[Above: Volcanic craters in the Azores, a credible candidate for the Top 100 list. Photo: Jonathan Tourtellot]
Post updated 2 August 2016.
Nominations have closed for the 2016 Sustainable Destinations Top 100, and an international selection panel is now reviewing the submissions. The winning list is to be announced in conjunction with World Tourism Day and Green Destinations Day on 27 September in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Back when I coordinated National Geographic’s surveys of destination quality, it was always a pleasure to see how the top-ranked places would receive much-deserved media recognition and the advantages that come with an international reputation for authenticity, responsibility, and exemplary management of tourism.
Those annual surveys ran from 2004 to 2010. For the first time since then, well-managed destinations again have a chance to receive that type of holistic recognition, by being named one of the world’s 2016 Sustainable Destinations Top 100.
The Destination Stewardship Center is pleased to join with the Green Destinations group and TravelMole in supporting this global competition, focused on the destinations that best care for their natural and cultural heritage.
You can read more about the process and criteria here. Each continent has an assigned quota that will add up to the Top 100, so destinations are effectively competing for the Best of North America, Best of Africa, etc. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eligibility: Countries, states, regions, cities, towns, or protected areas are eligible if the following conditions are met:
- An administrative organization, governance structure, or a destination management organization (DMO or DMC) is responsible for tourism destination management and sustainability;
- A destination would usually not be smaller than 50-100 sq km, and not larger than 40,000 sq km.
- Accommodations, single buildings, attractions and theme parks are considered not eligible: eco-lodges may be eligible if they have a recognized and strong stewardship for a large area that is otherwise not managed.
Background: The competition was announced at this year’s ITB travel show in Berlin. A key factor in our enthusiastic decision to participate is the determination that “sustainable” means more than environment, important as that is, but that it must also encompass all the other special attributes of a place: culture, aesthetics, history, society—everything that makes a destination distinctive. We believe this is a logical successor to the Destination Stewardship surveys published in National Geographic Traveler through 2010.
This scope is reflected in the sample criteria that the coordinator for the project, Albert Salman of Green Destinations, put out in a detailed press release on the project:
All destinations with a clear focus on sustainable tourism can apply. Nominated destinations will be selected in a formal procedure by international experts in tourism sustainability and a Selection Panel. Experts will evaluate nominated destinations on 15 criteria. These are the core criteria of the GSTC-Recognized Green Destinations Standard.
A brief overview of the selection criteria (summary titles).:
- A sustainability coordinator is in place
- A sustainable tourism strategy is in place
- Nature is adequately protected
- The use of animals in tourism is controlled
- Landscape and scenery is protected
- Waste water treatment is organised
- Solid waste is monitored, aimed at reduction
- Dependency on fossil fuels is reduced
- Cultural sites and built heritage are protected
- Intangible heritage is protected and respected
- People are protected against exploitation
- The local community is involved in tourism
- Local and sustainable products are promoted
- Health and safety are adequately addressed
- Attention for accessibility of tourism sites
The 2016 Sustainable Destinations Top 100 is an initiative of Green Destinations, Vision on Sustainable Tourism, and the Destination Stewardship Center. They are global players in the promotion of tourism sustainability.
For further questions, contact the Top 100 project coordinator Zainab Turay: email@example.com, or call Esmee Slabbers at the Green Destinations secretariat: +3171 5122900.