The Partnership for Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC Partnership), a coalition of 32 organizations is working together to create an increased understanding of sustainable tourism practices and pushing for the adoption of universal sustainable tourism principles.
Recently, Erika Harms, the Executive Director of UN Foundation and a key figure behind the global movement for sustainable tourism criteria and certification, spoke at a conference in Berlin about the importance of sustainable tourism.
According to Harms, sustainable tourism is not a luxury; rather, it is a necessity, just like health and quality of life. Based on her work with the UN Foundation (and excluding environmental impacts), Harms believes that there are two ways in which responsible business practices have directly improved the bottom line of the tourism industry. Improving the livelihoods of the local communities means that these sites will continue to attract tourists. Additionally, consumers are continually becoming more savvy in their quest to find new travel opportunities. As consumers share their concerns about local villages and communities, businesses sharing these same ideas will see – and have already seen – big increases in tourism to these areas.
As far as the future, the most pressing issue is climate change, but both Harms and the UN Foundation believe that there also needs to be a focus on the management of finite natural resources. Figuring out the best way to use resources while minimizing waste and increasing efficiency will result in economic gain. These measures can also help address poverty to ensure economic well being, health and prosperity to all – the fundamentals with which our country was established.
Harms even predicts that by 2020, the word “sustainability” will be part of the nature of business, just like quality and health – for both big business and the travel industry alike. While this is certainly a lofty goal for Harms and her cohorts, it seems hard to believe that big business will be conducting itself differently in just 10 years’ time.
[via Travel Mole ]
Contributed by Heather Berkowitz