Building Sustainability in European Tourism was the leading theme of the 2016 GSTC European Regional Meeting in Athens, Greece

6 December 2016

70c4fdbb-d6aa-4113-87ac-fb6b6a0db99eThe GSTC European Regional Meeting in Athens, Greece, took place on 23-24 November 2016, with 200 participants, including many GSTC members and GSTC Board members, coming from 16 countries.

The event brought a rare opportunity of face-to-face discussions on the subjects of the event sessions: Sustainability Standards and Programs for European Tourism; European Best Practices for Sustainable Management of Destinations and Enterprises; Marketing Sustainable Tourism in European Destination; The Value of a Global Sustainability Brand for Greece Tourism; and Applying Standards and Certifications to Destinations and Enterprises.

The conference was greeted by GSTC Chair Luigi Cabrini, followed by a keynote speech by the Bank of Greece Chief Economist Dimitris Malliaropulos on climate change challenges and the role of sustainable tourism in Greece’s new growth model. Destinations Certification in Greece was then explained by the Mayor of Milos Island and President of the Tourism Board of Central Union of Greek Municipalities Gerasimos Damoulakis.

“Europe is the oldest and most visited destination with over half of tourists worldwide visiting one of its countries.” says GSTC Chair Luigi Cabrini. “Sustainability is therefore essential in order to manage the impacts of tourism flows. The GSTC meeting in Athens has shown that several tourism actors are committed to and putting into practice sustainable tourism models.”

Participants also heard from key sustainable tourism professionals including: Albert Salman, President – Green Destinations Foundation; Andrés Fellenberg van der Molen, Technical Director – GSTC; George Drakopoulos, President & CEO – tourism generis; Dr. Ioannis Pappas, Co-founder and CEO – Green Evolution SA; Lonneke de Kort, CEO –; Martina von Münchhausen, Global Marine and Coastal Tourism – WWF; Mary Mulvey, CEO – Ecotourism Ireland; Naut Kusters, Manager – Travelife for Tour Operators; Olaf Schlieper, Innovation Manager – German National Tourist Board; Panos Thomakos, Editor – Tornos News International; Rika Jean-François, CSR Commissioner – ITB Berlin; Sören Stöber, Commercial Director - Travelife for Hotels; Tom Johnston, Senior Sustainability Manager - TUI Group; Dr. Xavier Font, Professor – University of Surrey; and many more.

“Many congratulations on this inaugural GSTC meeting in Greece.” Says European Sustainability Academy Director Sharon Jackson. “This event has come at a crucial time for Greece and for tourism in the world. When diverse groups work together with shared objectives co- created positive change can happen!”

The event’s carbon footprint was offset by the carbon offsetting sponsor Green Evolution SA, to become a ‘carbon neutral event’ by the scheme CO2 NEUTRAL SEAL. During the event usage of plastic was reduced to a minimum degree, badges were reused, and the remains of the food from lunch were donated to the organization ‘We Can’ (ΜΠΟΡΟΥΜΕ).

Presentations from the conference can be accessed here, and will be available online until September 2017.