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Published on : Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Announcing The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria for Destinations–a global effort creating a common understanding of what constitutes sustainable destinations. The criteria are the minimum undertakings a destination should achieve. The Criteria focus on an integrative, interdisciplinary, and holistic approach which include four main objectives: to (i) demonstrate sustainable destination management; (ii) maximize social and economic benefits for the host community and minimise negative impacts; (iii) maximise benefits to communities, visitors and cultural heritage and minimize impacts; and (iv) maximize benefits to the environment and minimise negative impacts. The criteria are designed to be used by all types and scales of destinations.
The relative new term of form of tourism ‘Sustainable tourism’ is on the rise: consumer demand is growing, travel industry suppliers are developing new green programmes, governments and international agencies are creating new policies to encourage sustainable practices in tourism. But what does “sustainable tourism” really mean? How can it be measured and credibly demonstrated, in order to build consumer confidence, promote business prosperity, foster community benefits, and fight false claims?
The Criteria are part of the response by the tourism community to the global challenges presented by the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. Poverty alleviation, gender equity and environmental sustainability, including climate change, are the main issues that are addressed through the criteria.
The Destination Criteria and indicators were developed based on already recognized criteria and approaches including, for example, the UNWTO destination level indicators, GSTC Criteria for Hotels and Tour Operators, and other widely accepted principles and guidelines, certification criteria and indicators. They reflect certification standards, indicators, criteria, and best practices from different cultural and geo-political contexts around the world in tourism and other sectors where applicable. Potential indicators were screened for relevance and practicality, as well as their applicability to a broad range of destination types.
The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria are administered by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. Some of the expected uses of the criteria by tourism management organizations include the following: