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GSTC announces second group of Early Adopters to pilot new destination criteria

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) ecourages Interested destinations to apply by January 31 deadline.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) will select up to 10 destinations to pilot test the second phase of its new Destination Criteria, and encourages applications before the January 31 deadline.

Overseen by GSTC’s Destination Working Group and managed by NGO partner Sustainable Travel International, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s Criteria for Destinations are designed to orient destination managers, communities, and businesses toward the steps that are needed to sustain their natural and cultural assets, while benefiting local communities. The Destination Criteria complement the existing GSTC Criteria for Hotels and Tour Operators, which have become the worldwide sustainability standard for tourism businesses.

The pioneering group of destinations selected as Early Adopters for Phase 2 will help to test and provide feedback on the Destination Criteria. Early adoption of baseline sustainable tourism criteria and indicators will also offer these destinations improved decision-making frameworks, providing an increased ability to evaluate progress in the sustainable development of tourism.

“After learning so much from Phase One, we are ready to see the Destination Criteria implemented again in a diverse group of destinations around the world,” said GSTC Board Chairperson Kelly S. Bricker, Ph.D. “This will once again be a real-world test, incorporating the voices of multiple stakeholders: local communities, government agencies, NGOs, and the tourism industry itself. We aim to enhance the criteria in Phase Two while further building consumer confidence, promoting business prosperity, fostering community benefits, and fighting false claims.”  

The first round of Early Adopters included Fjord Norway; Teton County, Wyoming; Huangshan, China; St. Kitts and Nevis; Lanzarote, Spain; Okavango Delta, Botswana.

Each of the participants received a GSTC good-practices evaluation and was provided with a set of recommendations to assist the destinations’ adoption of sustainable tourism practices. Destination leaders helped to validate the range, applicability, and clarity of the criteria and indicators.

“Teton County, Wyoming, also known as Jackson Hole and the southern half of Yellowstone, was very pleased to have been selected by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council to participate in its first Early Adopter Program for sustainable tourism destination criteria,” said Timothy O’Donoghue, Teton County’s GSTC Early Adopter Program Coordinator. “The expertise provided by the team and the results of the Early Adopter program’s process have been greatly appreciated by the sustainability stakeholders of Teton County. The findings and recommendations from this process have provided Teton County with a valuable, objective baseline evaluation of our destination’s sustainability programs, policies, and practices, while developing a foundation for moving forward toward greater levels of sustainability.”

“In addition, we felt that we provided valuable feedback on the draft sustainable tourism destination criteria that will contribute to the final version,” he added. “We highly recommend that other destinations wishing to strengthen both the GSTC criteria and their sustainability efforts apply for participation in the GSTC Early Adopter Program.”

In the second round, Sustainable Travel International’s team will once again visit each of the Early Adopter destinations to meet and consult with key stakeholders, including the destination management organization, tourism private sector, and other government agencies.

Destinations interested in becoming an Early Adopter are encouraged to contact as soon as possible for an application. The deadline to apply is January 31, 2013.

The GSTC is also requesting public feedback on the current draft of the criteria, and invites all interested parties to comment on or suggest improvements to the Destination Criteria until February 15, 2013. The survey is available in English and Spanish. These comments, along with feedback received via Early Adopter destinations, will inform a final version of the Destination Criteria.

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