Kathleen Pessolano, Director — Strategic Partnerships, Global Sustainable Tourism Council, made her first trip to India recently to talk about how tourism stakeholders can help in making this industry more eco-friendly.
Essentially, sustainable tourism engages everyone in the process – businesses, governments, residents, visitors – to ensure that communities are thriving places for residents to live, and to organise tourism systems in ways that keep communities so.
This was my first visit to India where I participated in the US Consulate’s programme aimed to bring the US and Indian specialists together to share ideas on areas of mutual interest. One of the most pressing challenges in any destination is creating mechanisms for robust and frequent collaboration on decision-making affecting the future of the community. Inclusive cooperation mechanisms are important to make sure wide-ranging community interests are considered in development decisions – from government agencies, businesses and community members – so that these decisions are well-informed.
More and more tour operators are increasingly adopting responsible practices by following the GSTC Criteria
The GSTC sets standards for sustainable tourism. These are recommended policies to engage in tourism responsibly. The GSTC Criteria for tour operators is a resource to guide them in how they can operate more responsibly.
We are seeing more and more tour operators adopting responsible practices, both by following the GSTC Criteria and even pursuing sustainability certification by a GSTC- accredited programme. Transat, for example, a Canadian tour operator, has recently achieved GSTC-accredited certification for sustainability of its operations globally, which is a significant accomplishment.
Additionally, tour operators are working with their suppliers to encourage them to also adopt good practices in keeping with GSTC standards. For example, TUI Group has set a corporate commitment for itself as a global tour operator that 100 per cent of all of the accommodations in its portfolio of operations will be certified to GSTC’s Criteria for Hotels. If all tour operators would examine and align their own operations with the GSTC Criteria for Tour Operators, we will see results at scale.