Here’s big news regarding sustainable tourism in Peru. The Destination Cusco-Sacred Valley-Machu Picchu, Peru, known locally as the Cusco region and globally for the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu and City of Cusco World Heritage Sites, has completed the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s (GSTC) Early Adopters pilot program to test its new Criteria and Indicators for Destinations. The Cusco region is one of Peru’s most visited tourist destinations, and joins the Chilean destination of Lake Llanquihue as the first South American destinations to participate in and complete the GSTC Early Adopters program.The Early Adopters program is overseen by GSTC’s Destination Working Group and managed by NGO partner Sustainable Travel International (STI). The Destination Criteria complement the existing GSTC Criteria for Hotels and Tour Operators, which is the worldwide sustainability standard for tourism businesses.Tourism is a key driver of the Cusco region’s economy, as it is the second largest foreign exchange earner. It sits 3,399 meters above sea level in the heart of the Andes and was once the center of the Inca Empire. It is widely considered the archaeological capital of the Americas due to its unique blend of colonial and ancient Inca architecture.“The Cusco Region’s leadership in sustainable destination management is truly noteworthy,” said GSTC Chair Kelly Bricker. “This iconic South American destination is demonstrating true global leadership in adopting the GSTC’s baseline Criteria and Indicators for Destinations,” she said.
“The outcomes of the GSTC Early Adopter Program will help us to prioritize the development of a regional destination sustainability action agenda for Cusco, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. This is an important first step for our destination,” said Fernando Santoyo Vargas, director of Cusco Destination Management Organization.
Sustainable Travel International conducted an on-site evaluation in the Cusco region over a period of 10 business days. The lead sustainable destination specialist met with key stakeholders involved in tourism, environmental conservation, heritage protection, physical planning, and the provision of utilities. A small working group was established consisting of MINCETUR, Swisscontact Peru and DMO Cusco. In addition, a number of focus group meetings were held with the tourism private sector, environment and utilities experts, and tourism marketing and management staff, which included a comprehensive review of the legislative and policy framework relevant to the GSTC Destination Criteria. A total of 41 leading organizations and local leaders from the tourism sector were consulted.
A comprehensive report was provided by Sustainable Travel International, which included key sustainability areas covered by the GSTC Destination Criteria that the destination can improve upon based on the findings. Stakeholders in the destination participated in the validation of the report and the Criteria and Indicators development process by providing their feedback for improving the GSTC Destination Criteria.
Once feedback has been collected from the Early Adopter destinations and synthesized, the GSTC will develop and distribute a final version of the Criteria and Indicators for Destinations. The final version is expected in November 2013.
About the GSTC
The Global Sustainable Tourism Council is a global initiative dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism efforts around the world. Housed within the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the GSTC works to expand understanding of and access to sustainable tourism practices; helps identify and generate markets for sustainable tourism; and educates about and advocates for a set of universal principles, as defined by the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria. The Criteria, a set of voluntary principles that provide a framework for the sustainability of tourism businesses across the globe, is the cornerstone of our initiative. For more information, visit http://www.gstcouncil.
About the GSTC Destination Criteria
A panel of business owners, academics, government officials, and other experts, who examined the UN World Tourism Organization’s Indicators of Sustainable Development and other such guidelines currently in existence, developed the GSTC’s Destination Criteria. Because the criteria are intended to describe a globally applicable set of minimum steps needed to approach sustainability, the criteria are seen as a baseline that each destination should add to or adjust as needed.
The GSTC does not aim to certify destinations as sustainable; rather, the Council will review existing destination-level certification standards and recognize those that meet their criteria. However, any destination will be able to use the new criteria as a guide to becoming environmentally, culturally, and socially sustainable.
About Sustainable Travel International