Istanbul joins GSTC

Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Directorate of Tourism has joined as a Member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)

Positioned at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Istanbul is nestled in the northwestern corner of Türkiye. With its iconic architecture and historic Byzantine and Ottoman heritage, its pristine Bosporus waterfront, and a fusion of diverse cultures, Istanbul perfectly embodies the cosmopolitan lifestyle that Türkiye is revered for.

The Directorate of Tourism was established in 2014 by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Council. The role of the Municipal Tourism Directorate of Istanbul is to oversee and promote tourism in Istanbul City. 

Sustainability in Istanbul

The Istanbul Environment-Friendly City Award was created in the framework of the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (MSSD 2016-2025) as one of its flagship initiatives. The Award was established by virtue of COP 19 Decision IG.22/19 with the aim of recognizing the efforts of local authorities in promoting sustainable development in Mediterranean coastal cities. The Award recognizes the role and contributions of cities and local authorities in fulfilling the UNEP/MAP-Barcelona Convention system’s vision for a healthy Mediterranean Sea and coast.

In 2021, Istanbul was the third Turkish city after Izmir and the capital Ankara to join EBRD Green Cities Urban Sustainability Program and became the program’s 47th member overall.

Also, last year, The Istanbul Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) was announced, developed by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality within the scope of the «Global Future Cities Programme Türkiye» of the United Kingdom’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (UK FCDO) and its Delivery Partner Arup and Strategic Partner the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat).

Ekrem İmamoğlu, Mayor of Istanbul said: “One of my main promises prior to becoming mayor was a ‘green Istanbul’ for everyone.”

The Tourism Directorate of Istanbul supports and promotes the culture of Istanbul City by organizing cultural events and festivals, developing and promoting cultural routes and heritage trails that highlight significant historical and cultural sites in Istanbul, establishing partnerships and collaborations with cultural institutions, museums, universities, and artists (both domestically and internationally), establishing information centers, mobile apps, and social media specifically dedicated to promoting Istanbul’s cultural attractions, launching targeted marketing and promotional campaigns that emphasize Istanbul’s cultural offerings and actively participating in the preservation and conservation of cultural heritage sites in Istanbul, fostering a deeper appreciation of the city’s cultural richness among both visitors and residents. 

The Tourism Directorate of Istanbul also established the Scientific Tourism Research and Data Center of Istanbul to gather and analyze data on tourism trends, visitor profiles, and economic impacts to assess the effectiveness of tourism initiatives and plan for future development. This information helps in making informed decisions and formulating tourism policies and strategies. 

The Directorate also regulates tourism-related businesses and services, which aims to follow the GSTC Criteria, the global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, to ensure the long-term viability and preservation of natural and cultural resources. This includes implementing environmental initiatives, supporting responsible tourism activities, and raising awareness among visitors and locals about the importance of sustainable tourism in Istanbul. 

Overall, the Municipal Tourism Directorate of Istanbul plays a vital role in managing and promoting tourism at the local level, with the aim of attracting visitors, boosting the local economy, and fostering the sustainable development of tourism within Istanbul City.

GSTC Welcomes Istanbul

«We extend a warm welcome to Istanbul as a new member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. Istanbul’s dedication to sustainability echoes its profound reverence for its historical legacy and signifies a progressive mindset towards its upcoming future,» says Randy Durband, CEO of GSTC.

GSTC encourages destinations pursuing sustainability practices in tourism development and management to join as GSTC members and apply the GSTC Destination Criteria, which eventually can help achieve certification by a GSTC-Accredited Certification Body

About Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Directorate of Tourism

The Directorate of Tourism was established in 2014 by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Council. The role of a Municipal Tourism Directorate of Istanbul is to oversee and promote tourism in Istanbul City. Its primary objective is to enhance the local economy by attracting tourists, managing tourism-related activities, and ensuring the positive development of the tourism industry in the area.

The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Directorate of Tourism will be enhancing the long-term competitiveness of Istanbul as a destination. The Directorate of Tourism represents the interests of Istanbul’s residents and tourism sector and at national & international levels. Istanbul Tourism Directorate will foster Istanbul as a competitive destination featuring a balance between profitable tourism businesses, an effective market position, an attractive environment, positive for visitor experiences, and supportive for local residents. The Directorate of Tourism will definitely encourage the development of tourist amenities and facilities which meet the needs of  changing markets while communicating the most appropriate destination image, planning attractions, and facilities of Istanbul to selected markets.

About the GSTC

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council® (GSTC®) establishes and manages global sustainable standards, known as the GSTC Criteria. There are two sets: Destination Criteria for public policy-makers and destination managers, and Industry Criteria for hotels and tour operators. These are the guiding principles and minimum requirements that any tourism business or destination should aspire to reach in order to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources while ensuring tourism meets its potential as a tool for conservation and poverty alleviation.

The GSTC Criteria form the foundation for GSTC’s assurance role for Certification Bodies that certify hotels/accommodations, tour operators, and destinations as having sustainable policies and practices in place. GSTC does not directly certify any products or services, but provides accreditation to those that do. The GSTC is an independent and neutral USA-registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization that represents a diverse and global membership, including national and provincial governments, leading travel companies, hotels, tour operators, NGOs, individuals and communities – all striving to achieve best practices in sustainable tourism.

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