Archive for July, 2011

Thank you very much to those members who have voted! There is still plenty of time for those of you who have yet to cast your ballot!

To cast your ballot log in to the Members Only section (click the big button above with the footprint). Please send an email to if you need your user name or password.

Please take a moment to read the blog posts of our candidates and use the comment section to ask questions or provide support!

Judy Kepher-Gona

Shannon Stowell

Steve Noakes

Dr. Murray Simpson

Santiago Soler

Leilani Latimer

Damian Bell

Jorge de Vicente

Zachary Rabinor

Jorge de Vicente

The mission of promoting sustainable tourism practices around the world is something I have been committed to and lived for over 20 years, as a traveler, a tour leader, an international teacher and now as the Founder and President of an award winning Travel Company working on the ground daily to practice what we preach.  I enthusiastically welcome the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council to create win-win solutions for the many stakeholders involved in tourism: travelers, locals, suppliers, policy makers, and NGOs.

From my first solo travels traversing the Baja peninsula and surfing on remote coastlines to my current reality of on the ground tour operation, I’m always amazed at travel’s ability to transform perspectives and lives in positive and unexpected ways.  While I love travel, I also recognize that mismanaged tourism threatens the amazing places, cultures, and experiences that I treasure.  I firmly believe that we have entered an era of consumer driven markets, where each individual can express their preferences and cast their vote with each purchase they make and each trip they take; the GSTC’s mission is timely and vital to fostering sustainable travel and helping it to serve as a tool towards sustainable development.  While a new wave of environmental consciousness can be seen from Main Street to the board rooms of corporations, specific focus on marketing and promotion to generate demand for sustainable travel as well as training and capacity building on the ground must be included in any sustainable tourism plan – these two areas are often overlooked and sorely lacking in helping sustainable travel fulfill its bright future for all involved.

This is the most exciting piece of this for me, an integrated approach that will align innovative marketing and promotion with on the ground capacity building of local service providers that will help to exceed the expectations of increasingly discerning and demanding clients. In much of the developing world, tourism is one of the only industries where locals enjoy a competitive advantage – it is vital to showcase and differentiate this advantage as well as guaranty the seamless delivery of services on the ground that meet and exceed guests’ expectations.  Throughout my experience I have witnessed and interacted with projects that focus exclusively on sustainability – tourism and travel is an afterthought.  From community based lodges that have turned into grain and potato storage in the high Andes to local networks of trails, that without sufficient visitor volumes have reverted to logging or hunting trails in Oaxaca’s Sierra Norte (to name only a few examples), too often initiatives have ignored the business realities of marketing and promotion that will drive success.  Similarly, the lack of adequate facilities, comfortable lodging, minimal hygiene standards, and service levels leaves today’s travelers looking for other options in today’s world of limitless destinations and travel experiences.  Engaging the private, civil and non-profit sectors to collaboratively catalyze this growing sector is key in fulfilling the promised of sustainability.

Despite our ever shrinking world there are still so many amazing people, places and experiences that await us – I’m committed to helping them be valued, preserved, and protected.  I believe that travel in a conscious and sensitive way with a commitment to customer service can have innumerable benefits for travelers, locals and the planet – it would be an honor and privilege to work to promote sustainable travel as a Board member of the GSTC.



Dear fellow GSTC members:

This is Jorge De Vicente. It was very nice meeting many of you at the GSTC Membership Annual Meeting in Barcelona, Spain. To those of you who could not make it, you missed a wonderful selection of paellas…I still dream of them!!

As a candidate to the GSTC Board, I will very much appreciate your vote.  I do have the passion and the right experience and skill-set to be an effective member of the GSTC Board. If elected, you can be sure I’ll work tirelessly to widen the reach and influence of the GSTC ant to ensure transparency and accountability.

Below is a snapshot of my credentials to help you in your voting decision. if you have any questions, please feel free to forward them to my email address: jorgedevicente (at)

orge presenting at Stanford University's Coastal Tourism Innovators Symposyum, January 2010

Jorge De Vicente is a hands-on, no-nonsense sustainable tourism development specialist based in Washington DC who is not afraid to speak his mind. He has extensive experience advising governments, the private sector, and NGOs in Latin America and the Caribbean. Jorge has worked for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), and the International Ecotourism Society (TIES).

Jorge has been a champion of the GSTC initiative since its inception. Building on the GSTC, Jorge led in  2009 and 2010 the development of the “IDB Tourism Sustainability Scorecard”, an online bilingual tool designed to prioritize public and private sector investments in sustainable tourism projects, as well as evaluate their potential for local economic development and poverty alleviation. Since the Scorecard draws on the GSTC and best tourism sustainability practices, it is in fact applicable to tourism projects anywhere in the world !!

Jorge after a fact finding mission to document unsustainable tourism practices in DR July 2008

Jorge is also  the author of the first comprehensive analysis of the Challenges for Sustainable Tourism in the Dominican Republic. He has also coauthored the report “Alternative development models and best practices for sustainable coastal tourism: A framework for decision-makers in Mexico.” In addition, Jorge has advised Island Outpost, a world-class collection of boutique hotels on business opportunities to link organic, fine cocoa and sustainable tourism in Jamaica.

Jorge likes to practice what he preaches by making sustainable tourism vacation choices as much as I can.

If elected to the GSTC Board, Jorge will work with the other members to make sure we advance the GSTC’s goals and objectives in a transparent and accountable manner. Going forward, I think it’s very important to:

*Engage governments as actively as possible so that their short-term horizons can be reconciled with true sustainable tourism development.
*Make tourism sustainability a priority item on  the international sustainable development agenda (too often, the critical role of tourism to help conservation and alleviate poverty is too readily dismissed by policy makers or simply ignored!!)
*Enhance GSTC’s positioning and brand recognition with tourism stakeholders worldwide.

Last but not least, Jorge is also a member of the Board of, an innovative Spanish social enterprise promoting sustainable tourism choices among Spaniards and other EU citizens.

Jorge holds a B.A. cum laude from Macalester College and a M.A. in International Affairs from The Fletcher School/Tufts University.  He’s fluent in English and Spanish, and proficient in French.  Born in Barcelona, Jorge is a Spanish citizen.

With my kids having breakfast.

Damian Bell July 11th 2011- Arusha, Tanzania. Looking out of my office window from a parched hill, in Arusha facing south to Lokisale and the Maasai steppe, I see what great challenges we all have. This year the rains have failed, the landscape is red and dry already and we are just starting our dry season, how can these wonderful places in Tanzania and elsewhere be a destination for generations to visit and how can the people who live in these places afford to conserve these amazing cultures and natural ecosystems. Tourism has a great potential to provide a means for people to benefit and improve their livelihoods in all sorts of ways if managed properly, but what do we understand is properly, by whom and for whom?  I think this is still being discovered, only in the last 10 years have we seen a massive change in expectations and demands of the tourists.

I see a huge potential for tourism to play a moving role and I would like to help this process along. I do I have few ideas about this, first of all I think we have to make sure that ‘green’ or responsible tourism products are not out of the financial reach of much smaller ‘local’ tourism ventures, that the people who have invested in a tourism product can find out what is required and how to become a responsible tourism supplier and can afford to do so. Then each country or destination will have their needs and particularities, these needs to be identified and this should be their focus, some countries for instance have environmental challenges and others might be more socio-economic. I would like to see that any global standards encourage tourism to engage, look for innovate ways where tourism will play a positive role and engage strategically.  Finally, we have to educate our market and make sure they understand how their holiday can actually be more than just a holiday, where it going on holiday is a great way to conserve our ecosystems and cultures.

I have no formal training at all, I have a practical approach to most things in life, I ran a small family tourism company for over 20 years, never knew anything of ‘eco-tourism’ or ‘responsible tourism’ or any of these things, we just did what we thought had to be done and only looking back over these years I see not so much where we went wrong but more what we could have done better had we known more. I believe that so many of the tourism products or places to stay, see, meet are being run by small, family or community groups, who love what they are doing, have an inner belief on what they are providing but have little chance or opportunities to learn more and know more. GSTC and all organizations that share similar ideals have an opportunity to influence this change.

Leilani Latimer - Tourism for Tomorrow Finalist

We all know the old adage – Information is Power. With broad and global access to information via the internet and the increasing use of social media, we are experiencing a shift in the distribution of information, and hence the distribution of power. Never before have consumers and individuals had more information, and power for positive change at their finger tips.

For those of us who are passionate about travel, and Sustainable Travel, this is excellent news! It’s an evolution in the way people research and purchase travel, and the role of technology and distribution in this transformation is foundational to making that shift complete. As purchasing power shifts, so too must distribution shift, giving suppliers, intermediaries and travel companies the ability to distribute and market Sustainable Travel with clarity and integrity.

My participation with the GSTC dates back to its inception as a partnership focused on the development and launch of the GSTC Criteria. Since then I have become more and more passionate about these global frameworks because they give us opportunities that are limited only to our imagination. In fact, since I began leading the Market Access working group 2 years ago I have experienced numerous “epiphanies” and continue to discover opportunities for broad market application of the GSTC criteria. It will take leadership and focus to be able to define, develop and implement these applications, but if we are successful we will transform our industry in such a way that Sustainable and Responsible Travel will become so evident and palpable that even skeptics will be able to discern (and purchase) a truly Sustainable Travel offering.

Leilani Latimer - Volunteer Day Give Time Solar Day

I am dedicated to progressing the work we have begun at the GSTC and with the Market Access Working Group. During the last year as a Board Member I have successfully brought together different players in our industry – distributors, marketers, suppliers and travel companies (partners and competitors alike), so that we can shape broad market solutions that will contribute to the Sustainable growth and evolution of our industry. I hope to be re-elected to the Board of Directors in order to continue forging positive change within the GSTC at the same pace with which we are transforming and innovating at Sabre as technology providers, marketers and distributors of travel.

Thanks for your voting consideration, and Travel Forever!