Managing for sustainability is good management, said Randy Durband, CEO of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). Managing for sustainability takes a long-term view and is better at mitigating risk, he asserted.
Mr Durband delivered a presentation about “Applying Standards to Sustain Experience Delivery” at the Mekong Tourism Investment Summit, July 7, which took place the day after Mekong Tourism Forum 2016.
The challenge for the travel and tourism industry has been in coming up with standards for sustainability using global baselines or benchmarks, he said. The value of such standards would flow into more consistency in training, education, and awareness; more direction in policy-making and legal and regulatory codes; more precision in measurement and evaluation; more clarity for markets and consumers; and more precise criteria for certification.
Sustainable Tourism Standards
GSTC establishes and manages global sustainable tourism standards. At the heart of this work are GSTC’s Sustainability Criteria of which there are two sets: Destination Criteria (GSTC-D) and Hotel & Tour Operator Criteria (GSTC-H&TO).
Mr Durband said these were 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 and meets its potential to alleviate poverty.
Each set of standards has 42 criteria in four pillars: Sustainable Management; Social & Economic; Cultural; and Environmental. All of these, individually and collectively, aim to maximise the good in tourism while minimising the bad.
GSTC’s sustainable tourism standards are designed to be universally applied, Mr Durband said, but local criteria can and should be added if required.
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Presentations from Mekong Tourism Forum 2016 are available for download here.