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WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) has launched a 60-day public comment period for Version 2 of the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria that are based on ISEAL guidelines (the ISEAL Alliance is a global association for social and environmental standards). The survey will be open until October 15, 2011. The survey can be accessed through the GSTC website site.
HUNAN PROVINCE, CHINA—The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and China have opened a third Sustainable Tourism Observatory to monitor the environmental and socio-economic impacts of tourism. The Zhangjiajie Observatory, located in Hunan Province, is part of a network of observatories assisting policy makers to ensure sustainable tourism growth. It will gather and report data on the environmental, social and economic impacts of tourism in the area based on UNWTO sustainable tourism indictors.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The organizers of the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC), an annual industry conference focusing on advancing sustainability goals for the tourism industry, have set a hefty goal: reinforcing the roles of tourism in building a sustainable future. With a myriad of challenges facing tourism including climate change threats, political and economic instabilities this is not an easy mission to accomplish. The ESTC co-chairs Dr. Kelly Bricker and Richard Edwards, representing the board of directors of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), are optimistic, and not just because the idyllic and cheerful environment that this year’s host, Hilton Head Island, S.C., promises. “We want to bring significant change to the global tourism industry,” says Edwards, “and we need buy-ins from all sectors of our industry, both bottom-up and top-down. Increasingly we are seeing destinations—DMOs, CVBs, National Tourism Boards—becoming engaged in sustainable tourism and investing in going beyond ‘going green’ and taking tangible steps to strengthen their sustainability efforts. This is a very promising trend for the future of tourism.”
ITHACA, N.Y.—When large restaurant companies implement sustainability policies, customers seem to react in a contrary way—and their evaluation of those companies may actually diminish. In a new study from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR), researchers Michael Giebelhausen and Helen Chun examine this contrary behavior to see how large companies could gain the sustainability credibility they deserve. The study, “Reversing the Green Backlash: Why Large Hospitality Companies Should Welcome ‘Credibly Green' Competitors,’” is available at no charge.
PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO—The CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa has started a new program aimed at helping female turtles lay eggs and hatchlings to make it to sea. Guests are welcomed to take part in the conservation effort. CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort has created a summer tradition and is again inviting guests to take part in a educational vacation experience—the “Secretos del Mar” Sea Turtle Rescue Program, unique among Puerto Vallarta hotels. Guests are encouraged to spend time with a local biologist, learn more about the endangered species and participate in combing the beach so female turtles have a groomed surface on which to lay their eggs. Following the procedures established by the National Institute of Fisheries and the Fishing & Marine Biology Station of the University of Guadalajara, the resort’s work coincides with the sea turtle season, which begins in June and continues through December, as sea turtles breach the water to come ashore and lay their eggs. However, the daily activities of a beach resort are hardly a safe place for a turtle nest.
ORLANDO, FLA.—Clean the World Foundation, the largest global distributor of recycled hotel soaps and bottled amenities, has elected two executives and a medical professional to its Board of Directors. Mark Rucker, vice president of Lodging for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and Bob Scaglione, chief marketing officer at Sharp Electronics Corp., in Mahwah, N.J., were chosen to join the Clean the World Foundation Board of Directors at a June 13 meeting. Dr. Paul J. Skomsky, an Orlando cosmetic dentist, was chosen at a meeting July 7.
DENTON, TEXAS—Graduate students seeking to advance their careers in different offshoots of sustainable tourism are gaining unique experience through a joint program of the University of North Texas (UNT) and Costa Rica’s Higher Education and Research Center (CATIE), in Turrialba, Costa Rica. The program allows graduate students to earn a joint degree from UNT and CATIE. Students spend the first year at UNT in Denton, Texas, and the second at CATIE. The program launched last fall with six students. Those students, now in Costa Rica, are expected to receive their degrees in May 2012. The next group of students, about 10 to 12 in number, will soon begin the program at UNT. Students graduating from the program will earn a Master of Science degree in International Sustainable Tourism (MIST). According to Daniel Spears, Ph.D., assistant professor of Hospitality Management at UNT, and who teaches most of the MIST courses, the first year of the joint program has gone “extremely well.” “It’s the only program like it in the world,” Spears said.
NAPA, CALIF.—Francis Ford Coppola’s resorts in Belize, Blancaneaux Lodge and Turtle Inn, have formalized two strategic alliances that further the company’s commitment and dedication to fostering best practices in ecotourism and sustainable travel. Blancaneaux Lodge and Turtle Inn have joined the Sustainable Tourism Program led by the Rainforest Alliance, the international nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to helping businesses develop and implement practices spanning sustainable forestry, agriculture, tourism, climate and education.
DENVER—Xanterra Parks & Resorts is making significant progress toward reaching environmental goals outlined in its 2015 Environmental Vision, a set of aggressive environmental performance goals. The operator of lodging and concessions in national parks and resorts around the country spelled out its progress using environmental performance metrics, called “Ecometrix.” The company’s achievements and measurable progress toward its environmental goals are detailed in the company’s fourth Environmental Sustainability Report. In the report, Xanterra’s president and CEO, Andrew Todd, wrote about the devastation brought about by recent environmental disasters, such as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Todd cited Xanterra’s attempts “to find ways to reduce our fossil fuel consumption and associated carbon footprint, doing our part to indirectly prevent future environmental catastrophes.” Xanterra’s mission is simple, he added. Not only has it already begun programs that leave a “softer footprint,” but it also has a 2015 Environmental Vision with goals that “articulate how this vision relates to energy, carbon emissions, waste, sustainable design, sustainable foods, transportation and water.”
ITHACA, N.Y.—A study of more than 500 business and leisure travelers, which appears in the August 2011 issue of the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly (CQ), is one of only a few studies that capture leisure travelers’ preferences regarding sustainability in hotels. However, the study found few preference differences between business and leisure travelers. Top on the list of features for this group of travelers was green certification. The article, “Hotel Guests’ Preferences for Green Guest Room Attributes,” by Michelle Millar and Seyhmus Baloglu, is available at no charge at, by arrangement with Sage Publishing, which publishes the CQ on behalf of the Center for Hospitality Research at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. Millar, of the University of San Francisco, and Baloglu, of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, used a market research technique known as conjoint analysis to determine the travelers’ preferences for the following seven sustainable practices: recycling policy, shampoo amenities, lighting control, energy efficient light bulbs, towel policy, linen policy, and green certification by an outside agency.
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