About Jonathan Tourtellot

CEO, Destination Stewardship Center; Editor, Destination Stewardship Report; Principal, Focus on Places LLC; founding Director, former Nat Geo Center for Sustainable Destinations

Changes at the Destination Stewardship Report

The Summer (Q3) 2022 issue marking the third year of the Destination Stewardship Report has just been emailed, with the usual array of fascinating stories of ways to improve destination stewardship. We have useful lessons and examples from Malaysia, Greece, Brazil, and North Carolina, USA, as well insights on how to do a stewardship-focused video campaign and on why engaging tourism businesses is so important for a destination to achieve sustainability. Plus Events, Bookshelf, Announcements, and excerpts from our own Destination Monitor. You can see the whole issue, as emailed HERE.

For the first time, an Editor’s Note leads off the publication:

It’s Our Third Year, Time To Evaluate

When Randy Durband, CEO of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, and I decided to launch the Destination Stewardship Report in 2020 as a joint project between GSTC and the Destination Stewardship Center, I agreed to edit it for a year. That was two years ago. Since then, CREST (Center for Responsible Travel), has joined us as a third partner. Almost a thousand practitioners now subscribe. An updated DS Report archive page hot-links all 55 feature stories that we have published so far. Check them out!

Now I must step back as primary editor, staying on just in an executive advisory role. I will still welcome your story ideas and help steer the course of the Report. CREST’s capable Alix Collins is handling much of my workload, as is indefatigable former DSC volunteer Tiffany Chan, now working for GSTC. DSC volunteers including Gabe Gerson (photos), Siobhán Daly (Bookshelf and Monitor), and many others who help immeasurably.

Subscribers, let us know what you think!  In the Summer issue you’ll find the link to a 3-minute survey under this Note. Tell us how we can make the DS Report better. Are we serving your needs? What can we improve, given a budget of, well, zero? Your guidance and ideas are welcome as we all determine what to keep and what to change in issues to come.

GSTC, CREST, and the Destination Stewardship Center will be working out the future course of the Destination Stewardship Report with a collaborative editorial team and your own feedback and, we hope, occasional contributions. Thank you. — Jonathan Tourtellot

Winter Issue of the Destination Stewardship Report Released

The new Destination Stewardship Report (2022 Q1 Vol.2, No. 3) includes some excellent changes. You’ll see a freshened design, courtesy of GSTC’s Tiffany Chan. The Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) has now joined the DSR partnership, and CREST’s Ellen Rugh has provided immeasurable editorial help.

Articles in this issue include the eighth in our series profiling places with effective approaches toward achieving the destination stewardship council model: Snæfellsnes, Iceland. Tim O’Donoghue provides a multi-year journal of what took to bring Jackson Hole Wyoming, USA to certified status. We have a community-tourism success story from Jeju Island, Korea, and two more from Green Destinations’ Top 100, one in Peru and one in Bosnia. And your editor provides a review of the New York Times’s selection of 52 “Places for a Changed  World,” an encouraging mass-media panorama of enlightened stewardship as part of the travel picture. Plus our usual service elements. Please enjoy this issue, please comment, and please consider contributing a story or an opinion.

Autumn 2021 Destination Stewardship Report Is Out

The Autumn (4Q) edition of the Destination Stewardship Report, released in early November, includes articles from Italy, Sweden, Vanuatu, two from India, and a couple more – one in Tunisia, and one in Germany – selected from the 2021 Top 100 destination stewardship competition. Plus new publications, news links, and upcoming events and webinars. Please comment and consider contributing your articles or opinion columns. For a look at all D.S. Reports, go here.

—Jonathan Tourtellot, Editor, Destination Stewardship Report

Sign Up for the Glasgow Declaration!

The Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism is a global initiative launching on 4 November at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. The Glasgow Declaration aims to act as a catalyst for accelerating climate action in tourism. Organizations signing up to the Declaration commit to acting to cut tourism emissions at least in half over the next decade and reach net zero as soon as possible before 2050.

The committee that drafted the Declaration included the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, the UN Environment Programme, VisitScotland Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency, and the Travel Foundation (representing the Future of Tourism Coalition). The Declaration builds on the Tourism Declares initiative begun in January 2020 and the work done since then.

Sign Up Now!

The online form for the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism is now live. Be among the first to show your commitment to a decade of climate action. Organisations that sign up by 2 November, can be listed as Launch Partners at the launch at COP26 on 4 November (the launch event will be livestreamed – details here).

Of course if you cannot complete the form by this time we still urge you to do so as soon as possible, so we can demonstrate the urgency and momentum behind climate action in tourism. For more information, see these Frequently Asked QuestionsThe online form is available at https://www.oneplanetnetwork.org/sustainable-tourism/become-signatory-glasgow-declaration

The Declaration follows:

THE GLASGOW DECLARATION: 

A COMMITMENT TO A DECADE OF TOURISM CLIMATE ACTION

We have long known that our dependence on fossil fuels, unsustainable land use, and wasteful consumption patterns drive climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss. Recently, COVID-19 has deepened our awareness of the connection between these impacts and risks to human health.

Rebalancing our relationship with nature is critical to regenerating both its ecological health and our personal, social and economic well-being. It is also critical for tourism, which relies on and connects us with flourishing ecosystems. Restoring nature – and our relationship with it will be key to our sector’s recovery from the pandemic, as well as its future prosperity and resilience.

We declare our shared commitment to unite all stakeholders in transforming tourism to deliver effective climate action. We support the global commitment to halve emissions by 2030 and reach Net Zero as soon as possible before 2050. We will consistently align our actions with the latest scientific recommendations, so as to ensure our approach remains consistent with a rise of no more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

According to the latest UNWTO/ITF research, tourism CO2 emissions grew at least 60% from 2005 to 2016, with transport-related CO2 causing 5% of global emissions in 2016. Unless we accelerate decarbonisation, sector CO2 emissions could rise 25% or more by 2030, compared to 2016.

As outlined in the One Planet Vision for a Responsible Recovery of Tourism from COVID-19, committing to and planning for a green recovery offers us a unique opportunity to transform the sector in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. If we can move rapidly away from carbon- and material-intensive ways of delivering visitor experiences, instead prioritising community and ecosystem wellbeing, then tourism can be a leader in transforming to a low-carbon future.

The alternative is worsening vulnerability. Climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss jeopardise most tourism activities. Rising sea-levels, more frequent floods, and other extreme weather events threaten community livelihoods everywhere, from infrastructure and supply chains to food security.

Climate change impacts are most severely felt by under-represented and vulnerable groups such as women, Indigenous communities, people living with disabilities, and small island states. A just and inclusive transformation of tourism must prioritise their voices and needs, as well as those of younger generations who will otherwise pay the full price of our inaction.

A just transition to Net Zero before 2050 will only be possible if tourism’s recovery accelerates the adoption of sustainable consumption and production, and redefines our future success to consider not only economic value but rather the regeneration of ecosystems, biodiversity and communities.

A Co-ordinated Plan for Tourism Climate Action

This declaration aims to lead and align climate action across tourism stakeholders, including government and institutional agencies; donors and financial institutions; international organisations; civil society; the private sector; and academia.

As signatories we commit to deliver climate action plans within 12 months of signing and implementing them accordingly. 

If we already have plans, we commit to updating or implementing them in the same period to align with this declaration. 

We commit to report publicly both progress against interim and long-term targets, as well as the actions being taken, at least annually. 

To ensure climate action is aligned across all of tourism, we agree on five shared pathways for our plans to follow: 

Measure: Measure and disclose all travel and tourism-related emissions. Ensure our methodologies and tools are aligned to UNFCCC-relevant guidelines on measurement, reporting and verification, and that they are transparent and accessible.

Decarbonise: Set and deliver targets aligned with climate science to accelerate tourism’s decarbonisation. This includes transport, infrastructure, accommodation, activities, food & drink, and waste management. While offsetting may have a subsidiary role, it must be complementary to real reductions.

Regenerate: Restore and protect ecosystems, supporting nature’s ability to draw down carbon, as well as safeguarding biodiversity, food security, and water supply. As much of tourism is based in regions most immediately vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, ensure the sector can support affected and at-risk communities in resilience building, adaptation and disaster response. Help visitors and host communities experience better balance with nature.

Collaborate: Share evidence of risks and solutions with all stakeholders and our guests, and work together to ensure our plans are as effective and co-ordinated as possible. Strengthen governance and capacity for action at all levels, including national and sub-national authorities, civil society, large companies and SMEs, vulnerable groups, local communities and visitors.

Finance: Ensure organisational resources and capacity are sufficient to meet objectives set out in climate plans, including the financing of training, research and implementation of effective fiscal and policy tools where appropriate to accelerate transition.

We commit to deliver plans aligned with these pathways to cut tourism emissions in half over the next decade and reach Net Zero emissions as soon as possible before 2050.

Summer 2021 Destination Stewardship Report Is Out

[Above: The Pennsylvania Wilds. Photo: Ellen Rugh.]

The Summer (3Q) edition of the Destination Stewardship Reportwas released on 28 July 2021, beginning the DSR’s second year of online publication as a joint project with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. This issue includes articles from Vermont, Palau, Pennsylvania, and two from Chile, plus reports on two webinars, a set of resources for tourism recovery, new publications, news links, and upcoming events and webinars.

Topics range from overtourism avoidance and localizing supply chains to sustainable regional planning and collaboration, along with a human-to-human tourism approach and better conservation awareness.

To see the stories in this issue exactly as they appear in your in-box, go to: https://destinationcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Summer-2021-1.0.html You can subscribe for free here.

Spring 2021 Destination Stewardship Report Just Out

Longest Destination Stewardship Report Yet

On 14 April 2021 we were pleased to send out the Spring (2Q) edition of the Destination Stewardship Report, completing its first year of online publication as a joint project with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. You can subscribe for free hereStories in this issue:

  • The Nisga’a Offer an Indigenous Tourism Model – How to present an indigenous culture “written in the land” to tourists? Bert Mercer, economic development manager for Nisg̱a’a Lisims Government, describes the process of tying together a culturally sensitive tourism experience for visitors to the Nisga’a First Nation in British Columbia, Canada.
  • Saving Cultural Heritage: The Singapore Hawkers Case – Drives for sustainability may sometimes overlook the endangered arts and traditions that make a place and a culture come to life. The World Tourism Association for Culture & Heritage (WTACH) aims to rectify that. In Singapore, Chris Flynn, WTACH’s CEO, discusses a particularly delicious case – one recently recognized by UNESCO.
  • Doing It Better: Sedona, Arizona – Prompted by a restive citizenry and a responsive city council, the DMO for the city of Sedona, Arizona, USA, now acts in effect as a destination stewardship council. That’s unusual. For part of our ongoing project to profile places with effective, holistic management, Sarah-Jane Johnson takes a deep dive into Sedona’s story. This is the sixth in the Destination Stewardship Center’s profiles of exemplary places with collaborative destination management in the spirit of GSTC’s Destination Criterion A1.
  • Japan’s Journey Toward Sustainability –  It’s a tall order for a large country to change its national policy and commit to improving stewardship for hundreds of its tourism destinations, but Japan is taking tentative steps in that direction, spurred on by one young official and a lot of collaborators. GSTC’s Emi Kaiwa reports on how this tentative change of heart came about, what’s happened to date, and how far it has to go.
  • Once Overrun, Dubrovnik Plans for Sustainability – Dubrovnik, Croatia, a UNESCO World Heritage city, is known as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic Sea’, its historic city center surrounded by original medieval stone walls – and until recently, thronged with cruise ship passengers. In 2017, that began to change.
  • Opinion: A Chance to Tame Cruise Tourism – Cruise critic Ross Klein argues that now is the time for port cities to gain control of cruise tourism crowds, explaining three ways to do that – and why it won’t be easy. But if not now, when?
  • Report: “Reset Tourism” Webinar Series – Destination Stewardship – Held on 25 March 2021, the first webinar of the Future of Tourism Coalition‘s four-part “Reset Tourism” series drew 500 registrants. These webinars are intended to help destinations emerge from the Covid crisis with new forms of governance and collaboration that will enable a more holistic and sustainable approach to tourism management and development.
  • Webinar Report: Measuring Destination Happiness – A massive webinar to mark last month’s “International Day of Happiness” yielded some serious pointers for destinations seeking a broader measure of successful tourism recovery than counting revenue and arrivals.“Covid has shown us we can’t be happy on an unhappy planet” was one message for destinations around the world, report DSC associates Marta Mills and Chi Lo – the point being that local contentment should be part of the tourism equation: “A good place to live is a good place to visit.”
  • New App to Assess Sustainability of Tourism Communities – Assessing the sustainability of destinations and acting on the findings can be a complex, expensive task. Dave Randle explains the workings of a new app that his Blue Community Consortium underwrote to assist with that process. Some university students gave the app’s first step, assessment, a revealing field test on seven Florida destinations. Here’s what the app does, and what the students found.

To read these stories plus information on announcements, upcoming events and webinars, and publications, go to the Spring (2Q) edition of the Destination Stewardship Report. And please comment!                       — Jonathan Tourtellot, Editor

Just Out: Winter 2021 Destination Stewardship Report

The third issue of the DSC/GSTC e-quarterly Destination Stewardship Report, Winter 2021, mailed out on 4 February. To get the next e-mail issue, subscribe for free. You can read the following feature stories in this issue live online HERE, with links to these feature stories:

The Riviera Maya’s Queen of Green: What She’s Learned Mexican activist Beatriz Barreal has worked for years to steer the booming Riviera Maya toward sustainability. Purdue’s Dr. Jonathon Day recently interviewed this one-woman force for improving stewardship to find out what lessons she has learned in the process.

Even in Affluent Norway, Innkeepers Have Struggled Pandemic closures have left the lodges of the fjords flirting with failure. Arild Molstad reports on one couple who – “showing true viking spirit and eco-courage” – believe they can beat the odds by going greener still. Their story holds a lesson for all destinations.

Doing It Better: ≠Khoadi-//Hôas, Namibia Namibia’s award-winning ≠Khoadi-//Hôas conservancy has often been cited as a success story in both conservation and community benefit. As part of our ongoing project to profile places with effective, holistic management. Our editor, Jonathan Tourtellot, takes a tourist-eye view of this community-run destination. This is the fifth in the Destination Stewardship Center’s series on collaborative destination management in the spirit of GSTC’s Destination Criterion A1.

Overtourism and Undertourism Ecotourism specialist Dr. Anna Spenceley has been thinking a lot about the issue of visitor management and overcrowding, limits of acceptable change, and carrying capacity in protected areas. So she wrote a report about it for the World Bank:Tools for Protected Areas.

For some tools in action, read A Taiwanese Island Boosts Tourist Capacity – Sustainably. For 20 years, ecotourists have been eager to tour a biodiverse volcanic island off the coast of Taiwan. But what happens when both locals and tourists complain about the stringent conservation limits on visitation set by government and academics? Monique Chen explains how stakeholders have harmonized ecological carrying capacity and local economics.

Neolocalism and Tourism Much tourism depends on sense of place, but unchallenged market forces often favor lookalike franchises over more distinctive local businesses. Dr. Christina Cavaliere has co-edited a new multi-author book that makes the case for neolocalism, a movement through which businesses can help destinations retain and deepen their identities, and which also supports Covid recovery. She summarizes the book’s contents.

See the e-mailed version of the Destination Stewardship Report for additional information:

  • Announcements, including events (online during the pandemic)
  • Publications
  • Upcoming webinars

Destination Stewardship Report is an e-mailed quarterly collaboration between the Global Sustainable Tourism Council  and the Destination Stewardship Center. You can read previous issues here:
   Autumn 2020
   Summer 2020 – Inaugural Issue

Note: If you use Gmail, look for your e-mailed copy where Google insultingly files it: in its “Promotions” folder. Despite our efforts, other services may also trap it in a spam folder.

Sustainable Top 100 Destinations – 2020 Winners

[Above: Vista of the #Khoadi-//Hoas Conservancy, Namibia, a Top 100 winner. Photo: Jonathan Tourtellot]

Europe Dominates the Competition

Albert Salman’s Netherlands-based Green Destinations group has released this year’s list of places the won a spot in the annual Sustainable Top 100 Destinations competition. Destinations must submit an application or nomination that meets 30 core criteria and which is then reviewed by sustainability experts. Destinations from 36 countries made the grade this year. As before, Europe looms large among the winners, with numerous Dutch, Slovenian, and Portuguese places dominating the selections. Estonia and Spain are also well represented. Beyond Europe, Brazil and Japan can each claim half a dozen or more destinations on the list as well. Most other countries had three or fewer winners, and of course many countries had no winners at all.

It’s important to note that the Top 100 is a vetted competition, not a rating of all the world’s destinations. The geographical imbalance may reflect a higher degree of effort in making nominations, as well as the presence of systemic multi-destination sustainability programs in countries such as Slovenia. After all, many European places do take better care of themselves than some other parts of the world. (The rest of the world should consider that a challenge. The rest of Europe, too.) The press release also adds, “The Top 100 committee stresses that selection for the Top 100 list does not mean the destination is sustainable. It means it is making good efforts and promising progress. Completely sustainable destinations do not exist.”

Well, not yet anyway.

 

 

Just Out: the Autumn Destination Stewardship Report

Welcome to the GSTC/DSC
e-quarterly
Destination Stewardship Report Autumn 2020
Summer 2020 – Inaugural Issue

How can destinations plan better for a post-Covid recovery? What have we learned about tourism during the ongoing crisis? The Autumn edition of the Destination Stewardship Report addresses both those questions with examples and practical guidance, providing links to these feature stories:

  • From sustainability leaders and destination mangers worldwide, a white paper laying out ten practical ways to plan a more lasting, regenerative, and community-compatible tourism recovery.
  • From Korea, the example of how a hard-working industrial city saved a natural bamboo habitat for migrating egrets, creating a new ecotourism attraction that revitalized the impoverished neighborhood next door.
  • From Serbia, its borders closed during the crisis, a look at what happens when a sudden influx of resort-pampered Serbs discover their own hinterland: lots of profits for rural residents – at a cost. [One anecdote reports a similar pattern in the US state of New Hampshire over the summer.  —Ed.]
  • From Mallorca, Spain, plans that attempt to anticipate and prevent overtourism as travel restrictions loosen, with mixed opinions on the likelihood of success.
  • From the Columbia Gorge, USA, the fourth in our series of “Doing It Better” profiles about destinations working toward holistic management – in this case, a tourism alliance that unites the two states bordering the Columbia River.
  • From another thought leader, a better way to calculate return on investment as destinations emerge from the crisis, demonstrating that by using data science you can measure the hidden benefits of good stewardship. “Not everything that counts is counted,” goes the saying, but now it can be – affecting policy accordingly.
  • Plus, selected news stories and the latest on the Future of Tourism Coalition, which now has over 300 companies, agencies, and NGOs as signatories to its Guiding Principles.

Please read the latest Destination Stewardship Report here, comment, and propose your own contributions by contacting us.


This jointly sponsored e-quarterly is a collaboration between the Destination Stewardship Center and Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)  – and in time, maybe others. Our goal is to provide information and insights useful to anyone whose work or interests involve destination stewardship. It’s an all-volunteer experiment, so its success will depend on your interest, feedback, and content contributions. Join us, and help each other. You can subscribe for free here.You can read the e-mail version here and the feature articles on our webpages.                                    —Jonathan Tourtellot, Editor

For more information and participation please contact us.

  • About  the Global Sustainable Tourism Council  GSTC establishes and manages global sustainable standards, known as the GSTC Criteria. There are two sets: Destination Criteria for public policy-makers and destination managers, and Industry Criteria for hotels and tour operators. The GSTC Criteria form the foundation for accreditation of certification bodies that certify hotels/accommodations, tour operators, and destinations as having sustainable policies and practices in place. GSTC does not directly certify any products or services; but it accredits those that do. The GSTC is an independent and neutral USA-registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization that represents a diverse and global membership, including national and provincial governments, NGO’s, leading travel companies, hotels, tour operators, individuals and communities – all striving to achieve best practices in sustainable tourism. www.gstc.org
  • About the Destination Stewardship Center  The DSC is a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the world’s distinctive places by supporting wisely managed tourism and enlightened destination stewardship. We gather and provide information on how tourism can help and not harm the natural, cultural, and social quality of destinations around the world. We seek to build a global community and knowledge network for advancing this goal. Join us and learn more at www.destinationcenter.org.