Valere Tjolle talks to the team behind the Vision European sustainable tourism award
Q: What did you think about Rio+20? Was it a success or a failure as far as tourism is concerned?
Not a success, nothing new. But at least the "green economy" role for sustainable tourism development has been underlined. Not sufficient without changing the rules for economic activities. But let"s give it a try.
Green economy means to continuously raise resources efficiency to minimize climate change and to halt the loss of biodiversity. Inthis sense each tourism business and service shall be more efficient. But this will not be sufficient to making the whole tourism sector sustainable as long as "efficiency" (per unit) goes along with ongoing growth of consumption units, of speed, of distances. More "sufficiency" is necessary: less - slower - regional.
You can find a longer article I posted on DestiNet which states both positive and negative aspects of Rio+20. But I would single out 3 key issues: Rio+ 20 must be seen by the tourism sector as an alarming warning that a) Agenda 21 has not been dealt with seriously for the last 20 years by both government and business, who have consistently weakened their commitments, green-washed them or manipulated the process to serve their own short term interests; b) civil society has been ineffective at engaging mass support for its single issue causes or developing effective coalitions between different issues and c) the crises we face will impact on tourism unless we move from the security first, markets first reality to the sustainability first equity first Agenda 21 development model, in which travel and tourism will genuinely prosper and bring benefit for all
Q: Sustainable tourism certification is a current top subject, there are a plethora of options, what is your view?
To the sustainable tourism certificates out there this is not new: altogether the 100 certificates worldwide today have certified about 20.000 tourism services and businesses , tour operators and destinations in many countries. Not yet a big choice to millions of travellers which would like to name themselves as "responsible". But always enough to raise their visibility as good as possible to responsible tour operators and travelers - so that they can at least have a look whether there is a better choice available in their destination of interest.
Certification is a positive process that leads to greater detailed understanding of the practical implementation of SD, improved transparency, and a common view of what sustainability means. I believe its main value is in greening supply chains, the development of green public procurement, and builid regional sustainability clusters at this point in time. We are far away from certification which the average tourist would recognize and react upon with their wallets, but b to b or b to g (business to government) certification is almost essential if we are really making the move to SCP, as Rio+20 again endorses.
Q: Destinet aims to be a major communication network for sustainable tourism, how is it progressing?
The independent DestiNet portal, administrated by Ecotrans, gives easy and free access to all 100+ ST certificates and to eco-certified tourism world wide. Each hotel or camping site, tourism attraction or tour operator on the global DestiNet Market Place is linked with its certificate, very helpful for those who want to know more about e.g. the environmental criteria or the control system - including the certificates themselves who want to learn from each other to become - altogether - more stronger and efficient!
I"ve been in the ICT development game for 25 years now, and it has been a rapidly shifting playing field in which the DestiNet design interface is been constantly upgraded according to the latest technical options, where our main problem is trying to make the complex nature of ST simple to deal with on screen. What we have created with very limited resources is a multi-stakeholder input CMS for use by tourism professionals. The FAST-LAIN and Ecolnet projects have demonstrated that it has now become a usable tool a that can be used at a local, regional, national or international level as an on-line office for project collaborators, a quality assessed expert ST knowledge base, a good practice exchange system, a decentralized tourism sustainability monitoring and reporting management system, and above all an independent global sustainable tourism market place. I think that is progress, but we need to go further, and to do that we need a stronger partnership to bring DestiNet to its full potential - ie a freely available, web2 cloud-based tool that engages tourism professionals in the culture of information collaboration so they can deal with the multi-stakeholder, multi-topic, multi-level and multi-place complexity that is overloading almost every organisation and its staff that I know of at the moment.
Q: What will happen now for the successful VESTA awards?
Vision & Ecotrans are now starting a promotion campaign: every week another certificate
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
From spectacular art and interior design, to outstanding culinary and sustainable innovation, the Conrad New York is Lower Manhattan's newest luxury address.