We’d like to think that we live our lives and travel according to a set of values, key among them respect — respect for other cultures, respect for the environment and respect for the complexities and nuances of the economic realities that face a growing planet. Until now, we just never labeled those values or the behaviors attached to them as “sustainable.”
So why are you telling us this now?
We are pleased to announce that we have been retained by the United Nations Foundation's Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) to develop and execute their social media strategy. And if you're thinking that sustainable tourism is just about being eco-friendly, think again. The GSTC views sustainability in tourism more broadly as “maximizing social and economic benefits to the local community; reduction of negative impacts to cultural heritage; and reduction of negative impacts on the environment.”
So, what does the GSTC do to accomplish this mission?
Among other things, the GSTC publishes a universal set of language and criteria that aim to “protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources while ensuring tourism meets its potential as a tool for conservation and poverty alleviation.”
Wow, that's a mouthful! Maybe you're thinking, “Sounds great so far, but how exactly does a set of criteria help do that?”
It does this in two directions.
First and foremost, tourism companies and destinations can follow the GSTC criteria and then be certified by a third party. This in itself is a good thing. Secondly, certification enables travel consumers to sift more easily through a sea of companies offering services that are “sustainable” and “eco-friendly” and to know which are the real deal and which are greenwashed.
Given our values here at Uncornered Market, our approach to travel and the focus of our blog, we see this cooperation as a natural fit. We look forward to continuing the conversation, helping to advance the issues of sustainable tourism and evolving the discourse from the theoretical to the applied. We are also excited to promote the idea that an increased awareness and understanding of sustainability can translate into individual actions that register a measurable cumulative effect.
As stewards of the GSTC social media channels, we plan to build a stream of high quality content on the topic of sustainable tourism that further encourages discourse, awareness and action. If you have an interest in sustainable tourism or you'd like to learn more about travel organizations and companies that are actively applying these principles, we encourage you to follow GSTC on Twitter and Facebook.
For those of you already active and engaged in the sustainable tourism community, we invite you to share with us through the GSTC channels your experiences, initiatives, and impressions.
Travel well. Travel forever. We look forward to continuing the sustainable tourism conversation with you!