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Sustainable Travel

GSTC ensures sustainable tourism

The corporate world is increasingly concerned with sustainability. Authoritative bodies, including the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), can help corporate travel managers make informed choices in the selection of venues for business meetings and functions

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The GSTC was established as a council member of the United Nations Foundation in a bid to achieve global sustainable tourism. Obviously, corporate travel and entertaining uses many of the venues that are also on the tourist map and increasing awareness on behalf of the corporate world means that the GSTC is a useful body for reference when trying to design an international meeting or event. The primary purpose of the GSTC is to ensure that all destinations recommended by them fulfil certain key criteria, which include, “the necessity to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources while ensuring that tourism meets its potential as a tool for conservation and poverty alleviation”.

US corporate travel is rising once more, following the 2009 dip, but the sector has undergone significant changes, with an increasing use of digital communications and technological innovation. In their latest report, travel management consultants, Advito, indicate that, “demand for corporate travel will continue to climb in 2012. A Morgan Stanley survey released in November 2011 points out that 63 percent of respondents expect travel budgets to increase in 2012 and 64 percent expect bookings to grow”. These figures highlight the importance of business travel and the GSTC could become a key player in helping corporate travel managers decide where they should organise their next event.

In January the GSTC published its Recognised Standards Guide. Among the companies to sign up were Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, Sabre Holdings, TUI Travel and Amadeus.

Countries that have signed up and are approved by the guide include, Australia (Ecotourism Australia), Ireland (Ecotourism Ireland) and Fair Trade in Tourism for South Africa.

In April the Association Meetings International (AMI) group published an article on sustainability and its importance to the business travel market. Guy Bigwood, from the MCI Group management firm, has produced a report called, The Event Organisers Sector Supplement (EOSS), the purpose of which is to, “help event organisers report their sustainability performance and help them provide qualitative and quantitative information on sustainability issues.” This complex report highlights many reasons why corporate travel organisers should think about sustainable travel when planning a function and appears to be echoing the thoughts and direction taken by the GSTC.

In shops and offices throughout the UK, the slogans and information about sustainability are manifest and the importance of maintaining cultural and environmental integrity is now viewed as mainstream rather than a fringe activity. Over the last decade an increasing number of shareholders and consumers have indicated their wish for the corporate world to consider the broader implications of their actions. As a result, a company that follows the GSTC guidelines when organising its corporate events may well find it advantageous for both the planet and its balance sheet.

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