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Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Celebrates World Tourism Day

Invites the Travel Industry to Join and Support the Council's Work to Help Drive Conservation and Poverty Alleviation Worldwide

 
PRLog - Sep. 26, 2011 - WASHINGTON, DC, – The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC - http://new.gstcouncil.org/programs), a multi-stakeholder initiative dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism practices around the world, is inviting destinations, tour operators, not-for-profit organizations, and travel professionals to join the organization and celebrate World Tourism Day (http://wtd.unwto.org/en) on Tuesday, September 27.

Established under the leadership of the United Nations (UN World Tourism Organization, UN Environment Programme, and the UN Foundation), the GSTC, through the GSTC Criteria, seeks to support countries in their efforts to green their economies and help corporations develop greener business models. The organization is currently active in Africa, the Americas, Middle East, and East Asia.

“The GSTC and its growing membership continues to make significant progress, and we hope World Tourism Day will be a moment when all those involved in tourism commit to act in ways that are conscious and respectful of environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development,” says Erika Harms, Executive Director of the GSTC, echoing statements from Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary-General. The theme for World Tourism Day 2011 is Tourism: Linking Cultures.

Through the GSTC, tourism stakeholders can support action on sustainability issues, contribute to the GSTC, extend their networks to work with other like-minded companies and organizations, and enjoy a competitive advantage over those who are slower to recognize the benefits of sustainability practices. GSTC membership is open to all travel and tourism companies, organizations, or individuals interested in sustainable travel. Joining the GSTC is a very important step, and information about membership can be found at www.gstcouncil.org.

The UNWTO forecasts the total number of tourists to surpass 1.6 Billion by the year 2020. In 2009 international tourist arrivals were estimated at 880 million, generating over 235 million jobs. Developing countries receive approximately 30% of all global tourism expenditures.  

GSTC programs include international standards recognition, market access development, development of education and online training materials and revision of the current Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria.

Available at http://new.gstcouncil.org/resource-center/gstc-criteria, the Criteria were developed by the Partnership (GSTC Partnership), a coalition of 27 organizations that includes tourism leaders from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.  The Criteria, based on thousands of best practices culled from the existing standards currently in use around the world, focus on four areas experts recommend as the most critical aspects of sustainable tourism:  maximizing tourism's social and economic benefits to local communities; reducing negative impacts on cultural heritage; reducing harm to local environments; and planning for sustainability. The GSTC Partnership is developing educational materials and technical tools to guide hotels and tour operators in implementing the criteria.

More than 170 US cities have already adopted the GSTC Criteria including San Francisco, Miami, Maui, and Los Angeles.

Established in 1980 the purpose of World Tourism Day is to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. The event seeks to address global challenges outlined in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to highlight the contribution the tourism sector can make in reaching these goals.

The timing of World Tourism Day is particularly appropriate, as it is celebrated at the end of the high season in the northern hemisphere and the beginning of the season in the southern hemisphere, when tourism is on the minds of millions of people worldwide.

Tomorrow at 7:00pm EST, Ms. Harms will speak and present at an event at Toronto’s Winter Garden Theatre. David Suzuki will deliver a special video message, and additional speakers include: Megan Epler Wood, Executive Director of Planeterra and Founder of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES); travel blogger Gary Arndt; and Bruce Poon Tip, Founder of Gap Adventures, who is hosting the event.

Founding members of the GSTC include: UN Foundation, UN Environment Programme, World Tourism Organization, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, Sabre Holdings, Travelocity, Ecotourism Australia, TIES, Rainforest Alliance, and Gap Adventures/Planeterra.

About the Global Sustainable Tourism Council
The GSTC was established under the leadership umbrella of the United Nations [UNEP, UNWTO and UNF] and is part of the International Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Tourism Development which seeks to assist countries in their efforts to green their economies; help corporations develop greener business models; and encourage consumers to adopt more sustainable lifestyles.

Contact:

Janice Lichtenwaldt, GSTC Communications Director / +1 206 406 6052 /
janicel@unfoundation.org

Widness & Wiggins PR
Dave Wiggins / 303-554-8821 / dave@travelnewssource.com

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Established in April 2007, Widness & Wiggins PR offers an affordable yet personalized media contact and communications strategy expressly designed for adventure, eco and active travel industry clients.

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