Archive for September, 2011

Leilani Latimer - Sabre Holdings, GSTC Board Member and Chair of the Market Access Working Group

By Leilani Latimer,  Sabre Holdings and GSTC Board Member

Today is World Tourism Day – a day dedicated to fostering awareness about the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value – and this year’s theme is “linking cultures”.

“In a global environment marked by rising intolerance and cross-cultural tensions, often exacerbated by the economic divide between nations, tourism can foster spiritual and cultural respect among and between peoples, while creating economic opportunities to benefit disadvantaged populations” – UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon

Sabre is celebrating World Tourism Day by renewing our commitment to the work of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.  We were a founding member of the GSTC and since 2008 have adopted the GSTC criteria as a baseline for our sustainable travel offerings so that we can provide clear, sustainable choices to our customers with integrity and confidence. This global framework is an essential tool for businesses to innovate, increase customer loyalty and compete in today’s fast-paced environment – all whilst protecting our key stakeholders; economies, communities, people and the planet!

“Linking Cultures” is also about celebrating strong partnerships, and along with the Rainforest Alliance – another founding member of the GSTC – Sabre has built a strong partnership dedicated to promoting frameworks for sustainable tourism, and providing education on how to use these standards in product offerings. In fact, our Travelocity® Latin American team recently participated in the Seminar of Sustainable Tourism organized by Rainforest Alliance at Travel Mart Latin America, and will be presenting at the upcoming People, Planet, Peace conference in Costa Rica as well – show-casing Travelocity’s Green Hotels as an example of sustainable travel in action.

This week Sabre will be amongst the presenters at the XIX Inter-American Travel Congress in San Salvador speaking about best practices in Sustainable Tourism as a means for sustainable development in emerging markets. Fostering links between the public and private sectors and driving Corporate Responsibility and Sustainable practices further into our industry is another objective of UNWTO and of our “Better travel, better world” commitment at Sabre, and the GSTC’s vision to “Travel Forever”. Join us … because together we can make the world a better place … one journey at a time!

Amos Bien - Technical Director, GSTC

By Amos Bien, GSTC Technical Director

The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC Criteria) were an enormous step forward when they were launched in 2008. They are a synthesis of more than 20 years’ work, by hundreds of people and institutions from around the world in what sustainability signifies in tourism. Moreover, the great majority of those who worked over that period supported this grand consensus that builds on all the prior work to present a simple, coherent functional set of actions to ensure that tourism approaches sustainability.

The Criteria are not without limitations. This version was aimed towards hotels and tour operators, although most of the criteria represent principles that are applicable to all sectors. They represent the minimum, not the most, that a business should do to move towards sustainability. Of course, as universal principles, they should be adapted to the local conditions wherever they are applied. Each region and industry sector will have its own special conditions that should be addressed in locally-developed criteria that build on the GSTC Criteria. Finally, the version released in 2008 had not been fully tested in the real world, and not all potentially affected parties were reached during the first five rounds of consultation in 2007-8.

During the period from October 2008 through April 2011, comments were collected from the open consultation on the website, as well as additional comments from other interested parties. The International Standards Working Group of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) has been conducting a review process to update the Criteria, taking into account problems that have been recognized in these two years, as well as additional comments from around the world. After compiling and responding to each of the thousands of comments, a new draft version of the GSTC Criteria has been placed online in four languages (English, French, Spanish, and Mandarin) for an additional 60-day public consultation period (ending on October 15 in English, October 31 in French and Spanish, and November 1 in Mandarin). All comments will be read and responded to.

It is very important for us that this consultation reach as many stakeholders — potentially affected parties — in as many regions as possible. Please help us get the word out, so that we can continue to develop a global consensus on sustainable tourism.