(June 18, 2015) Innovation Norway continues to champion sustainable tourism with their recent launch of the country’s Sustainable destination standard. Since May, four destinations in Norway have achieved the new label and one has received the prestigious World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Tourism for Tomorrow Award for Destination Stewardship. Innovation Norway has successfully advanced their standard rapidly due to the nation’s foundation in love for  nature and their unique ability to unite a broad range of stakeholders toward the common goal of sustainable tourism.

Innovation Norway’s Sustainable Destination Standard

Innovation Norway’s Sustainable destination standard includes 45 criteria and 108 indicators to be measured, registered and monitored. The standard covers nature, culture, environment, social values, community involvement and economic viability. Measurable and continuous development are ensured through performance counts and renewing the brand every three years.
Once a destination is chosen, Innovation Norway applies the standard through a series of implementation and monitoring methods. Then, a committed resolution is formed by the municipal council to support sustainable development in tourism and similar commitments are made by the tourism operators. After that, the implementation of the standard can occur.  This includes tasks like establishing internal transport, energy saving initiatives, local food and cultural projects, signposts and building recreation trails. Jointly, a monitoring process occurs that includes documenting the overall use of local food, local culture, energy, waste production, and cultural assets in the destination. The entire process takes approximately two years. It’s the comprehensive nature of Innovation Norway’s standard and the application to broad stakeholders that make their standard successful and easier to implement.

Contributions to sustainable tourism

With the new label of ‘Sustainable destination’, Norway takes a lead in the international efforts to promote sustainability in tourism and destination development. In order for a destination itself to achieve certification as ‘sustainable’, a broader set of criteria must be met. A consistent effort to plan for sustainable tourism and support and strengthen environmental programs over time is required, as well as working to preserve the destination’s history, character and nature. In addition, certification places demands on the development of the destination’s businesses and society following principles of sustainability.

Inguun Sørnes, a special advisor to Innovation Norway remarked, “As a nationally implemented certification for destinations, ours was the only one we could find at the time we developed and launched in early 2013. At that time we had been working for 3 years on developing sustainability as a base for local destination development, and prior to that we ran a development program for single enterprises and sectors in tourism in finding a way to increase sustainability in the industry. The industry pointed at competence and certifications as core elements in increased sustainability focus, and we built both competence programs and increased awareness on the use of certifications.”

In 2012, Destination Røros, Norway received the prestigious WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Award for Destination Stewardship. The awards are among the highest accolades in the global travel and tourism industry, giving international recognition to best practice examples of sustainable tourism in action.

Advancing sustainable tourism

The variety of different industries that form Innovation Norway allow for a cohesive network unlike any other National Travel Organization. Innovation Norway’s standard contains specific criteria and indicators asking the destination to increase the number of single enterprise certifications (hotels and tour operators), thus enabling the destination certifications to not compete, rather support the other certifications. Also a division of Innovation Norway is ‘Visit Norway’ which provides a listing of all tourism products and enterprises that are environmentally labelled with a tag named “Green Travel” and most closely resembles the GSTC Criteria. Today, this covers five independent certifications.  Innovation Norway collects the information and makes the identification of the label available for the users of the site. Innovation Norway’s ability to integrate their sustainability standards into other industries has allowed them to advance sustainable tourism beyond other National Travel Organizations. To date, four destinations in Norway have achieved the Sustainable destination label.

About Innovation Norway

Innovation Norway is the result of a merger between four organisations; The Norwegian Tourist Board, The Norwegian Trade Council, The Norwegian Industrial and Regional Development Fund, SND and the Government Consultative Office for Inventors, SVO. The Norwegian Tourist Board operates as the nation’s National Travel Organization (NTO) and provides support to the tourism industry including the national brand Visit Norway.