STI News


Since 2013, Sustainable Travel International has been working closely with the Arawak and Carib indigenous communities in the Para district of Suriname to identify tourism products that highlight their unique culture. These included a small visitor center highlighting traditional music, a guided tour of a medicinal garden, a tour of a local pineapple farm, and a visitor center where international and domestic visitors can learn more about the Arawak language.

The products were pooled together to create a tourism circuit in the region which will provide much needed jobs for young people and will help to stimulate the growth of small and medium enterprises. Connecting this tourism circuit with local and international tour operators from the onset was important to establish a demand channel.

In July, 2014, Seleni Matus, Sustainable Travel International’s Vice President of Latin America and the Caribbean, met with the community leaders of the Para district to find out how the tourism circuit was faring. The good news was shared by Captain Makosi from Powakka that the first tour group had come through their community and had the opportunity to make traditional cassava bread and tour the village guided by a community leader. The tour was so successful that it has now been included in one of the Netherland’s main tour operators itineraries.

“Captain Makosi of the Powakka community, and the other communities in the Para district, are very excited for what sustainably managed tourism can accomplish to support their livelihoods and contribute to the conservation of their cultural heritage,” shared Seleni.

Sustainable Brands '14 London

Sustainable Brands ’14 London – Brands are forming a new conception of what’s possible and looking for opportunities to re-design every aspect of their business. Doing less bad is not enough in tomorrow’s economy. Brand leaders today are seeking regenerative business models that create positive net impact. Join the assembly of global thought leaders and practitioners who are demonstrating the many ways brand leaders are succeeding by contributing to a thriving global economy – with health, dignity and happiness for all.
The Sustainable Brands community continues at the forefront of brand innovation as regenerative models make their way into mainstream business. Join over 1,000 attendees in sessions, workshops, plenaries, evening events, and co-create sessions. Collaborate with market-making companies such as Unilever, Coca-Cola, MARS, Target plus others as peers and colleagues gather for the largest annual Sustainable Brands community event this coming November in London. Take part in innovation studios and experiential brand-activation activities, an expanded exhibitor hub, research roundtables, and more.
Sustainable Brands’ mission is to inspire, engage, and equip brand leaders to find new ways to drive business and brand value by innovating for improved environmental, social and economic impact. This community of business leaders will show you how to build shared vision, leverage new technologies, and implement ideas that contribute to the collective health of individuals, organizations, and economies alike. Registration is now open and sponsorship and volunteer opportunities are available. For details as they unfold, visit or call 415.626.2212. Lancaster London, London, UK. November 3-5, 2014.

Through an exclusive partnership with Sustainable Travel International, Sustainable Brands is offering our readers a 20% discount on registration fees. Discount Code: NWstiSB14L

World Summit Destinations for All

In Montreal, from October 19th to 22nd 2014, the World Summit Destinations for All 2014 will bring together the world’s experts and practitioners in accessible tourism.  The reality of accessible transportation and travel presents many challenges to about one billion people who are currently living with a disability. This number represents approximately fifteen percent of the world population that currently have a handicap and limited accessibility in tourist destinations. The Summit aims to develop a global partnership and a common international strategy to evolve towards a universal access to infrastructure and services in the fields of tourism, culture and transportation. It also aims to achieve significant progress in establishing a set of principles and international standards in accessible tourism, culture and transportation.

The Summit will open to statements by: Mr. Carlos Vogeler, General Secretary of the UNWTO, a world tourism organization, Ms. Daniela Bas from the United Nations and Mrs. Marina Diotallevi also from UNTWO. Many prestigious speakers will also attend the Summit and cover important subjects such as accessible destinations, local transportations and taxis, standards and buildings, access to culture and many more.

In the transportation business, speakers like Ann Frye, an international specialist in transportation for handicapped and senior people, and co-president of the international committee for accessible transportation of the U. S. Transportation Research Board will talk about how to achieve compatible accessibility standards in air travel.

Jay Cardinali, Worldwide Accessibility Manager for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts will explain the magic experience. The Disney Resorts and Parks are among the best accessible destinations and are an example to follow, in which he will explain to delegates  how and why.
Those are only a few examples of the exciting topics and the speakers at the World Summit Destinations for All 2014.

If you would like to know more about the program of the Summit, please visit our website.

Sustainable Travel International will be attending the Destinations for All event. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if you would like to arrange a time to meet.

Travelers Intelligence

Millions of traveler-generated data points are available on the internet which, when processed and analyzed, can illuminate marketing strategies and improve decision making for destinations and travel organizations.

Sustainable Travel International’s new Travelers Intelligence™ tool combines our team’s evaluation expertise with cutting-edge data aggregator software from Predicta to help the travel and tourism industry better understand the relationship and emotional connections that consumers have with sustainability initiatives, product experiences, and marketing messaging.

With better information about travelers in hand, the travel and tourism industry is poised to harness the power of tourism as a force for good. Learn more here.

Building A Better Future Through Tourism

"I am fundamentally optimistic about the power of tourism to change the world," President Bill Clinton told delegates at the WTTC Global Summit in 2013. And so is Sustainable Travel International. Our work helps people build a better future through tourism. We build partnerships, share knowledge, and design tools to make tourism more beneficial for everyone..

According to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourist arrivals grew by 5% in 2013, reaching a record 1.08 billion global visitors last year. With an expected increase of 4% in 2014, it is more important than ever for us to take stock of the impact our industry is having on our planet, and assess whether or not we are prepared to manage it well and sustain it for future generations.

Many of us have seen our favorite travel destinations succumb to poorly managed tourism over the years, leaving them vulnerable to issues like climate change, cultural erosion, and unsustainable development. However, we have also seen tourism create job opportunities and economic growth in otherwise economically disadvantaged destinations. We have witnessed conservation driven tourism programs that are preserving our natural environments and supporting the recovery of threatened species, rather than destroying them. So the question is, how do we ensure that the power of tourism is a dominant force for good within the industry? How do we take these positive impacts to scale?

With the guidance and implementation support of Sustainable Travel International, several leading organizations recently joined forces to address the challenges tourism can create head-on by helping destinations in the Caribbean and Latin America to safeguard their natural and cultural assets, while creating vibrant regional economies. This collaborative initiative, the Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas (SDAA), marks the largest-scale effort to date through which public and private entities have united to focus on destination sustainability in the Americas.

The SDAA, over the next three years, will offer 30 destinations in the Caribbean and Latin America significant support with their sustainability efforts. Through destination-level assessments, action planning, training, and monitoring tools, each participating destination will be equipped with the information and resources they need to implement quick-win action projects and benefit from valuable expertise to inform and shape destination level policies and initiatives.

Regional initiatives like the SDAA are critical for tourism to enact positive global change at scale. I sat down with Seleni Matus, Vice President of the Caribbean and Latin America for Sustainable Travel International and former Director of Belize Tourism, to talk more about current trends in sustainable tourism and how they are being addressed.

What makes the SDAA a truly ground-breaking initiative, from your experience?

There are two things. One is the unified approach that regional organizations have agreed to, and the second is the scale at which we are planning to operate.

The approach is comprehensive, while also being superbly practical. It involves:
A destination diagnostic, which is visually impactful and allows decision makers a very quick way to understand areas of risk in their destination
A quick-win action plan that the destination can enact now, to see immediate positive change
The establishment of a Destination Stewardship Council, so work can be maintained beyond the scope of this initiative and can be an institutionalized process, to be safeguarded against the risk of changes in government
Online training course with focused on sustainable destination management
A monitoring system to track change over time support dialogue for politicians and decisions makers about ROI
A marketing program, so destinations can tell the story of why this work is critical for their destination and why sustainability supports their competitiveness in the tourism arena

This six step approach has been agreed upon and is being supported by major regional political organizations, like the OAS, the Caribbean Tourism Organization, and SITCA. Not only are regional organizations behind the SDAA - the private sector, including Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, is actively supporting this practical approach as well. There is wide consensus that this is a serious movement with great potential.

This is the first time that there has been such a vision positioned by regional organizations representing governments, private sector, and NGOs - all working together in a meaningful manner to enact change at scale. There have been other regional projects in the past, but they have had limited success and have not been sustained or expanded with this kind of reach. The SDAA initiative is the first to provide a comprehensive, practical approach to support sustainable destination management. It is designed to ensure continued success, long past the duration of the project.

What do you believe are the trends in private sector participation in destination sustainability, and why is their involvement important?

More and more, multinationals are recognizing the need to expand their CSR and environmental programs to include the destinations they serve. There has been an important recognition, within the industry, that the travel experience is created in destinations - tourism product and place are inextricably linked. While it is still important for the private sector to be looking at sustainability within their supply chains, it is also important for them to look beyond that and support work in destinations. TUI and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. are examples of the private sector doing this well. Both multinationals have implemented programs in their organizations to support destination stewardship beyond their supply chains.

Why is this important? Because the private sector can help push governments to protect their assets and attractions, and plan for well managed growth. Governments are very open to looking at issues when there is a clear signal from the private sector that an issue is important and needs to be considered. Private sector can have an important role to play here, to help influence and inspire governments and other stakeholder groups on collective work around those areas of destination sustainability that need the most attention.

What role is needed from destination organizations to make real change happen? Why?

They need to prioritize the issue of destination sustainability and make sure it is operationalised and institutionalised in the destination, to safeguard against changing governments and political agendas. This will allow destinations to sustain their efforts beyond the four or five years that a current administration has power.

How do we ensure that "sustainable tourism" becomes the norm?

By continuing to build the business case for it and helping destinations tell a compelling story about what is occurring in their destination. Like with the destinations that are part of the SDAA, we are able to help them establish positive feedback loops, through monitoring and storytelling, so that over time they can see clearly that this work is valued by both travelers and the private sector.

To engage in partnership opportunities with Sustainable Travel International, please visit or email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For more information on the Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas, please visit

(original article on Travelista)

Defining the Benefits of Destination Monitoring for Businesses, Governments, and Communities
Sustainable Travel International is undertaking a research project in collaboration with The Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise at Cornell University to define the benefits of destination monitoring for businesses, governments, and communities.  A team of second year MBA students are performing survey research in four regions of the world under the oversight of Dr. Louise Twining Ward, President of Sustainable Travel International and under the direction of Senior Professional Fellow Megan Epler Wood.  The survey, together with expert interviews, will help define the value proposition of destination monitoring for businesses and its role in contributing to sustainability decision making at the community and governmental levels. Sustainable Travel International has a comprehensive and growing set of assessment, planning and monitoring tools to make sustainable tourism more accessible and economically viable for destination managers worldwide. For more information please contact Louise Twining-Ward (
The Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas Launches

Some of the world's most popular and appealing travel destinations are in jeopardy, vulnerable to issues like climate change and unsustainable development. Several leading organizations have joined forces to address these challenges head-on by helping tourism destinations in the Caribbean and Latin America safeguard their natural and cultural assets, while enhancing communities and securing a vibrant regional economy.

The new Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas (SDAA), which was launched in March 2014, marks the largest-scale effort to date through which public and private entities have united to focus on destination sustainability in the Americas. The Alliance, convened by Sustainable Travel International, includes the Organization of American States, Caribbean Tourism Organization, leading cruise vacation company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., the United States Government through the United States Permanent Mission to the Organization of American States, and The Secretariat of Central American Tourism Integration.

The SDAA Initiative will offer seven destinations in the Caribbean and Latin America significant support with their sustainability efforts. Each participating destination will begin with an evaluation of destination management practices designed to recognize areas of strength, and to identify areas in which they have the greatest opportunity to improve. This process will be led by Sustainable Travel International, the Alliance's non-profit implementation partner. Destinations will also have access to Sustainable Travel International's online Sustainable Tourism Professionals course, which is designed to facilitate implementation of sustainability practices, and a destination sustainability monitoring framework, which will support the tracking of key performance metrics. Results and lessons learned will be disseminated regionally to leverage market advantage, and to foster greater understanding among destination decision-makers.

Sustainable Travel International will conduct assessments and establish monitoring systems in each destination using its Rapid Destination Diagnostic and Destination Monitoring System. These tools provide a snapshot of each destination's sustainability status, a summary of destination management priorities, and valuable input to inform and shape destination level projects and policies. The collaborative planning process that follows facilitates the design of priority destination enhancement projects to address areas of risk and opportunity. The monitoring component enables destination managers to track their progress and make more informed decisions. This integrated process will be a catalyst and mechanism for long-term positive change in participating destinations.

The aim is for these seven destinations to follow the successful implementation of similar pilot programs in Cozumel, Mexico and Roatan, Honduras. The Alliance plans to expand the SDAA to include more than 30 destinations in the next few years, which would make it the largest initiative of its kind in the world.

In-depth work in the first seven destinations is being financed through resources provided by the United States Permanent Mission to the Organization of American States and by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., through its Ocean Fund. Four destinations will be funded by the US Mission, and three will receive funding from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., which also recently launched a new destination-focused website and online toolkit called Destinations for Tomorrow. Destinations for Tomorrow is an educational platform targeted at coastal port destinations, to offer them the resources they need to start their sustainability journey today.

Sustainable Travel International is honored to be the leading implementer of this initiative and hopes that the successful on-the-ground impacts from it will help catalyze other regional initiatives around the world.

For more information, go to our website or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

GSTC Destination Partner Program

Over the last few years, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) has set out to attain a global consensus on sustainable tourism. To fulfill this goal, they created and pilot tested a set of destination criteria and indicators in destinations around the world through their Early Adopter Program. After the successful completion of the Early Adopter program, the GSTC launched the official GSTC-Destination Criteria in November of 2013. The criteria are organized into four main categories: sustainable management, socioeconomic impacts, cultural impacts, and environmental impacts.

With globally recognized criteria in hand, the GSTC developed their new program - The Destination Partner Program - which gives destinations a menu of options to help improve their overall business practices. These options, offered in collaboration with Sustainable Travel International, include: training, assessment, and global networking.

Sustainable Travel International and the GSTC recently gave a webinar going into more detail about the Destination Partner Program, which included guest speakers from Early Adopter destinations including Mara Naboisha in Kenya and Tourisme Lanzarote.

The GSTC Destination Partner program is currently being promoted at upcoming travel and tourism events, including PATA AGM, and TIES in Bonito Brazil.

For more information, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or read about the program on our website.

Sustainable Tourism Marketing: An Afternoon in St. Kitts

There are many misconceptions surrounding sustainable tourism marketing. If you just say something is "green" or "eco-," does that mean it is sustainable? Not necessarily. Is it important to tell all of the technical back-end processes of your sustainable tourism development work in order to inform and engage consumers successfully? Again, not necessarily.

So what is sustainable tourism marketing and how do you incorporate it into your marketing strategy?

Let's start with definitions. Sustainable tourism development supports the backbone of a destination or business product through economic benefits to host communities and preservation of the cultural and natural resources of a destination. Sustainable tourism marketing, on the other hand, is about describing the travel and tourism experiences that one can have, as an outcome of sustainable development work.

When a destination or business engages in sustainable tourism development, they are committing to investing in their tourism product's past, present and future. That is a story worth telling.

However, all of the steps engaged in sustainable destination or product development are not always valuable to the average consumer. Consumers rarely choose a destination because someone tells them that it has had a successful destination sustainability assessment or is regularly tracking and monitoring its impacts. Instead, it is the outcomes of that work that matter most to the consumer, not the process.

By finding a way to highlight those outcomes in your destination storytelling, through describing the value you place on your destination or product, you can start to engage consumers in a new way.

The island of St. Kitts, as an example, has been working with Sustainable Travel International since 2012. Since then, they have undergone a destination sustainability assessment, participated in an action planning session, completed in online training courses, and have set up an Inter-Agency Sustainable Destination Management Council to help move sustainable initiatives and projects forward in the destination. Since our partnership, visitor arrivals have increased by 3.2%. In April 2014, Sustainable Travel International joined the marketing team from the St. Kitts Tourism Authority to talk about sustainable tourism marketing and how to start incorporating it into their destination marketing strategy. The key sustainable tourism marketing learnings that we shared with them were:

  • Sustainable/responsible tourism is not a niche tourism product. It is something that should be integrated throughout all destination marketing
  • Green-washing is not sustainable tourism marketing. Try not to use words like "green", "eco-", or "sustainable" when describing your destination experiences
  • Sustainable tourism marketing should focus on story-telling. Focus on telling the story of the outcomes of sustainable tourism development, not the process
  • Education is key. The better educated your industry stakeholders are, the better informed your consumers will be

The forum with the St. Kitts Tourism Authority was a huge success. Both teams left energized and inspired to start implementing sustainable tourism marketing. Check out this St. Kitts social media post from Earth Day, which perfectly exemplifies the right way to market destination sustainability.


The Sustainable Destination Leadership Network (SDLN), the first global collaboration of its kind, convened in March at ITB in Berlin to set out the goals and vision for the network's future. SDLN was designed to facilitate peer learning and information exchange among global destination leaders. Participants work together to tackle salient challenges, share best practices, and embed sustainability into their policies, strategies, marketing, and day-to-day management of their destinations. We are excited to announce that the Colorado Tourism Office is the latest esteemed destination to join the network. Read more about it here.

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