Tuesday, 22 May, 2012 12:34
This past April, SITC (Saló Internacional del Turisme a Catalunya) in Barcelona hosted, for the first time,
The Smart Destinations Forum, a seminar exclusively dedicated to Sustainable Tourism. GSTC Executive Director, Erika Harms, joined other responsible travel leaders in a discussion regarding What Smart Destinations can do in order to become competitive. The goal was to share experiences and come up with new initiatives to promote “smart” destinations by incorporating innovative technology and sustainability.
There is no question that tourism is a top economic sector in the world, but with the many benefits that it can bring to an area (development, resources, jobs) it can cause just as much harm (destroying heritage, land, local values and nature). Consequently, all destinations must think about how to incorporate sustainable technology into their cultural, economic, environmental, social, administrative and political systems. Increased sustainability for destinations also means an extraordinary opportunity for many activity sectors, such as construction, water, energy, mobility, waste and marketing.
The city of Barcelona, where the SITC is held, is no stranger to these concepts. In 2011 Barcelona was awarded the first Biosphere World Class Sustainable Destination certification by the Responsible Tourism Institute, granting it the title of the first city in the world to be a certified sustainable urban destination.
The GSTC Criteria for Destinations was designed as an effort to come to a common understanding of sustainable destinations, and are the minimum that any tourism management organization which wishes to be sustainable should aspire to reach. With these guidelines and through the work of our Early Adopters Program the GSTC hopes that more tourism destinations will (i) demonstrate sustainable destination management; (ii) maximize social and economic benefits for the host community and minimize negative impacts; (iii) maximize benefits to communities, visitors and cultural heritage and minimize impacts; and (iv) maximize benefits to the environment and minimize negative impacts.