Geotourism Code of Good Practice
for companies and organizations
The Geotourism Charter is written as a set of principles for entire destinations, that is, everyone—businesses, government, residents, civic groups, all stakeholders. The Geotourism Code of Good Practice is intended specifically for tourism-related businesses. Below you will find the nine-clause Code and suggestions for how to use it.
Geotourism Stewardship Councils (GSCs) can generate some self-sustaining revenue by establishing and monitoring the Code for member businesses. Each participating business should post the Code on premises and on the GSC website, with provision for public comments curated by the GSC.
Below is the suggested Geotourism Code template (PDF), as originally developed by the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations:
[Name of local Geotourism Stewardship Council]
Geotourism Code of Good Practice for Enterprises
Whereas, the geotourism approach sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place – its environment, geology, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well being of its residents,
[Name of Company/Organization]
pledges to support these principles of the [Place name] Geotourism Code of Good Practice:
1. Integrity of place: We will work to protect and enhance [Place name]’s geographical character in ways distinctive to the place, reflective of its natural and cultural heritage. Our approaches to developing tourism will build on these resources and protect them.
2. Share our story: We will work to engage visitors and residents in exploring [Place name]’s distinctive characteristics, so that tourists gain a richer experience to recount and residents develop pride in the communities where they live and work.
3. Enriching tourist experience: We will work to ensure that our visitors are satisfied, enthusiastic, and supportive. We will listen to their interests and concerns, so that they will make return visits and take home travel stories that encourage others to visit [Place name] as well.
4. Community involvement and distinctiveness: We will conduct our tourism efforts in ways that support local businesses and civic groups to the greatest extent possible, encouraging partnerships that provide and promote a distinctive, authentic place for visitors and residents alike.
5. Destination appeal: We will support efforts to sustain [Place name]’s natural habitats, heritage sites, scenic appeal, and local culture—and encourage our visitors to do likewise. We will support efforts to avoid tourist overcrowding. We will seek to minimize sprawl and urge that the design of any new development suit its locale environmentally, culturally, and aesthetically.
6. Environment: We will work to minimize water usage, air and water pollution, solid waste, invasive species, loss of habitat, light and noise pollution, and energy consumption.
7. Human impact: We will support internationally accepted standards of tourism ethics and human rights in relations with our employees, customers, suppliers, and fellow community members. We will minimize unwanted social and cultural disruption from our tourism activities.
8. Collaboration: We will continue to promote geotourism principles by sharing best practices in our organizations and to collaborate on geotourism educational efforts and policy development.
9. Commitment: We will post this Code of Good Practice and the actions and policies with which we support it, and to the extent feasible, provide an open venue for others to comment.
Signatures: ___________________________ for [ company/organization name],
___________________________ for [Geotourism Stewardship Council name] in cooperation with the Destination Stewardship Center, destinationcenter.org
How to Use the Geotourism Code of Practice
At its simplest, the Code can be set up as three online elements by any enterprise that chooses to sign and participate in a geotourism self-certification program. A local Geotourism Stewardship Council (GSC) can help such businesses by posting and promoting a coordinated program and by lending credibility.
To adopt the Geotourism Code, an enterprise should provide these three things:
1. What We Promise—The Geotourism Code, , posted online and signed by the participating company or organization. A local GSC should help promote all enterprises participating in the program.
2. What Actions We’re Taking—A matching statement, posted online, of the organizations’ actions and policies in support of each of the first eight principles of the Code.
3. Tell Us How We Are Doing—In keeping with the ninth principle, a place online for public comments on the efficacy of the stated actions and policies, preferably hosted by the GSC to ensure neutrality and credibility.
Once the URLs are set up, this program basically administers itself, requiring only routine monitoring by the GSC.
A more advanced variation is to provide second- or third-party certification. This model can generate a modest revenue stream for GSC activities through a reasonable participation fee adjusted for the size of each enterprise. An enhanced program could provide bronze-silver-gold achievement levels, with appropriate processing fees. Third-party certification provides the best credibility and avoids conflict of interest.
Contact us for more information or assistance.
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