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This past weekend, people and organizations all across the globe celebrated World Tourism Day. While this day comes and goes every year, this year it carried a different meaning.

Though the pandemic has turned tourism upside, we know that our industry is resilient and we are hopeful for the future. This World Tourism Day, we are at a turning point. As global tourism begins to rebuild, it gives us an opportunity to rethink the future of tourism and work towards a tomorrow where destinations come first.

What we've learned from you

An ambition for collaborative transformation is exactly why the Future of Tourism Coalition came together. We know that each and every one of you is on your own sustainability journey and we are here to support you. But while we have the tools and expertise, you know your challenges and aspirations best. 

That’s why we’ve spent the past few months listening to feedback provided by our 300+ signatories to gain a better understanding of where you are at, where you want to go, and how we can best help you to get there. Along with reviewing the information provided in the signatory surveys, we spent the past week holding a series of discussions with signatories. These in-depth conversations provided further insights into your needs and priorities, and will help shape our path forward.

While we are still analyzing the results from this collective research, we wanted to share a few observations that resonated with us so far:

  • Destinations and communities: It’s a huge challenge for you to progress further with a destination stewardship approach. Common issues raised were a lack of understanding and awareness, lack of cooperation and collaboration, lack of monitoring tools and metrics, and difficulty identifying the right balance between quantitative and qualitative tourism development.
  • Alignment with our Guiding Principles: You want us to help you make sense of the many and potentially overlapping “commitments” out there. We’re now making connections with other initiatives, to help align our movements and unite us behind a common vision.
  • Bringing you together: There was a strong sense that the Future of Tourism Coalition is an opportunity to create a community of like-minded organizations across geographies and sectors. You want to be able to share experiences, knowledge and guidance, and learn from others.
  • Supporting you: You would like us to bring together our services, tools and guidance so that we can provide more comprehensive and joined-up support, and help you to develop new partnerships and connections. 
  • Advocacy: You want us to move the needle with new ideas, by engaging with stakeholders who are necessary for change, and by promoting the good practice examples out there. 

Where do we go from here?

Our vision is that travel and tourism actually delivers on its promise to be a “force for good,” maximizing benefits for communities and the environment, and acting as a regenerative economic engine. The Future of Tourism Coalition, with your support, intends to lead our sector towards this ambitious but necessary transition. Through radical collaboration, we can unite our sector and those affected by it, and ensure destination communities are at the center of our collective efforts. We are rapidly developing our ideas on “how” to do this, based on your input, and are looking forward to sharing more detail in our next newsletter.

In the news:

  • In this recent podcast, Jeremy Sampson, CEO of the Travel Foundation, talks about the invisible burden that tourism can have on local communities and what this means for the future of sustainable travel.
  • This New York Times article about regenerative travel discusses the potential for travel to benefit destinations and features Gregory Miller, Executive Director of the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST).

Guiding Principles

In our last email, we took a deeper dive into our first Guiding Principle “See the Whole Picture”. With each newsletter, we will continue to share further thoughts and resources around the principles. This issue we’re spotlighting Guiding Principle #2. We invite you to join the conversation on social media by posting what your company or destination is doing to embody this principle using the #FutureofTourism hashtag.
Arrived at by extensive international consultation and cooperation, the GSTC Criteria provide the minimums for protecting destinations and the people who live and work in them. They serve as basic guidelines for destinations and tourism businesses that wish to become more sustainable. The GSTC Criteria indicate what should be done, not how to do it or whether the goal has been achieved. Performance indicators help do that, along with educational materials, tools for implementation, and help from numerous NGOs and private businesses who specialize in sustainability and improved destination stewardship. The GSTC Criteria constitute the basis for sustainability certification, which can help travelers identify sound sustainable tourism destinations.

A real-life example: Vail, Colorado has been certified as a sustainable destination in adherence with the GSTC Criteria for destinations (by a GSTC-Accredited certifying body, Green Destinations). As part of their strategy to ingrain sustainability at all layers of the destination, Vail developed Actively Green, a business training and certification program that helps local businesses incorporate best practices, such as energy efficiency, reducing waste, and educating guests. Learn More

Further resources:
The Future of Tourism Coalition is a collaborative effort to chart a new, more sustainable direction for tourism and shift the status quo. The Coalition is pursuing a shared global mission: to place destination needs at the center of tourism’s new future. Through the commitment of their Guiding Principles, the greater travel industry and destination agencies can align around a path forward for a more sustainable future for tourism.  
Coalition Advisor: The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) 
Copyright © Future of Tourism Coalition. 

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The Future of Tourism Coalition · C/O The Travel Foundation, The Create Centre · Smeaton Road · Bristol, Avon BS1 6XN · United Kingdom

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