Washington, DC (31 October 2019) Today, the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) released a new tourism industry study, The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics 2019.

This landmark report includes a special focus on impact tourism, providing cutting-edge examples of how tourism businesses, travelers, and organizations are making strategic contributions of time, talent, and treasure to social and environmental projects in destinations. It finds that when done responsibly, impact tourism is a vital tool for fostering community development and promoting conservation.

The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics 2019 also highlights growing consumer demand for sustainable travel experiences and analyzes the role businesses and destinations play in mainstreaming responsible tourism. The report contends that while consumer demand for responsible tourism continues to grow, businesses and destinations have a central responsibility to raise awareness and educate travelers about sustainability.

“With the growing threats of climate change, overtourism, overdevelopment, and poor development, there is no more time to waste,” said Gregory Miller, Executive Director of CREST. “We, as an industry, must come together and act as we never have before to protect our planet and its people. CREST’s Trends & Statistics report provides powerful and concrete examples of how destinations, companies, and travelers are working to be part of the solution in these challenging times.”
Trends & Statistics 2019 updates CREST’s previous industry studies, released every year since 2013.

This year’s report was prepared in collaboration with more than 30 leading organizations and institutions, including the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), and the Word Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Download the Full Report (1.5 MB)

14 October 2019: The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is pleased to announce that Booking.com, one of the world’s leading digital travel platforms, has officially joined as a member of GSTCs global network. Representing a wide range of tourism stakeholders, GSTC members are active drivers for sustainability in travel and tourism and contribute to the important work of the GSTC in promoting the widespread adoption of universal sustainable tourism principles. 

Helping protect and preserve destinations around the globe so that travellers can continue to enjoy them for generations to come has been a priority for Booking.com for several years and is one of the key strategic focus areas for the company. Booking.com’s existing sustainability efforts include an employee volunteer initiative, now going into its sixth year, that supports destination improvement projects all over the world, as well as an accelerator programme and other funding initiatives that support a wide range of social enterprises and innovative projects in sustainable travel with grants and mentorship to help scale their impact.

Green Flag Trails Auditor Training, Kythera

Kythera, Greece (2 October 2019) - Kythera island, Greece will become the first hiking destination in Europe to apply the international Green Flag Trails system of trail auditing, a sustainability mark being implemented by the World Trails Network, to increase the sustainability and marketability of trails around the world.

From October 4 to October 11, trail experts from Greece, Portugal, France, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Russia, Armenia, Georgia, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Kenya will gather on the island of Kythera, Greece, in order to participate at the Green Flag Trails Auditor Training Course, the first of its kind in Europe. The training is hosted by the World Trails Network, with the support of the Kytherian Foundation for Culture and Development. During the training, Kythera Trails, the official trails network of Kythera, will be audited and awarded with the Green Flag Trails Certificate.

Green Flag Trails is a certification that recognises trails for their accurate data, environmental responsibility and sustainable management. It focuses on sustainability and responsibility towards hiking and walking tourists and aims to stimulate ecotourism. Green Flag Trails is a scientifically based trail auditing system, developed over a 15 year period by professor of ecotourism, Dr Leon Hugo. The system has been applied and tested in 6 different countries to date, including Nepal, South Africa and Peru.

Adventure Green Alaska

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is pleased to announce that the Adventure Green Alaska Standards for Accommodations and for Tour-Operators have achieved the ‘GSTC-Recognized Standard’ status. 

Adventure Green Alaska began in 2007 as a statewide effort to grow sustainable tourism in Alaska and promote model businesses practicing economic, environmental and social sustainability.  It is Alaska’s only sustainable tourism certification program and was created entirely by volunteers. The program came under the Alaska Travel Industry Association in 2015, whose goal was to grow the program in Alaska and increase the programs credibility through the development of a new level of standards, AGA Summit, that meet the GSTC Criteria for tour operators and accommodations.

Achieving the GSTC-Recognized status means that a sustainable tourism standard has been reviewed by GSTC technical experts and the GSTC Accreditation Panel and deemed equivalent to the GSTC Criteria for sustainable tourism. Additionally, an organization that meets GSTC requirements must administer the standard. 

“We commend the Alaska Travel Industry Association for taking sustainability seriously, including the development of the Adventure Green Alaska program,” says Randy Durband, GSTC CEO. We’re pleased that the standards driving that program comply with the GSTC Criteria and as such have formally gained GSTC-Recognized status.”

Sarah Leonard, ATIA’s President and CEO, welcomed the achievement. “Alaska’s visitors come to Alaska to see our wild landscapes, mountain scenery, glaciers, and wildlife in their natural habitats and experience Alaska’s rich native cultures. The GSTC recognition is a vote of confidence in the AGA program’s efforts to promote sustainable management practices - environmental, cultural, social and economic choices as part of business practice.”

 “The GSTC recognition for the Adventure Green Alaska will help grow the program with more businesses interested in receiving this type of certification for their business, Leonard said. This recognition lends credibility with consumers when visitors are choosing their experience in Alaska.”

To date, 11 destination standards, and 32 hotels and tour operators standards have achieved GSTC-Recognized status. The completion of these step-wise programs rewards standard owners for their commitment to sustainability while offering the market a proof that these standards adhere to international norms.

The GSTC will continue to work with organizations around the world to provide GSTC Recognition of standards for sustainability in travel and tourism. GSTC Recognition does not ensure that a certification process is reliable, only that the set of standards used to certify are equivalent to the GSTC Criteria.

GSTC-Recognized standard owners are encouraged to complete the Accreditation process which assures that the certification process used to apply the standard meets international best practice, transparent, and rigor. Learn more about GSTC Accreditation.

 

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 role as the global Accreditation Body for Certification Programs 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 it accredits 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 UN agencies, NGO’s, national and provincial governments, leading travel companies, hotels, tour operators, individuals and communities – all striving to achieve best practices in sustainable tourism.

Information for media and the press: https://www.gstcouncil.org/about/for-the-press  
 
About the Alaska Travel Industry Association:

The Alaska Travel Industry Association, Alaska’s leading nonprofit membership association for the travel industry, works promote Alaska tourism industry as a major economic force while to providing statewide marketing resources, education opportunities and advocacy to members. For more information, visit www.alaskatia.org .

31 August 2019 (VNA) -  An Binh island off the coast of Quang Ngai province’s Ly Son district is promoting the environmentally-friendly homestay model. Initially, this model has made a hit with holidaymakers and has helped protect nature.

More than 10 homestays have been built in the environmentally-friendly manner on An Binh island. There is no use of concrete or steel. Instead, wood, sea shells and bottles are used, creating a refreshing experience for tourists.

After receiving love from customers, the model has been improved and spread to serve the growing demand of tourists.

To promote the model, Ly Son district has worked with the Ho Chi Minh City Association of Female Entrepreneurs to ask its advice on community tourism. Additionally, the district has encouraged local residents to promote the use of natural and environmentally-friendly materials for construction.

Since the beginning of the year, An Binh island has welcomed more than 50,000 visitors. The island homestays have made a strong impression on visitors and satisfied their accommodation needs. The locals know how to develop tourism associated with preserving the geological heritage, helping tourism here develop sustainably. 

29 June 2019 - The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is pleased to announce that Vireo Srl has achieved the ‘GSTC-Accredited’ status for certifying destinations.

Achieving the GSTC-Accredited status means that a certification program is following processes and procedures that have been reviewed and approved by the GSTC Accreditation Panel and by ASI (Assurance Services International), GSTC’s partner in managing the accreditation process, in order to provide an independent and trustworthy qualification of the GSTC-Accredited certification body.

Businesses and Destinations certified by a GSTC-Accredited certification program can also use the GSTC language and logo when they meet all GSTC Criteria. The purpose of the GSTC programs is to reward genuine practitioners of sustainable tourism, which in turn builds confidence and credibility with consumers.

Vireo Srl is a certification body whose commercial activities consist of providing Italian and foreign companies with environmental certification services. Vireo began in 2006 providing FSC® and PEFCTM certifications. Since 2011 Vireo has expanded its services providing also MSC, ASC, CTS, ISO 9001 and 14001. In 2017 Vireo has decided to continue its own process of growth applying for the GSTC accreditation. 

“After achieving accreditation to certify accommodations and tour operators last year, Vireo has taken another step this year, to be able to certify destinations, the first one in Italy,” says Luigi Cabrini, GSTC Chair.

“We believe GSTC is a very credible scheme that has a huge potential. We are extremely satisfied and ready for working with sustainable organizations that want to show their real commitment. We are also very proud to propose for the first time the certification for destination using the GSTC Destination Criteria. This is a common result that increase the credibility and international awareness of GSTC worldwide.” says Luigi Mazzaglia, CEO of Vireo.

To date, 5 accommodation programs, 6 tour-operator programs, and 3 destination programs have achieved GSTC-Accredited status. The completion of these step-wise programs rewards certification bodies for their commitment to sustainability while offering the market benefit of proof that their certification process is credible and adhere to international norms.

GSTC-Recognized standard owners are encouraged to join the leading GSTC-Accredited programs (accommodations, tour-operators, destinations) for and complete the Accreditation process which relates to the quality and neutrality of their certification process. Achieving a GSTC-Accredited status affirms that their certification process follows the highest international standards while further distinguishing their standards and processes amongst other certification programs. Learn more about GSTC Accreditation.

 

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 role as the global Accreditation Body for Certification Programs 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 it accredits 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 UN agencies, NGO’s, national and provincial governments, leading travel companies, hotels, tour operators, individuals and communities – all striving to achieve best practices in sustainable tourism.

About Vireo Srl

Vireo Srl is a certification body whose commercial activities consist of providing Italian and foreign companies with environmental certification services. Vireo began in 2006 providing FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council®) and PEFCTM (Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes) certifications. Since 2011 Vireo has expanded its services, providing also MSC (Marine Stewardship Council), ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council),  CTS (Carbon Trust Standard), ISO 9001 and 14001. In 2017 Vireo has decided to continue its own process of growth, applying for the GSTC accreditation. This import result was achieved in August 2018 becoming the second GSTC-Accredited certification body to certify to the GSTC Criteria.

Costa Rican Vacations offer scholarshipsCosta Rican Vacations offer scholarshipsSan José, Costa Rica (JUNE 17, 2019) – During National Travel and Tourism Week, travel agency Costa Rican Vacations chose the 2019 winners of its scholarship program. It has the pleasure of announcing the winners today. Two students dedicated to healthy lifestyles and sustainability have received $1,000 each to continue their studies at U.S. universities.

Both students were selected based on a personal essay describing their career goals in relation to their specific field of study. This year’s winners are the following:

• Brittany Flaherty, San Diego State University: Enthusiastic and determined, Brittany wants to promote healthier lifestyles as a Hospitality and Tourism major and her own future business.

• Emma Wilkinson, Flagler College: As a Coastal Environmental Science major, Emma has dedicated her studies and free time to better the relationship between human activity and the sea.

“Since our founding, Costa Rican Vacations has been involved in promoting sustainable tourism within Costa Rica,” said Casey Halloran, CEO, Namu Travel Group. “Our company is comprised of a diverse, international team who endeavour to promote, improve, and encourage tourism and responsible travel.”

Launched in 2015, the scholarship reflects the company’s commitment to sustainable travel. Scholarships are not renewable; however, a recipient may reapply.

“Thank you for this wonderful opportunity!” said Brittany Flaherty, scholarship recipient. “I am very thankful that I was chosen for this prestigious scholarship.” 

The Costa Rican Vacations scholarship is given annually to two students. Details can be found on the website: https://www.vacationscostarica.com/about-us/scholarships/

The Mauritian Standard on Sustainable Tourism

Port Louis, Mauritius - 27 May 2019: The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is pleased to announce that the Mauritian Standard on Sustainable Tourism has achieved the ‘GSTC-Recognized Standard’ status. The Mauritian Standard on Sustainable Tourism (MS 165:2019) was developed to guide the sustainable development of the tourism industry in Mauritius. It is meant for any tourism business or any tourism-related activity to enhance its sustainability performance.

The focus of the Sustainability Tourism Standard is to address requirements of the environmental impacts and its effect on land, air, water and other organism and ecosystem of the island. The social-cultural impacts that affect local communities, social structure and cultures as well as economic impacts categorised as direct, indirect or induced. These requirements to be measured, monitored and evaluated for continual improvement of the sustainability of the tourism industry in Mauritius.

“We are proud to welcome Mauritius as a destination that adopts an integrated approach to sustainable tourism development through comprehensive standards that include all aspects of sustainability: management, social/community, cultural, and environmental,” says Luigi Cabrini, Chair, GSTC. “This is especially important for an island that possesses and offers to their tourists an incredible variety of resources and attractions.”

‘This GSTC recognition of our local standard is a testimony of the professional work undertook by the team from the Mauritius Standards Bureau and officers from the Ministry of Tourism and Tourism Authority," says Khoudijah Boodoo, Director, Mauritius Tourism Authority. "We strongly believe that through this international recognition, the local stakeholders would take the best of advantages to levelling up their operations to meet best sustainability practices. In line with the 'Sustainable Island - Mauritius Project', the MS165:2019 has an ever prominent role to play, consolidating our positioning as a high-level tourist destination while ensuring the sustainability of the Industry."

Yusuf Foondun, Head of Quality Assurance Unit, Mauritius Standards Bureau, says that the Tourism sector has been one of the major economic pillars of Mauritius for a long time. "We believe that adopting the Sustainable Tourism Standard – MS 165:2019 will revamp our image on the international arena as one of the most prestigious tourism destinations which takes care at protecting the biodiversity of the island and preserving its ecological balance, thus ensuring sustainable development of the tourism sector." 

Achieving the GSTC-Recognized status means that a sustainable tourism standard has been reviewed by GSTC technical experts and the GSTC Accreditation Panel and deemed equivalent to the GSTC Criteria for sustainable tourism. Additionally, an organization that meets GSTC requirements must administer the standard. GSTC Recognition does not ensure that the certification process is reliable, only that the set of standards used to certify includes the minimum elements to ensure sustainability. The purpose of the GSTC programs is to use a common and clear definition of what 'sustainable tourism' means, as well as to reward genuine practitioners of sustainable tourism, which in turn builds confidence and credibility with consumers.

"Mauritius is a destination of pleasure with the Mauritian hospitality composing of the rainbow and peaceful population originating from India, China, Africa, and Europe. The Sun, Sand, Sea and Pure Air is the strength of our Island, situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean."

The Ministry of Tourism and the Tourism Authority in Mauritius have already endorsed a pilot project for the implementation of the Sustainable Tourism Standard in hotels and tours its certification by the Mauritius Standards Bureau: "The Certification of tourism operators to MS 165:2019 can take a better position in the tourism market to distinguish them from any tourist operators that may be guilty of destroying the environment, society, culture, and economy of the island and the globe."

To date, 11 destination standards, and 32 hotels and tour operators standards have achieved GSTC-Recognized status. The completion of these step-wise programs rewards standard owners for their commitment to sustainability while offering the market a proof that these standards adhere to international norms.

The GSTC will continue to work with organizations around the world to provide GSTC Recognition of standards for sustainability in travel and tourism. GSTC Recognition does not ensure that a certification process is reliable, only that the set of standards used to certify are equivalent to the GSTC Criteria. GSTC-Recognized standard owners are encouraged to complete the Accreditation process which relates to the quality and neutrality of their certification process. Achieving a GSTC-Accredited status affirms that their certification process follows the highest international standards while further distinguishing their standards and processes amongst other certification programs. Learn more about GSTC Accreditation.

 

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 role as the global Accreditation Body for Certification Programs 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 it accredits 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 UN agencies, NGO’s, national and provincial governments, leading travel companies, hotels, tour operators, individuals and communities – all striving to achieve best practices in sustainable tourism.

Information for media and the press: https://www.gstcouncil.org/about/for-the-press/

About Mauritius Standards Bureau

The Mauritius Standards Bureau (MSB) is the National Standards Body for the Republic of Mauritius. It is a parastatal body set up under the Mauritius Standards Bureau Act 1993 and operates under the aegis of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Consumer Protection and a non-profit making organisation.

The Bureau is mandated to promote and provide market-relevant standards, metrology and internationally recognised conformity assessment services for the business community, government and society at large. It is also the custodian of national measurement standards and maintains the primary measurement standards in Mauritius to ensure their traceability with the International Systems of Units. Moreover, the MSB is the designated WTO TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade) National Enquiry Point in respect to standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures in force under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade of the World Trade Organization. The Mauritian National Standards Body is a member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), a member of the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) and participates in standards work in Southern African Developing Community (SADC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

Mauritius Standards Bureau website: http://msb.intnet.mu

Madrid, Spain - 20 May 2019: The new Observatory is located in the city of La Antigua Guatemala, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a leading tourism destination. Led by the Instituto Guatemalteco de Turismo (INGUAT) and supported by the Guatemalan government, the Observatory will periodically collect data and scientific evidence as it monitors the effect tourism has on the historic city. This data will then be used to assess how tourism can best be used to help drive sustainable growth and development.

“We warmly welcome Antigua´s entry into our global network of observatories. This demonstrates Guatemala’s strong commitment to tourism as a force for good,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. “The Observatory will generate more and better evidence of the economic, environmental and social impacts that tourism has on Antigua and the surrounding area. This will facilitate decision-making so that tourism can continue to drive sustainable development.”

The establishment of the new Observatory was announced during the 64th meeting of the UNWTO Regional Commission for the Americas, also held in Antigua (15-16 May). Moving ahead, the Observatory will work with an interdisciplinary group of local experts. This commitment to the input of local stakeholders is a key feature of the INSTO Observatories around the world.

Jorge Mario Chajón, Director General of INGUAT, adds: “This project will have a real multiplier effect, maximizing the economic as well as the social benefits that tourism brings. We welcome the opportunity to partner with UNWTO and work together to make tourism a key part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

About INSTO

The UNWTO International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories (INSTO) was created in 2004 with the main objective of supporting the continuous improvement of sustainability and resilience in the tourism sector through systematic, timely and regular monitoring of tourism performance and impact at the local level. The network connects committed destinations around the world, helping them to exchange and improve knowledge and understanding of the monitoring activities throughout the destination and the responsible management of tourism.

Sri Lanka Ecotourism FoundationSri Lanka Ecotourism FoundationColombo, Sri Lanka - 2 May 2019:  Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation, the pioneer National Ecotourism Society in Sri Lanka, expresses its deepest condolences and sympathy for the families of the brotherly Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu and all other religious denominations who have lost their near and dear ones in the brutal and horrific attacks on Easter Sunday that had caused damage to an unthinkable proportion.

This brutal attack has been universally condemned by all sections of Sri Lankan Society and the International Community. That human beings could inflict such a carnage on fellow human beings defies belief. Sri Lanka and its people have been jolted out of the peaceful environment which they have been enjoying by the brutal acts of misguided individuals. 

As for the official statements issued by the Sri Lanka Government, 360 people have been killed including 48 foreign tourists and 600 people injured. Three churches, located in Colombo, Negombo, Batticaloa and Kochchikade close to the Colombo International Airport, have been attacked by the suicide bombers. Besides, blasts also rocked the star class hotels such as Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand in Colombo, killing and injuring many including the tourists.

According to the Minister of Finance, Sri Lanka, the collapse of the tourism industry is the biggest challenge. The Government of Sri Lanka expects to contain earning loses under USD 750 million this year and the industry is expected to recover within one or two years. The industry now expects only 30 percent of the tourist arrivals forecast this year. These calculations are based on figures issued by the Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

The tourism drop will affect mainly small and medium enterprises, many rural communities who are engaged in home stay tourism business, operators of small scale ecolodges and restaurants.

Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation (SLEF) in association with its international networks and local partners have devised a programme to assist these small scale community based tourism stakeholders. Palitha Gurusinghe, SLEF's President, has told Ecoclub that the crisis management actions include the following:

  • SLEF have urged the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority and the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau to assist SLEF to conduct meetings with the stakeholders of SME’s and Community Based Ecotourism sector, particularly active in the beach resort areas and in the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka, enabling the SLEF to meet the stakeholders and advise them how to cope with the situation and how to recover from the current crisis.
  • Help stakeholders prepare proposals in case they wish to reschedule bank loans.
  • Increase awareness about the "Green Loan Facilities" scheme initiated by the government which offers low interest rates and support stakeholders in developing business plans to secure green loans from banks.
  • Promote businesses through SLEF websites and networks.
  • Inform visitors through print and electronic media that Sri Lanka is now a safe destination and urge visitors to support ecotourism businesses in Sri Lanka.

SLEF believes the tourism industry in Sri Lanka is resilient to similar situations experienced during 30 years of civil war, hence the industry would bounce back soon.