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

September Update, 2023

From the DSC Director: The latest Destination Stewardship Report, Future of Tourism Coalition activities, field report, “destination stewardship” on the rise, and a new DSC website pending.

The northern hemisphere summer is winding down, and there’s a lot to report. During 2023 overtourism has returned with a vengeance, inundating popular destinations from Yosemite to the Acropolis. “Revenge travel” indeed. Our Destination Monitor lists news stories on how places are responding, if at all. I myself was interviewed recently about overtourism by The Economist for its Ocean Initiative.

Many destinations have also suffered weather-related disasters, often exacerbated by climate change. We will shortly be adding a page in our “Stewardship Resources” directories to help with climate-change mitigation and adaptation. Watch this space.

As you may gather from the intermittency of posts on this page, our emphasis has changed from building blog content to building content via the Destination Stewardship Report, helped along by our DSR partners at CREST (Center for Responsible Travel) and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council – special thanks to Alix Collins and Tiffany Chan respectively.

The Summer issue includes Mike Robbins’s uplifting story about the Indigenous Guardians of the B.C. coast, a GSTC conversation on the Bahamas’ move toward destination stewardship, and Cheryl Hargrove’s observations on the need for preserving living culture in a UNESCO World Heritage city. And more.

Be sure to check out our archive of more than 60 DSR articles, all dedicated to improving the interaction between tourism and care for places. The next DSR issue is in preparation now, and as always we welcome article proposals and volunteer help with research, editing, and proofreading. Thanks to the many of you who have contributed so far! Keep an eye on the Destination Stewardship Report for upcoming events pertaining to our topic, and be sure to send in notice of your own.

The Future of Tourism Coalition  – the Destination Stewardship Center is of its six founding members – has also been a center of activity with an assortment of meetings and webinars and a series of useful stories linked to the Coalition’s 13 Guiding Principles. The Coalition’s Community of some 750 globe-girdling signatories to those principles has proved to be a bountiful source of instructional success stories. Members can sign in to explore a new toolkit of resources for helping destinations.  Your organization can join the Community by endorsing the Principles.

Encouragingly, we are seeing increased use of the “destination stewardship” term in North America – and of course occasional misuse. See our Mission page for a definition. Regardless, its good to know we are all making a difference!

As for work in the field, I myself have been helping Beaver Valley, Ontario, Canada with their initial steps in starting a destination stewardship council, as well as similar work in my divided home county of Loudoun, Virginia. Divided because the county’s suburban east holds political power over the horse-and-wine country of the west, so the government’s will to protect that cultural landscape depends on the perceived value of rural tourism. Both destinations are fighting invasive residential subdivisions. We need more techniques for responding to this ubiquitous problem.

Last, we are in the process of a massive website redesign under the guidance of webmaster Tim Greenleaf. Our growing knowledge center holds more than 200 pages of content and hundreds of images, so he has a big job. You may see some missing photos, or bad links, etc. from time to time as this work proceeds. Feel free to call them to our attention. We hope to complete the transition before the next issue of the Destination Stewardship Report emails by early November.

Meanwhile, consider volunteering with us. Change is beginning to happen as more people around the world become more aware of the dangers to the places they love. And when those people speak, governments listen. Our mission is to help with useful information, whether online or in person. Distinctive places are humanity’s library of all that has been and can be. They are worth protecting – and worth a mindful, constructive visit.—JBT

[This post updated 19 Sept 2023]


Download the New DS Report Yearbook

Our DS Report partner the Global Sustainable Tourism Council has announced publication of a handsome collection of 19 past stories from the Destination Stewardship Report. It’s usefully organized according to four story themes: holistic destination stewardship, preservation of natural and cultural heritage, collaborative resilience, and building back better. The Yearbook also offers sustainability profiles of one alpine destination and three resort destinations – all certified by GSTC-accredited consultants.

You can download the entire 92-page 2021-2022 Destination Stewardship Yearbook for free HERE. Note that the Yearbook compilation is of selected stories only. For the complete list, see our DSR Archive page.

For your own subscription to the Destination Stewardship Report click HERE. It’s free, too. But we need your stories! What can you tell practitioners in other destinations that would help them make progress or avoid problems? Please review the Archive page and contact us with your ideas.

December Update, 2022

From the Director

Seasons greetings, everyone. My apologies for the long lag in posting. There has been a lot going on! Here’s what’s been happening at the Destination Stewardship Center and our allied organizations.

  • The Autumn 2022  issue of the Destination Stewardship Report was mailed in November. Since the Report launched in mid-2020, we have accumulated more than 60 feature articles, all archived for easy reference at https://destinationcenter.org/dsr-introduction/ .
  • We also have a new Index to content in all issues of the Destination Stewardship Report, as well as DSC blog posts and essays.
  • Architecture & Placemaking is a fascinating new category under “Destination Appeal,” presented by Clara Copiglia and demonstrating examples of interaction between architecture, spaces, tourism, and destination quality.
  • The Future of Tourism Coalition  held its first summit on 30 Sept., in Athens, Greece (the Destination Stewardship Center is one of six founding members). The main focus was on tourism and climate. Read more about it here.
  • The Athens meeting was held in conjunction with our colleagues at Green Destinations. GD has been sponsoring the “Top 100” sustainability competition among destinations. The competition has evolved to focus now on the best stories of success, an improvement in my opinion. I serve as one of the Top 100 hundred judges – thankfully not for all the entries! It is a privilege, and I’m pleased to see the quality of submissions improving over time. Every one of recent issues of the Destination Stewardship Report have included a pair of informative Top 100 entries, most recently from Zambia and Greece. Check them out.
  • Nice to receive this December geotourism newsletter from North America’s “Crown of the Continent” Geotourism Council, still going strong well into its second decade, with news on enlightened projects from one state and two provinces.
  • My thanks and deep appreciation to the board of CREST for naming me this year’s winner of the Martha Honey Legacy in Responsible Travel Award at their World Tourism Day Forum on 27 Sept. Given CREST’s distinguished history and broad scope of work, it is quite an honor. I’ll try to live up to it.
  • My thanks, too, to our volunteers who have helped so much with the content of this website and with the Destination Stewardship Report along with our colleagues at CREST and GSTC. The DSC is a collaborative undertaking. We invite all to help develop and spread the word about this knowledge center for sustaining and enhancing the places we love.

Best wishes to all for 2023!

— Jonathan B. Tourtellot, Director


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:



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