The International Tourism Fair FITUR, which is being held these days in Madrid, has served as the setting for a key event for responsible tourism: the first meeting of sustainable tourist destinations from all over the world, collected under the Biosphere Certified Destination label.
These are destinations that have the certification issued by the Responsible Tourism Institute (RTI), a Spanish entity that maintains a Memorandum of Understanding with UNESCO and works to support companies and destinations around the world that seek to embark on the path to sustainability.
The invited destinations have in common to have followed – or to be in the process of doing so – the methodology, advice, recommendations and audits that the ITR carries out to guarantee compliance with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, as well as the indications of the Paris Agreement against Climate Change, among others. Among these objectives is, for example, the use of non-polluting energies, the protection of the local economy and culture, the promotion of fair employment policies that respect gender equality, action for climate, clean water, the care of natural resources…
The result of this process is to obtain a certification – Biosphere Certified Destination – issued by RTI that guarantees the commitment with these objectives and that serves as an international guarantee of sustainability for the final consumer: the tourist. In addition, belonging to this community serves as a tool for continuous improvement and exchange of experiences. Thus, among its objectives are the following:
- Promote the tourist promotion of the destinations members of the community in an increasingly booming market
- Encourage the exchange of practices, policies and communications about sustainable initiatives carried out by members and promote the exchange of projects and ideas
- Encourage the development of projects in which member destinations can participate
- Participate in the discussion and decision making on application requirements, methodology and relations with companies and tourist services within the destinations
- Promote tourism sustainability in destinations and encourage those who have not bet on sustainability to do so.
The meeting of the Biosphere destination community held yesterday was the first of a series of annual meetings in which representatives of destinations from around the world will meet to continue sharing experiences and join efforts to promote sustainable tourism throughout the world. world.
In addition, in meetings like yesterday’s, the course of sustainable tourism will be decided in part, marking the criteria, requirements and indicators that improve the sustainable practices of the destinations.
A paradigm shift: the ‘responsible tourist’
Quotes like yesterday highlight the growing concern for sustainability in the tourism sector, responsible for 10% of world GDP and, for many countries, one of its main sources of income, as is the case in Spain. In our country almost one sixth of the economy is linked to tourism and its good performance, represents up to 16% of the national GDP.
Hence, from the RTI highlight “the need to work on the sustainability of tourism, meeting the demands of the visitor and fleeing the model of intensive exploitation and massification of the past” says Patricio Azcárate, director of the RTI.
Do not forget that the statistics show a change of attitude of the tourist in terms of his preferred way of traveling. He is increasingly concerned about issues such as climate change – this is already the second global concern and the first for millennials -, in addition to which ecological tourism is growing steadily – his weight on the total has passed from 7 to 25% in just 6 years-.
The figures also show that 66% of tourists are willing to pay more for a sustainable tourism experience. Excessive overcrowding or lack of maintenance of the local culture are other determining factors for the tourist when traveling.
New image and new spaces for the meeting
Our meeting with Fitur will also serve to present our new corporate image, which we will apply to both the Responsible Tourism Institute (RTI) and its Biosphere brand. With this step, we will combine both concepts and integrate them as the whole that they are. The objective is to modernize our image and project with it, in a clearer way, our future goals, but also to offer a more homogeneous and simple service for any interested party.
Therefore, we also bet on the renewal of the web pages that are currently available to you: http://responsibletourisminstitute.comand www.biospheretourism.com . Both will have a new structure and contents that will make it easier for any person, company or institution interested in sustainable tourism to search for information and solutions for their specific case.
All this work is focused on tourists living sustainable experiences. With this third pillar we hope to close what we have wanted to call the ‘circle of sustainability’. Thus, not only we will be responsible for certifying tourist destinations (covering the public) and companies (covering the private sector), but we will create a space for the final recipients, that is, citizens and tourists, through the Manifesto of the Responsible Enterprise and the Manifest of the Responsible Traveler.
This project is linked to the figure of our ambassadors of sustainable tourism, to which we will give specific promotion. Bloggers of tourism, television programs, media … become allies of sustainability, as is the case of Diario de un nómada, the first television program in the world to obtain the Biosphere certificate.