An European Guide for Best Practice in Sustainable Tourism
A best practice is a technique or methodology that, through experience and research, has proven to reliably lead to a desired result. A commitment to using the best practices in any field is a commitment to using all the knowledge and technology at one’s disposal to ensure success.
Below is a list of Best Practice resources relating to the following areas:
· Principles, Codes and Criteria
· Setting up a Sustainable Tourism Business
· Getting Certified
· Conservation of the Natural Environment
· Respecting the Social Environment
· Building „Green“
· Responsible Water Consumption
· Waste and Greenhouse Gas Reduction
· Energy and Electricity Usage
· Sustainable Food and Beverage
THE EUROPEAN CHARTA ON PRINCIPLES OF FAIR TOURISM
All participants involved in a tourism activity should get their fair share of the income, in direct proportion to their contribution to the activity.
All participants involved in a tourism activity should have the right and opportunity to participate in decisions that concern them.
Both host and visitor should have respect for human rights, culture and environment.
- Safe working conditions and practices
- Protection of young workers
- Promoting gender equality
- Understanding and tolerance of socio-cultural norms
- Reducing consumption of water and energy as well as reducing, reusing and recycling waste
- Conservation of biodiversity and natural resources
- HIV / Aids awareness
The services delivered to tourists should be reliable and consistent. Basic safety and securityfor both host and visitor should be ensured.
Tourism businesses should establish mechanisms of accountability.
- Ownership of tourism businesses must be clearly defined
- Employees and other participants should be able to access information that concerns them
- Sharing of profits, benefits and losses must be transparent
The tourism businesses should strive to be sustainable.
- Increased knowledge through capacity building
- Improved use of available resources through networking and partnerships
- Economic viability through responsible use of resources
- Reduction of leakage through local purchasing and employment
- Support to historically disadvantaged entrepreneurs
European Union Code of Conduct for Tour Operators
Codes of Conduct for Tour Operators
Guidelines for EU tour operators :
1. Make Tourism and Conservation Compatible
- Develop a positive relationship with organizations and people that play a role in conservation, particularly in the areas that you will visit with your clients.
- Encourage your clients to become members of conservation organizations.
- Encourage governments and businesses to support projects such as new nature reserves through writing letters or personal contacts.
- Contribute time and money to conservation organizations and projects.
- Plan tourism activities so that they do not conflict with conservation efforts. Obtain permission before visiting nature reserves or other areas where access is restricted. When visiting these areas, be sure that your activities comply with the rules of the park or reserve.
- Know the laws and regulations that apply to the import and export of products made from wildlife, and make sure that your clients understand and follow these laws. Encourage your clients to buy products made by local people, so long as these products are not made from endangered species and their sale does not violate the law.
- Develop an environmental plan for your daily operations. If you are an operator employing more than 20 people, have a written environmental plan that states your company’s commitment to conservation, to using resources in a sustainable way and to the principles itemized in these Codes of Conduct. Include specific procedures that your company uses in its daily operations to prevent and minimize detrimental environmental impacts. Make the plan available to your clients.
- Use post-trip evaluations to confirm that your tour was environmentally sound. Feedback from clients is a good way to find out if your tour met their expectations. In your post-trip evaluations, ask your clients whether or not they felt the tour avoided unnecessary negative environmental impacts, and if the tour operator demonstrated consideration of the natural and cultural environment. Written post-trip evaluation forms are preferable, although oral evaluations are acceptable, especially for smaller operations.
2. Support the Preservation of Wilderness and Biodiversity
- Promote the maintenance of large, undeveloped areas. The undeveloped regions of the Arctic, for example, have a unique value, and are one of the primary reasons why tourists come to the Arctic. This unique value is undermined by roads, pipelines and other kinds of unsightly large-scale development that fragments the environment.
- Support wildlife conservation programs and projects. Make your clients aware of these efforts and ensure that they do not hunt or fish protected or threatened species, enter sensitive wildlife habitats, or buy products made from protected species.
3. Use Natural Resources in a Sustainable Way
- Where laws permit hunting and fishing, follow all rules and take only what you can use. Ensure that your clients obey the laws and regulations and do not contribute to the over-depletion of local wildlife stocks. Cooperate with community and indigenous hunters’ associations.
- Make sure that your clients use only appropriate and well-maintained hunting equipment that they know how to use correctly.
- When determining the number of clients that will visit an area, consider area specifics (wildlife, nesting birds, fragile vegetation, etc.) and any special vulnerability of the site. Inform other operators in the region of your plans in order to avoid over-visitation of a site.
- Use only established trails and existing campsites to avoid creating new ones.
- Avoid disturbing wildlife. Instruct your clients on local wildlife behavior, and make sure that they view it from an appropriate distance.
4. Minimize Consumption, Waste and Pollution
- Your choice of products and the amount that you and your clients consume makes a difference.
- Whether you bring supplies with you or buy them, choose biodegradable or recyclable products with minimal packaging.
- Compress garbage and take it with you.
- Recycle where possible and encourage the communities that you visit to develop recycling programs if they do not have them already. If feasible, provide financial support to encourage the development of these programs, and show your commitment to the communities you and your clients visit.
- Limit energy use, including your use of heat and warm water. Keep records of your water and energy consumption, and recycling and waste-reduction efforts.
- The transportation you choose for your clients makes a difference. Opt for the means of transport that has the least environmental impact. Minimize the use of fossil fuels and try to use non-motorized transport whenever possible. Where motorized transportation is necessary, choose the technology that causes the least environmental damage and minimal noise (four-stroke instead of two-stroke engines, for example). Do not use motorized transport such as snowmobiles and helicopters unnecessarily; these should only be used to get from one area to another or for seeing specific sites.
- Choose accommodations compatible with local traditions and that minimize negative environmental impacts. Choose lodging that has effective waste treatment systems, recycles and disposes of non-recyclable garbage appropriately.
- Support efforts to clean up waste and polluted areas by providing money, lobbying governments and businesses, contributing your time and that of your staff, and by encouraging your clients to support these efforts as well. Ensure that no trace of your visit remains behind.
- Follow responsible practices for camping and tours, including those that concern waste disposal.
- Retain all plastic for proper disposal, and compact all wood products, glass, and metal for a disposal facility. Ensure that any incinerators you use function properly.
5. Respect Local Cultures
- Coordinate with the communities that you visit to ensure that you are welcome, and that your visit is not disruptive.
- Arrange visits to communities well in advance, and avoid visits that are not pre-arranged.
- Reconfirm your visit, preferably 24 hours in advance, and be prepared to pay the community for costs associated with cancelled visits.
- Arrange what you and your clients will do during your visit with the community beforehand. Be sure you have permission to visit and to undertake the activities you have planned.
- Find out what size of group the community prefers for the planned activities.
- Keep away from sites where people are working, including hunting and fishing sites, unless you have specific agreements with locals.
- Be aware of the laws and regulations in the area or waters in which you are operating, and obtain the necessary permits.
- Respect the culture and customs of the people whose communities you visit, and make sure that your clients do so as well.
- Give all visitors a thorough cultural briefing before visiting local communities. Where possible, hire local lecturers to conduct these briefings. Include information on local customs and traditions and on appropriate behavior for tourists in the area. Use local “Codes for Visitors” if available.
- Ask permission to photograph or videotape.
- Ensure that your clients respect religious grounds, churches, cemeteries and other sites with religious or cultural significance, and that they do not remove any artifacts.
6. Respect Historic and Scientific Sites
- Respect historic sites and markers, and make sure that your clients do not remove any artifacts. If access to historic or archaeological sites is restricted, obtain permission before visiting. Ensure that your clients behave respectfully, particularly if a site has religious significance.
- Respect the work of scientists. Do not enter scientific installations or work sites without making prior arrangements. Do not disturb scientists while they are working, and do not disturb their work sites.
7. Communities Should Benefit from Tourism
- Whenever possible, hire local staff and contract local businesses. Train and hire local people for your operations. Where local people lack the training you require, provide it. Use locally-owned businesses as subcontractors. Develop long-term partnerships with local operators, businesses and suppliers. A local connection most often means a better tourism experience.
- Operate in ways that benefit the communities you visit, particularly with respect to supplies. If feasible, buy supplies and services locally. Ask communities what supplies you should bring with you so that your visit and use of supplies does not cause hardship to local people. Encourage your clients to buy locally-made handicrafts and products.
- Where possible, choose accommodations owned, built and staffed by local people.
8. Educate Staff
- Hire a professional team.
- Hire only knowledgeable, environmentally and culturally aware staff, or train your existing staff in these areas. Provide training in how to avoid negative environmental impacts, in safety and in providing service. Evaluate the performance of your staff, at least annually.
- If you are a ship-based tour operator, hire lecturers and conservation-oriented naturalists who will not only talk about wildlife, environmental protection, history, geology and local cultures, but who can guide passengers ashore and who are familiar with safety and local conservation requirements.
9. Make Your Trip an Opportunity to Learn
- Provide your clients with information about the environment and conservation. Provide lectures and written materials about the environment, its special characteristics and its global significance. Include information about conservation in general, specific conservation efforts in the areas that you will visit, and specific ways — financial and otherwise — that your clients can support these conservation efforts.
- Provide your clients with specific information about the regions they will visit. Include information about climate, wildlife species and habitats, as well as appropriate behavior for these areas.
10. Follow Safety Rules
- Provide local authorities with your itinerary. This is both for safety reasons and to be sure you are complying with local regulations.
- Brief all clients and staff on the dangers of wildlife encounters.
- Have at least one staff member who is responsible for co-coordinating safety and avoiding dangerous encounters with wildlife.
Partnership for Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria
- The Partnership for Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria
- Working together for the universal adoption of sustainable tourism principles
· Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria Preamble
- Sustainable tourism is on the rise: consumer demand is growing, travel industry suppliers are developing new green programs, and governments are creating new policies to encourage sustainable practices in tourism. But what does “sustainable tourism” really mean? How can it be measured and credibly demonstrated, in order to build consumer confidence, promote efficiency, and fight false claims?
- The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria are an effort to come to a common understanding of sustainable tourism, and will be the minimum that any tourism business should aspire to reach. They are organized around four main themes: effective sustainability planning; maximizing social and economic benefits for the local community; enhancing cultural heritage; and reducing negative impacts to the environment. Although the criteria are initially intended for use by the accommodation and tour operation sectors, they have applicability to the entire tourism industry.
- The criteria are part of the response of the tourism community to the global challenges of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. Poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability – including climate change – are the main cross-cutting issues that are addressed through the criteria.
- Beginning in 2007, a coalition of 27 organizations – the Partnership for Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria – came together to develop the criteria. Since then, they have reached out to close to 100,000 tourism stakeholders, analyzed more than 4,500 criteria from more than 60 existing certification and other voluntary sets of criteria, and received comments from over 1500 individuals. The Sustainable Tourism Criteria have been developed in accordance with the ISEAL Code of Best Practice, and as such will undergo consultation and receive input every two years until feedback is no longer provided or unique.
- Some of the expected uses of the criteria include the following:
- • Serve as basic guidelines for businesses of all sizes to become more sustainable, and help businesses choose sustainable tourism programs that fulfill these global criteria;
- • Serve as guidance for travel agencies in choosing suppliers and sustainable tourism programs;
- • Help consumers identify sound sustainable tourism programs and businesses;
- • Serve as a common denominator for information media to recognize sustainable tourism providers;
- • Help certification and other voluntary programs ensure that their standards meet a broadly-accepted baseline;
- • Offer governmental, non-governmental, and private sector programs a starting point for developing sustainable tourism requirements; and
- • Serve as basic guidelines for education and training bodies, such as hotel schools and universities.
- The criteria indicate what should be done, not how to do it or whether the goal has been achieved. This role is fulfilled by performance indicators, associated educational materials, and access to tools for implementation, all of which are an indispensable complement to the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria.
- The Partnership conceives the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria as the beginning of a process to make sustainability the standard practice in all forms of tourism.
Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria
- A. Demonstrate effective sustainable management.
- A.1. The company has implemented a long-term sustainability management system that is suitable to its reality and scale, and that considers environmental, sociocultural, quality, health, and safety issues.
- A.2. The company is in compliance with all relevant international or local legislation and regulations (including, among others, health, safety, labor, and environmental aspects).
- A.3. All personnel receive periodic training regarding their role in the management of environmental, sociocultural, health, and safety practices.
- A.4. Customer satisfaction is measured and corrective action taken where appropriate.
- A.5. Promotional materials are accurate and complete and do not promise more than can be delivered by the business.
- A.6. Design and construction of buildings and infrastructure:
- A.6.1. comply with local zoning and protected or heritage area requirements;
- A.6.2. respect the natural or cultural heritage surroundings in siting, design, impact assessment, and land rights and acquisition;
- A.6.3 use locally appropriate principles of sustainable construction;
- A.6.4 provide access for persons with special needs.
- A.7. Information about and interpretation of the natural surroundings, local culture, and cultural heritage is provided to customers, as well as explaining appropriate behavior while visiting natural areas, living cultures, and cultural heritage sites.
- B. Maximize social and economic benefits to the local community and minimize negative impacts.
- B.1. The company actively supports initiatives for social and infrastructure community development including, among others, education, health, and sanitation.
- B.2. Local residents are employed, including in management positions. Training is offered as necessary.
- B.3. Local and fair-trade services and goods are purchased by the business, where available.
- B.4. The company offers the means for local small entrepreneurs to develop and sell sustainable products that are based on the area’s nature, history, and culture (including food and drink, crafts, performance arts, agricultural products, etc.).
- B.5. A code of conduct for activities in indigenous and local communities has been developed, with the consent of and in collaboration with the community.
- B.6. The company has implemented a policy against commercial exploitation, particularly of children and adolescents, including sexual exploitation.
- B.7. The company is equitable in hiring women and local minorities, including in management positions, while restraining child labor.
- B.8. The international or national legal protection of employees is respected, and employees are paid a living wage.
- B.9. The activities of the company do not jeopardize the provision of basic services, such as water, energy, or sanitation, to neighboring communities.
- C. Maximize benefits to cultural heritage and minimize negative impacts.
- C.1. The company follows established guidelines or a code of behavior for visits to culturally or historically sensitive sites, in order to minimize visitor impact and maximize enjoyment.
- C.2. Historical and archeological artifacts are not sold, traded, or displayed, except as permitted by law.
- C.3. The business contributes to the protection of local historical, archeological, culturally, and spiritually important properties and sites, and does not impede access to them by local residents.
- C.4 The business uses elements of local art, architecture, or cultural heritage in its operations, design, decoration, food, or shops; while respecting the intellectual property rights of local communities.
- D. Maximize benefits to the environment and minimize negative impacts.
- D.1. Conserving resources
- D.1.1. Purchasing policy favors environmentally friendly products for building materials, capital goods, food, and consumables.
- D.1.2. The purchase of disposable and consumable goods is measured, and the business actively seeks ways to reduce their use.
- D.1.3. Energy consumption should be measured, sources indicated, and measures to decrease overall consumption should be adopted, while encouraging the use of renewable energy.
- D.1.4. Water consumption should be measured, sources indicated, and measures to decrease overall consumption should be adopted.
- D.2. Reducing pollution
- D.2.1. Greenhouse gas emissions from all sources controlled by the business are measured, and procedures are implemented to reduce and offset them as a way to achieve climate neutrality.
- D.2.2. Wastewater, including gray water, is treated effectively and reused where possible.
- D.2.3. A solid waste management plan is implemented, with quantitative goals to minimize waste that is not reused or recycled.
- D.2.4. The use of harmful substances, including pesticides, paints, swimming pool disinfectants, and cleaning materials, is minimized; substituted, when available, by innocuous products; and all chemical use is properly managed.
- D.2.5. The business implements practices to reduce pollution from noise, light, runoff, erosion, ozone-depleting compounds, and air and soil contaminants.
- D.3. Conserving biodiversity, ecosystems, and landscapes
- D.3.1. Wildlife species are only harvested from the wild, consumed, displayed, sold, or internationally traded, as part of a regulated activity that ensures that their utilization is sustainable.
- D.3.2. No captive wildlife is held, except for properly regulated activities, and living specimens of protected wildlife species are only kept by those authorized and suitably equipped to house and care for them.
- D.3.3. The business uses native species for landscaping and restoration, and takes measures to avoid the introduction of invasive alien species.
- D.3.4. The business contributes to the support of biodiversity conservation, including supporting natural protected areas and areas of high biodiversity value.
- D.3.5. Interactions with wildlife must not produce adverse effects on the viability of populations in the wild; and any disturbance of natural ecosystems is minimized, rehabilitated, and there is a compensatory contribution to conservation management.