In the sustainable tourism field, a fundamental aphorism definitely applies: "Think globally, act locally."
That is one reason we asked the Global Sustainable Tourism Council to assess Park City last summer as a first step in developing a Sustainable Tourism Plan. The leading authority on the matter, the GSTC measured us against 38 metrics, providing an excellent sense of our strengths and weaknesses as a starting point. We were fortunate that nationally-known sustainability expert Dr. Kelly Bricker – then Chair of the U of U Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism and now at the ASU Center for Sustainability - was available to lead the project.
Now, just weeks away from the public unveiling of the Plan to the Park City and Summit County councils, I am happy to announce the Chamber/Bureau has taken another critical step - becoming an official GSTC member organization.
The decision was relatively easy – joining the GSTC will benefit PC's sustainability efforts for years. So today, I want to introduce you to our newest partner in advancing sustainable tourism locally while contributing globally.
The GSTC is an international nonprofit that defines and measures global standards for sustainable travel and tourism. It was founded partly to develop a shared worldwide language on the subject and adopt universal sustainable tourism principles. Their diverse worldwide membership includes government tourism agencies from Auckland to Austria, Berlin to the Bahamas, and leading travel companies, communities, hotels, and tour operators striving to achieve sustainable tourism best practices.
The Rainforest Alliance and agencies of the United Nations, including the United Nations World Tourism Organization, founded the GSTC in 2007. American tourism and hospitality leaders were on board from the start. Among the earliest members were the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the American Society of Travel Agents, Conde Nast, Expedia and Hyatt Hotels and Resort. The international response was just as enthusiastic.
In 2013, the GSTC finalized its Destination Criteria, baseline sustainability standards for tourism destinations and a valuable framework for defining local standards. GSTC applied these criteria in assessing us. Three years later, its updated Industry Criteria set out a common meaning of "sustainable tourism" and minimum standards tourism-related businesses should aspire to reach.
One policy that appealed to our Board and the business community is GSTC's promotion of broad marketplace adoption of these criteria. The aim is to increase demand for businesses that offer sustainable travel and tourism while building trust with travelers. For example, GSTC works with online travel agencies to mark GSTC-certified hotels in search results and with travel companies for preferred contracting of certified hotels and tour operators.
GSTC also offers unparalleled entrée to the worldwide network of destinations seeking sustainable solutions, which is constantly growing. For example, just days before the GSTC announced our membership, it welcomed Mauritius's Indian Ocean island country to the fold, a destination for 1.3 million tourists annually. What might we learn from Mauritians? We'll have every opportunity to find out and take lessons from places with years of sustainability work behind them, such as Barcelona, Kenya, Switzerland, Singapore and Norway.
I'm also convinced the quality of thought and planning that Parkites and the state of Utah offer in the realm of climate policy and sustainable destinations will find application in other places. I look forward to sharing what we know as we learn and grow.
Thinking globally and acting locally never felt more apropos.