

  • Roni Weiss – Executive Director, Travel Unity
  • Martin Heng – Accessible & inclusive Travel Expert (former Lonely Planet’s Accessible Travel Manager and Editorial Adviser)
  • Rika Jean-François – CSR Commissioner, ITB Berlin; GSTC Board Member
  • Thomas Laurell – Chief of Staff, Stockholm Business Region
13:45 – 14:45

@ Maritime Museum

Community Engagement & Residents’ Quality of Life

Without holistic management that includes citizen participation, difficulties can easily arise, including overtourism, neighborhood disruption, cultural degradation, and various environmental problems. By contrast, well-managed tourism can enrich communities, improve public education, and provide the means to sustain natural habitats and elements of cultural heritage, from music and theater to architecture and cuisine. The relationship between tourism and a destination is complex. It requires a collaborative approach. Our experts, hailing from various sections in the tourism industry, will share real-world cases on how quality engagement with local residents can be a game-changer, creating a positive impact on both the community and the overall travel experience. This crucial aspect is an inalienable part of the stewardship of the destination.

Moderator: Dr. Kelly Bricker – Director, Center for Sustainable Tourism, Arizona State University; GSTC Vice-Chair

  • Fatma Mabrouk Khamis – Principal Secretary, Ministry of Tourism and Heritage, Zanzibar – Tanzania
  • Hele Lõhmus – Tourism Development Project Manager, Visit Tallinn
  • Stefania Clemente – Sustainability Project Manager, Trentino Marketing
14:45 – 15:15Refreshment Break and Networking
15:15 – 16:15

@ Museum of Technology

Part 1: Sustainable MICE

As international travel is returning so does the demand for large conferences as well as business retreats and small meetings. The MICE sector is part of the tourism industry and therefore can and should be part of the journey towards more sustainable practices. This session will discuss how to advance and apply sustainability in the MICE sector.

15:15 – 16:15

@ Museum of Ethnography

Part 1: Marketing Session – Talking About Sustainability without Talking About Sustainability

  • Juliet Kinsman – Sustainability Editor, Condé Nast Traveller
  • Emma Björner – Researcher and Interim Director, Gothenburg Research Institute
  • Dr. Milena Nikolova – Chief Behaviour Officer, BehaviourSMART
15:15 – 16:15

@ Maritime Museum

Part 1: Sustainability in Museums

Museums play an important role in cultural preservation and education. As we gather to explore the connection of culture and sustainable operation, this session will delve into strategies for making museums more sustainable. Speakers in this session will discuss how museums can become leaders in promoting responsible tourism and environmental stewardship, ensuring a balance between preserving our cultural heritage and safeguarding the planet for future generations.

  • Peter Skogh – Director, Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology
  • Carl-Éric Guertin – General Manager, Économusée Network Society
  • Dr. Kurt Grötsch – Director, Flamenco Dance Museum Seville
16:15 – 16:30Refreshment Break (drinks only)
16:30 – 17:15

@ Museum of Technology

Part 2: Workshop – Using the new GSTC MICE Criteria

The GSTC Criteria operate as the universal foundation for sustainability standards in travel and tourism. It has been meticulously established through a comprehensive global effort to introduce a universally understood and adopted language around sustainability within the tourism industry. The new GSTC MICE Criteria (covering Venues, Event Organizers, and Events/Exhibitions) will be published in March. This workshop will allow participants to review the new set of criteria, and discuss ways of implementing different sections of the GSTC MICE Criteria.

16:30 – 17:15

@ Museum of Ethnography

Part 2: Marketing Session Workshop
16:30 – 17:15

@ Maritime Museum

Part 2: GSTC Attractions Criteria Consultation Workshop

With growing interest and requests, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council is now developing the GSTC Attraction Criteria. Conference participants are welcome to take part in this consultation activity as part of the development process and help shape the GSTC Attraction Criteria.

  • Dr. Mihee Kang – Global Assurance Director, GSTC
17:15 – 17:30End of day logistics
19:00 – 22:00Farewell dinner at Vasa Museum


  • Closing session
  • Short museum tour
22:00 – 23:30HållBar Meetup at Hasselbacken (optional)

Friday, 26th April: Post-conference tour

10:00 – 16:00
(times vary depending on the tour)
Complimentary Guided Tour to choose from:

  • Archipelago Tour to Utö Island
  • Stockholm City Walking Tour
  • Tour of Royal Djurgården


Visit Sweden

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