Leading the field is the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) which has just announced its new Tourism Criteria for Destinations. The GSTC is best known as an accreditation organisation, which ensures that sustainable tourism certification schemes around the world are audited to the highest standard possible. It has worked with an impressive array of organisations with UN agencies, leading travel companies, hotels, tourism boards, tour operators, individuals and communities all showing up on their membership list. But now, they are tackling destinations as a whole, a process which aims to create a common understanding of what constitutes sustainable destinations with poverty alleviation, gender equity and environmental sustainability the main cross-cutting issues being addressed throughout.
Early Adopters have been testing the criteria, such as Cusco-Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu in Peru and Teton County, Wyoming USA. This eclectic mix of destinations have inspired and informed the new criteria for Destinations – criteria which are not aimed at certifying destinations but as a baseline that each destination should add to or adjust as needed.
International cooperation in certification is also demonstrated by South Africa’s pioneering Fair Trade in Tourism (FTT) scheme. They have recently signed Mutual Recognition Agreements with two leading certification organisations,TourCert and Travelife for Tour Operators. The Mutual Recognition Agreements will allow any tour operator certified by TourCert or Travelife to receive the full number of possible points when using an FTT-certified tourism business as a supplier, thus waiving the requirement to conduct an individual check of this supplier by both TourCert & Travelife. FTT’s General Manager & Acting Executive Director Kathy Bergs sums up the gear change perfectly, saying “Mutual Recognition is a strategy of collaboration rather than competition with sister sustainable tourism certification schemes and is welcomed by an industry facing ‘label fatigue’”.
Written and edited by Catherine Mack who specialises in sustainable tourism. Follow her on Twitter @catherinemack or on her blog Ethical Traveller