Washington, DC, November 3 2017. A new sustainability standard for mountain area tourist destinations has been recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). The new standard rating, called the Mountain IDEAL Standard, has been developed to address sustainability in mountain environments that are tourist destinations in both winter and summer seasons.
The unique challenges of these ecosystems include issues such as water and energy use related to snow making and snow melting systems; affordable housing for residents and seasonal employees; collaborating with National Park managers and the business community; and embracing mountain cultural heritage.
“The goal of Mountain IDEAL Standard is to elevate collaborative sustainability performance and share best-practices across mountain resort communities” said Kim Langmaid, one of the key players in establishing the new standard.
The non-profit Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) establishes and manages global sustainable tourism standards with the aim of increasing sustainable tourism knowledge and practices among public and private stakeholders.
GSTC lays down selected criteria for certification programs that certify hotels, resorts, tour operators and destinations as having sustainable policies and practices in place. Interested bodies such as Sustainable Travel International, Walking Mountains Science Center, and others have collaborated on the development of the Mountain IDEAL destination standard, which has been given GSTC-Recognised status. GSTC is also currently looking to review a new Walking Mountains Actively Green industry standard.
All GSTC standards use two sets of criteria: Destination Criteria and Industry Criteria. It lays down minimum requirements for tourism businesses and destinations in order to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources, along with conservation and poverty alleviation. With a membership including UN agencies, leading travel companies, hotels, country tourism boards, tour operators, individuals and communities, the organisation says it strives to achieve best practices across all aspects of sustainable tourism.
“GSTC recognition of any standard means that it includes the four pillars of sustainability: management, social/community, cultural, and environmental issues. The Mountain IDEAL Standard requires mountain resort communities to work to improve in all those four areas,” said Randy Durband, GSTC CEO.
To date, seven destination standards, and 28 hotels and tour operator’s standards have achieved GSTC-recognised status. The organisation said it will continue to work with organisations around the world to provide GSTC Recognition of standards for sustainability in travel and tourism.