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Setting Standards for Sustainable Tourism: An analysis of US tourism certification programs

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Setting Standards for Sustainable Tourism: An analysis of US tourism certification programs

  1. 1. Lisa Poser Master of Environmental Management Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University Setting Standards for Sustainable Tourism An analysis of US tourism certification programs
  2. 2. Objectives <ul><li>Introduce the current effort to create a global standard for sustainable tourism </li></ul><ul><li>Outline four contrasting US tourism certification programs </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluate how well these programs conform to best practices standards </li></ul>Background – Research Question – Methods – Results – Discussion
  3. 3. Sustainable Tourism <ul><li>Seeks to minimize impacts: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ecological </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cultural </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Provides economic benefits to local communities and host countries </li></ul>Background – Research Question – Methods – Results – Discussion Source: Bien, 2004
  4. 4. Tourism Certification <ul><li>Voluntary procedure </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing technique </li></ul><ul><li>Importance </li></ul><ul><li>Benefits </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Educational tool </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduces operating costs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Offers consumers a choice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Protects natural and cultural resources </li></ul></ul><ul><li>60-80 “green” tourism certification programs </li></ul>Source: Rainforest Alliance, ESTC 2008 Background – Research Question – Methods – Results – Discussion
  5. 5. Tourism Certification Tourism Market Tourism Business 1 Certification Program Auditor Accreditation Body Tourism Business 2 Tourism Business 3 1. Criteria Background – Research Question – Methods – Results – Discussion 2. Assessment 3. Certification 4. Recognition 5. Acceptance Adapted from Font, 2002 & Sanabria ESTC ppt . Sustainable Tourism Stewardship Council (STSC)
  6. 6. Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria <ul><li>Demonstrate effective sustainable management . (10) </li></ul><ul><li>Maximize social and economic benefits to the local community and minimize negative impacts. (9) </li></ul><ul><li>Maximize benefits to cultural heritage and minimize negative impacts. (4) </li></ul><ul><li>Maximize benefits to the environment and minimize negative impacts. (14) </li></ul>Background – Research Question – Methods – Results – Discussion
  7. 7. <ul><li>Do US tourism certification programs: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>comply with best practice procedural standards for credible certification schemes? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>2000 Mohonk Agreement </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>take into account the triple-bottom line principles of environmental, sociocultural, and economic sustainability? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>2008 Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria </li></ul></ul></ul>Core Research Questions Background – Research Question – Methods – Results – Discussion
  8. 8. US Tourism Certification Programs Background – Research Question – Methods – Results – Discussion <ul><li>State Level </li></ul><ul><li>Adventure Green Alaska </li></ul><ul><li>California Green Lodging </li></ul><ul><li>Florida Green Lodging </li></ul><ul><li>Green Hotels in the Green </li></ul><ul><li>Mountain State - VT </li></ul><ul><li>Green Lodging Michigan </li></ul><ul><li>Maine Green Lodging </li></ul><ul><li>NH Sustainable Lodging and Restaurant Program </li></ul><ul><li>Travel Green Wisconsin </li></ul><ul><li>Virginia Green </li></ul><ul><li>Global Level </li></ul><ul><li>Audubon Signature programs </li></ul><ul><li>Green Globe 21 </li></ul><ul><li>GG21 International Ecotourism Standard (IES) </li></ul><ul><li>STEP (Sustainable Tourism Eco-Certification Program) </li></ul><ul><li>Regional Level </li></ul><ul><li>LEED </li></ul><ul><li>Green Seal </li></ul><ul><li>Audubon Green </li></ul><ul><li>Leaf Eco-Rating Program </li></ul>
  9. 9. Background – Research Question – Methods – Results – Discussion <ul><li>US Certification Program Case Studies: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Website research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interviews </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SWOT analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Strengths </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Weaknesses </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Opportunities </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Threats </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Adventure Green Alaska <ul><li>Strengths </li></ul><ul><li>3 levels of certification </li></ul><ul><li>Criteria very specific to AK </li></ul><ul><li>Spot checks businesses </li></ul><ul><li>Sliding fee scale for applicants </li></ul><ul><li>Certifies all types of tourism businesses </li></ul><ul><li>Developed using multi-stakeholder approach </li></ul><ul><li>Weaknesses </li></ul><ul><li>Self-evaluation </li></ul><ul><li>Doesn’t require baseline data </li></ul>Background – Research Question – Methods – Results – Discussion http://www.oars.com/images/alaska/main_alaska.jpg Launched 2008 9 certified businesses <ul><li>Fulfill 3 core criteria </li></ul><ul><li>500 points available </li></ul><ul><li>280 points: bronze level certification </li></ul>
  11. 11. Travel Green Wisconsin <ul><li>Strengths </li></ul><ul><li>Fairly stable funding source from WI Dept. of Tourism </li></ul><ul><li>Assigns green score </li></ul><ul><li>Sliding fee scale for applicants </li></ul><ul><li>Certifies all types of tourism businesses </li></ul><ul><li>Requires baseline data </li></ul><ul><li>Weaknesses </li></ul><ul><li>No spot checks </li></ul><ul><li>Can be certified based on an “intent to complete” practices </li></ul><ul><li>Self-evaluation </li></ul>http://www.travelmuse.com/articles/wisconsin-dells/dells-family-activities Background – Research Question – Methods – Results – Discussion Launched 2007 208 certified businesses <ul><li>Baseline data for energy, water, solid waste </li></ul><ul><li>3 core criteria </li></ul><ul><li>140+ points available </li></ul><ul><li>30 points required </li></ul>
  12. 12. Virginia Green Background – Research Question – Methods – Results – Discussion <ul><li>Strengths </li></ul><ul><li>Green profiles posted on web </li></ul><ul><li>Certifies lodging, restaurants, convention centers, golf courses, visitor centers, events, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Weaknesses </li></ul><ul><li>No monitoring </li></ul><ul><li>Certified on 5 vague criteria </li></ul><ul><li>Self-evaluation </li></ul><ul><li>Only 1 level of certification </li></ul><ul><li>No membership fee = less $ for program </li></ul>Launched 2006 413 certified businesses <ul><li>Offer optional linen service </li></ul><ul><li>Recycle and reduce waste </li></ul><ul><li>Use water efficiently • Offer green events </li></ul><ul><li>Conserve energy package </li></ul>
  13. 13. Florida Green Lodging http://coconutpoint.hyatt.com/hyatt/images/hotels/naprn/signature.jpg Background – Research Question – Methods – Results – Discussion Launched 2004 419 certified businesses <ul><li>Baseline data for water, energy, waste </li></ul><ul><li>Meet 17 specific criteria in categories like Communication, Water Conservation, Waste Reduction, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Strengths </li></ul><ul><li>2 nd party certification </li></ul><ul><li>3 levels of certification </li></ul><ul><li>FL specific criteria </li></ul><ul><li>Weaknesses </li></ul><ul><li>Business sustainability practices not listed on website </li></ul><ul><li>Unreliable funding source </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Only certifies lodging sector </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No membership fee = less $ for program </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>US Certification Program Case Studies: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Website research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interviews </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SWOT analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Content analysis: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Program procedural framework vs. best practice standards (17) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Program criteria vs. Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (37) </li></ul></ul>Background – Research Question – Methods – Results – Discussion
  15. 15. Best Practice Standards Analysis Background – Research Question – Methods – Results – Discussion 2 nd party No, self-eval No, self-eval No, self-eval. Third-party audits 71% 47% 82% 88% % of standards fulfilled (17 standards total)  No   Motivation for continual improvement   No  Provide technical assistance Difficult to do Not really Most likely  Establish control of seal/logo in terms of appropriate use FL VA WI AK Best Practice Standards
  16. 16. Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC) Analysis Background – Research Question – Methods – Results – Discussion (10) (9) (4) (9) (5)
  17. 17. Recommendations <ul><li>Certification Program Improvements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Procedural Changes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>More rigorous certification requirements </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Monitoring and 3 rd party certification </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Criteria Additions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Socioeconomic, cultural, biodiversity criteria </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be inclusive of all tourism sectors </li></ul></ul>Background – Research Question – Methods – Results – Discussion
  18. 18. The Future of Tourism Certification <ul><li>Voluntary tourism certification is a tool for moving the industry towards more sustainable practices </li></ul><ul><li>Tourism businesses will be expected to maximize benefits and reduce negative impacts to local communities, cultures and the environment </li></ul><ul><li>Who is greenwashing? Who isn’t? </li></ul><ul><li>Moving towards a global tourism standard and accreditation of certification programs </li></ul>Background – Research Question – Methods – Results – Discussion
  19. 19. Acknowledgements <ul><li>Jennifer Swenson, MP advisor </li></ul><ul><li>Dean Urban, mentor </li></ul><ul><li>Tourism certification program coordinators </li></ul><ul><li>Folks at Solimar International </li></ul><ul><li>All of my Nic School friends and professors </li></ul><ul><li>Abel Valdivia-Acosta, MP technical & emotional advisor </li></ul><ul><li>My loving and supportive family </li></ul>
  20. 20. Any Questions?

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