The Ministry of Tourism and Youth of the Republic of Serbia has joined as a Member the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). With the support of the United Nations Development Programme, the Republic of Serbia officially became a member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
Serbia has many opportunities and potentials for the development of sustainable tourism. The country, located in the heart of Southeast Europe, has a picturesque landscape, ranging from the fertile plains of Vojvodina to the mountains and gorges of Tara and Kopaonik National Parks, rivers and lakes, nature reserves and amazing natural monuments as “Djavolja varos” (The Devil’s Town). The country is also a place of a rich cultural heritage with numerous historical sites, medieval monasteries, fortresses and archaeological sites.
One of the many opportunities for the development of sustainable tourism in Serbia is also organic food and wine tourism, where the offer includes farm/field to table experiences, vineyard tours and wine tastings, and promotion of local products. Besides rural and agritourism, there are many opportunities for urban sustainable tourism: cities in Serbia – Belgrade, Novi Sad and Niš – offer a blend of history, culture and vibrant urban life. Additionally, Serbia’s capital Belgrade has recently been selected as the host for the specialized EXPO 2027 exhibition “Play for Humanity”.
GSTC Trainings on Sustainable Tourism in Serbia
In September 2023, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Serbia and the Ministry of Tourism and Youth of the Republic of Serbia, with the support of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), jointly organized workshops on sustainable tourism. The two-day workshops were held in Belgrade, Novi Sad, and Niš, while participants were representatives of the Ministry of Tourism and Youth, tourist organizations, as well as of the private sector.
The aim of the workshops, led by the GSTC CEO, Randy Durband and Dr. Sabine Mueller, the GSTC Expert, was to familiarize the participants with the standards of sustainable, i.e. community-based tourism. The participants became acquainted with what sustainability means for the local community and the ways it contributed to its economic development, improvement of the population’s quality of life, and enhancement of the authentic local experience for tourists, in addition to the preservation of the environment.
Assistant to the Minister of Tourism and Youth, Dunja Đenić said that development of the tourism in the Republic of Serbia is based on the principles of sustainability, from the economic, cultural, sociological, social, and environmental points of view. “Serbia’s membership in the Global Sustainable Tourism Council is both a privilege and obligation for all the actors in Serbian tourism that would, from now on, adjust the development of tourism to the globally accepted criteria. In the first half of the next year, the national sustainable tourism criteria will be created, in line with the GSTC Criteria when it comes to three categories: development of tourist destinations, hotel industry, and travel organizers. The Ministry of Tourism and Youth, through its sectoral policy in tourism, stimulates the development of tourism with subsidies and grants intended for public, private, and civil sectors,” emphasized Đenić.
Additionally, UNDP and the City of Sombor have signed a Pledge on Sustainable Tourism to establish Sombor with its surroundings as a pilot destination for sustainable tourism in accordance with Global Sustainable Tourism Council standards. It also includes the preparation of a call for other destinations in Serbia to participate in the development of sustainable tourism based on the Sombor pilot.
MOU between the Ministry of Tourism and Youth of the Republic of Serbia and GSTC
The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and the Ministry of Tourism and Youth of the Republic of Serbia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in May 2023, at the #GSTC2023 Global Sustainable Tourism Conference in Antalya, Türkiye, in order to enhance collaboration. The primary objective of this partnership is to foster cooperation among all parties involved, generating synergies that will contribute to the advancement of sustainable tourism and the application of the GSTC Criteria. By promoting mutual understanding of each other’s requirements and procedures, GSTC and the Ministry of Tourism and Youth aim to elevate sustainable tourism initiatives in Serbia.
GSTC Welcomes Serbia
«In collaborating with the GSTC, Serbia aims to promote a sustainable transition in the tourism industry by inspiring businesses and destinations to actively adopt sustainable measures as core values” asserts Randy Durband, GSTC CEO. «We are convinced that through partnership initiatives like this, we can create substantial change and guarantee that sustainable tourism yields benefits for not only the environment and the communities but also contributes to the enduring prosperity of the entire industry,» says Mr. Durband.
For more information about the Ministry of Tourism and Youth of the Republic of Serbia: https://mto.gov.rs/
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.