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The Global Sustainable Tourism Council Launches Criteria for Destinations

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GSTC Invites Public to Comment on New Guidelines for Sustainable Destinations

Washington, D.C. – The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) announces the release of their Criteria for Destinations. The criteria are a set of guiding principles and performance indicators designed to lead destination managers, communities, and businesses on a path to sustainability: maximizing social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits while minimizing negative impacts. The Destination Criteria complement the existing GSTC Criteria for Hotels and Tour Operators, which have become a worldwide standard for tourism sustainability.

“While many destinations have been impacted by unsustainable development in the past, more and more destinations are now realizing the importance of sustainable tourism and are seeking outside support and guidelines to help set them on the right path,” says Erika Harms, Executive Director of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. “The GSTC’s Destination Criteria outline 45 specific actions that a destination can take to choose a different future—to make their cultural and natural attractions a source of delight for visitors, and a source of employment for locals, for many generations to come.”

The GSTC invites all interested parties to comment on or suggest improvements to the Destination Criteria until June 2, 2012 here.

The survey is available in English, French, Spanish, and Mandarin. These comments, along with feedback received through a pilot-testing program set to commence at five early-adopter destinations, will inform a final version of the Destination Criteria, to be produced later in 2012.

The GSTC’s Destination Criteria were developed by a panel of business owners, academics, government officials, and other experts, who examined the UN World Tourism Organization’s Indicators of Sustainable Development and other such guidelines currently in existence. Because the criteria are intended to describe a globally applicable set of minimum steps needed to approach sustainability, the criteria are seen as a baseline that each destination should add to or adjust as needed.

“The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is pleased to see how the GSTC has built on instruments like UNWTO’s Guidebook on Indicators of Sustainable Development for Tourism Destinations, by establishing a methodology for the application of global standards for destinations,” said Luigi Cabrini, Director, Sustainable Developemnt of Tourism at UNWTO

As Harms explains, The Global Sustainable Tourism Council does not aim to certify destinations as sustainable; rather, the Council will review existing certification standards and acknowledge those that meet their criteria. However, any destination will be able to use the new criteria as a guide to becoming environmentally, culturally, and socially sustainable.

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