Hola! A warm thank you to everyone who was able to attend the 2nd Annual GSTC Membership Council meeting in Barcelona, Spain last week. We had an amazing turn out (close to 200 people registered for the event!). The most exciting part…we had 60 members join us!

The week began with a two-day meeting of the GSTC Board of Directors. The group reviewed the work of the organization over the past year and discussed future projects, resource needs and funding opportunities.

Tuesday night GSTC members were treated to a cocktail reception, sponsored by the UN Foundation, at the Barcelona Maritime Museum garden. The paella and Spanish wine flowed while old friends reconnected and new friendships were established. The weather couldn’t have cooperated better.

The Open Forum featured opening remarks from Erika Harms, Executive Director of the GSTC, Kelly Bricker Associate Professor-University of Utah and GSTC Board Chair, Luigi Cabrini, UNWTO, Charles Arden Clark, UNEP and representatives from the government of Barcelona. The mix of English, Spanish and Catalan made for a very linguistically musical morning!

Later in the morning Shannon Stowell, President of the Adventure Trade Tourism Association hosted a panel discussion on Sustainable Destinations featuring Enric Turno from the city of Barcelona, Tomas Azcarate from Responsible Tourism Institute, Pere Duran from Barcelona Tourism and Sushma Bhatia from the city of San Francisco.

After a great networking coffee break in the warm sun of Barcelona, the next panel covered Sustainable Business moderated by Sabre Holdings’ Leilani Latimar. Panel guests included Esther Trujillo of Melia, Lucas Bobes of Amadeus, Jamie Sweeting of Royal Caribbean Cruises and Andreas Vermoehlen of TUI.

Richard Edwards provided a few words on the GSTC communications strategy and our friend Gary Leopold, President and CEO of ISM revealed the GSTC marketing campaign designed by ISM!

Next, we had an informative and spirited keynote address from Sebastian Escarre, Vice President of Melia. He spent his time building the case for why sustainable management is key to future success not only for his properties but also for the world.

Following Mr. Escarre’s key note address we had the Technology panel moderated byTravel Holdings President, Ted Jansen.

Finally, the Open Forum session closed with the awarding of the ITR BIOSPHERE certification to the city of Barcelona.

After the Membership lunch sponsored by Sabre Holdings, the official Membership Council meeting got underway with a welcome from Kelly Bricker and an overview of the organizations’ work over the past year from Erika Harms. Each of the Working Group chairs provided updates as well. We heard from Cathy Parsons on Accreditation, Herve Houdre on International Standards, Leilani Latimer on Market Access, Kelly Bricker on Education and Tools and Seleni Matus on Destinations.

Following the working group presentations Richard Edwards and I presented the communications plan for the next 18 months and David Brown from Solimar and I walked through the new GSTC website and the Members Only section.

The meeting closed in the late afternoon with a much appreciated in-depth and lively round of questions from members to the working groups and Secretariat. All the recommendations were very much appreciated and will be incorporated into the work of the GSTC. The Secretariat will provide a detailed report in the coming weeks which will inform future actions based on those recommendations.

That evening Members were treated to a spectacular dinner in the amazing Llotja De Mar Building in the Golden Room, sponsored by the city of Barcelona and the Chamber of Commerce. We were all awed by our surroundings and everyone had their cameras out!

Thursday morning kicked off with the first round of Breakout Sessions. David Brown of Solimar presented Using The GSTC Criteria & Self-Assessment Tool while Amos Bien and Richard Bradley led How To Become GSTC Accredited.

The second round of Breakout Sessions featured Leilani Latimar presenting on How to Market Green Online while in the room Brooke Angles of Social Click spoke about Using Social Media Effectively.

The day wrapped up with each of the Working Groups meeting for several hours to firm up their plans for the year and work on action plans.

On a personal note, I want to say how grateful I am to work with and around such lovely, passionate, intelligent people. From our board, to our membership to my awesome co-workers, the 2nd Annual Membership Council meeting was a huge success and that success is due to everyone’s input and active participation, patience and good humor!

I can’t wait for next year!

The date and location for next year’s meeting is still to be determined. There will be a bidding process as many destinations have expressed interest in hosting the GSTC annual meeting. We will keep you posted as details develop.

Thank you again!
Janice Lichtenwaldt, Communications Director


More photos available here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gstc/with/5958908193/


Global Sustainable Tourism Council Holds 2nd Annual Membership Council Meeting, hosted by the city of Barcelona. Over 150 organizations gatherer in support of sustainable tourism and to celebrate Barcelona as the first city to receive the sustainable destination BIOSPHERE certification. Barcelona, Spain (June 29, 2011).

Today, over 150 participants gathered in the City of Barcelona, Spain to learn more about and discuss actions to be taken toward mainstreaming Sustainable Tourism. With only one year in existence The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), a global organization dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism around the world, held its 2nd Annual Membership Council Meeting. A highlight of the gathering came when the city of Barcelona was awarded the ITR BIOSPHERE certification as a World Class Destination in recognition of the city’s efforts to become a sustainable destination.

“We wish to congratulate the Global Sustainable Tourism Council on its success. In one year it has positioned itself as a leading organization in transforming the tourism industry to a more sustainable business model. The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria today is the platform for countries, cities, businesses and other organizations engaging in sustainable tourism practices. We also extend our congratulations to Barcelona and encourage other cities to follow the path,” says Bruce Poon Tip, Founder of Gap Adventures.

Hosted by the city of Barcelona, the event brought together tourism industry leaders from around the world, including representatives from UNWTO, UNEP, Melia, TUI, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Google Travel, Sabre Holdings, Amadeus, Adventure Travel Trade Association, Rainforest Alliance and others. The topics of the meeting included the promotion of sustainable destinations, the value of doing business sustainably, and the use of technology in hastening the pace of economic, environmental and cultural sustainability in tourism. Members also discussed how to more effectively promote and market credible sustainable tourism offerings.

At the meeting The Global Sustainable Tourism Council launched it’s campaign Travel Forever, geared towards demonstrating the power of positive change that comes from sustainable tourism. Other outcomes included the revisions of the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, which will be up for public consultation, and the reveal of the new website.

The city of Barcelona received the Biosphere Certification from Tomas Azcarate, President of ITR, and Luis Ramallo Massanet, President of UNESCO.“The GSTC is honored to hold our 2nd annual meeting in Barcelona, the city where we launched the GSTC Criteria at the IUCN Congress in 2008.

We are very grateful to our hosts, the city of Barcelona and congratulate them on earning the BIOSPHERE certification. They are a model for other cities around the globe,” said Erika Harms, GSTC Executive Director.Contact: Janice Lichtenwaldt, Communications Director, janicel@unfoundation.org or +1 206 406 6052