Last week cable news magnate and United Nations Foundation founder Ted Turner announced the launch of the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC). It"s the first-ever sustainable tourism standards to help guide businesses and consumers to tread more lightly. The new criteria—developed in partnership with the nonprofit Rainforest Alliance along with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)—is based on thousands of best practices culled from different sets of existing standards to ensure that tourism helps rather than harms local communities and the environment.
Available for free at www.SustainableTourismCriteria.org, these guidelines focus on four critical aspects: maximizing tourism’s social and economic benefits to local communities; reducing negative impacts on cultural heritage; reducing harm to local environments; and planning for sustainability.
"Sustainability is just like the old business adage: "You don’t encroach on the principal, you live off the interest’," says Turner. “Unfortunately, up to this point, the travel industry and tourists haven’t had a common framework to let them know if they’re really living up to that maxim. But the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC) will change that. This is a win-win initiative—good for the environment and good for the world’s tourism industry.”