Global Sustainable Tourism Council Releases Destination Criteria


Human beings, especially those in developed countries like the US, use a vast amount of the Earth’s resources just going about our day-to-day activities. Is it too much to ask that we take a break during our vacations? The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) has just made that a little easier, releasing a draft of its Destination Criteria for sustainable tourism, and better yet, inviting you to review it and give your opinion before a final version is carved in stone later this year, for all eternity (or, you know, the next revision).

The GSTC has already issued guidelines for hotels and tour companies, but this latest bit is meant for anyone and everyone involved in the tourism biz. The Criteria’s panel, comprised of experts in business, academia, and government, examined sources like the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s Indicators of Sustainable Development and its own previous guidelines to develop a four-part checklist that it calls "the minimum that any tourism management organization which wishes to be sustainable should aspire to reach." According to GSTC’s Web site, these four major goals are to:

1. Demonstrate sustainable destination management

2. Maximize social and economic benefits for the host community and minimize negative impacts

3. Maximize benefits to communities, visitors and cultural heritage and minimize impacts

4. Maximize benefits to the environment and minimize negative impacts.

Under each goal falls a series of tasks, 45 in total, including climate change management, fair trade, conservation initiatives, and public involvement.

"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," said Erika Harms, Executive Director of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council in a release. "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."

Speaking of visitors, GSTC has kindly made the guidelines available for your review through June 2, 2012. The Destination Criteria are available to review here, and you can take the survey and leave feedback here (surveys are also available in French, Spanish, and Mandarin). Weigh in and help make your next trip better . . . for all of us.

Photo credits: Belize via Shutterstock; Barcelona via Global Sustainable Tourism Council