ASTA reports it has joined The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), an international partnership dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism practices around the world. Founded in partnership by the World Tourism Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme, UN Foundation, Rainforest Alliance, Sabre/Travelocity and others, the GSTC is open to any member of the travel and tourism industries.
"ASTA believes that through its association staff and our membership we can change the world for the better," said ASTA President and Chairman Chris Russo. "The goals in our Corporate Social Responsibility program center on climate change and environmental protection, social responsibility and ethical business practices. Our work with GSTC supports our goals and allows us to further promote sustainable tourism."
"We are pleased that ASTA is joining in our efforts. The tourism industry is growing and we have a responsibility to that growth is done in a responsible way," said Erika Harms, executive director of the GSTC. "We look forward to working with ASTA to help implement and explain sustainable tourism so that it becomes as ubiquitous as travel itself."
ASTA said it is committed to protecting the environment and working to lessen the negative impact of global climate change. To that end, ASTA has developed an educational program to assist its members in becoming responsible sellers of "green" travel. Additionally, working with industry organizations such as Tourism Cares, MASSIVEGOOD, Global Volunteers, and End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes-Sweden, ASTA is able to support activities that contribute to local economies and bring awareness to the critical role that tourism plays throughout the world, ASTA says.
The GSTC is made up of members of the tourism and travel industry, including UN agencies, tour operators, travel companies, individual hotels and government tourism councils. Members include: Adventure Travel and Trade Association; American Society of Travel Agents; Audubon International; Belize Tourism Board; Big Five Tours and Expeditions, Inc.; Blackstone Valley Tourism Council; Center for Responsible Travel; Certificaciones de Centroamerica; S.A. Sustainable Tourism; Consorcio Cooperativa Red Eco turística Nacional; Destination Ventures; Earthcheck; European Centre for Ecological and Agricultural Tourism; Eco and Sustainable Tourism Israel; Ecosustainability; Ecotourism Australia; ECOTRANS; Enclave Rising, LLC; Fairmont Hotels and Resorts; Federación Colombiana De Ecoparques; Fundacion Plan 21; GAP Adventures/Planeterra; Global Center of Excellence for Destination; Green Globe Certification; Green Seal; HM Design; Hostelling International; Instituto de Turismo Responsable; InterContinental Barclay New York; Mexico Tourism Board; Nordic World Heritage Foundation; Our Native Village; Pacific Asia Tourism Pty Ltd; Pronatura Sur, A.C.; Rainforest Alliance; Rara Avis Rainforest Lodge & Reserve; Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd; and Sabre Holdings.
The GSTC includes partners from around the globe, and is currently active in Africa, the Americas, Middle East, and East Asia. More than 170 U.S. cities have already adopted the GSTC's criteria, including San Francisco, Miami, Maui, and Los Angeles.
Over the next three years, the GSTC will work with the members in each region to promote sustainable tourism principles, as well as encourage the adoption of the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, ASTA says. As part of the initiative, each member is committing to promote the GSTC to its customers, vendors and peers. Sustainability principles refer to the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, and a suitable balance must be established between these three dimensions to guarantee long-term sustainability.