Accommodation prioritised in ecotourism standards to grow tourism the right way

2019-03-26 10:30
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Tourism is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economic sectors, with billions of people travelling each year – and numbers are expected to grow by 3.3 % annually until 2030. 

Tourist accommodation is one of the biggest players, meaning its potential impact on sustainable development is huge.

International Organisation for Standardisation has just confirmed the new international guidance for accommodation facilities - to help them improve their impact has just been published.

Not only is tourism growing by the day, it is an industry that promotes understanding and peace between countries and cultures, provides millions of jobs and is ideally placed to contribute directly to many of the United Nations’ 17 sustainability goals.

ISO believes accommodation facilities are central to any tourism activity and therefore hold immense potential for improving their impact on the environment, promoting social exchange and contributing to local economies in a positive way. 

READ: SA's Tourism Grading Council has 17 new accolades coming into effect: Here's what you should look out for   

ISO 21401, Tourism and related services – Sustainability management system for accommodation establishments includes requirements, specifies the environmental, social and economic requirements for implementing a sustainability management system in tourist accommodation.

It also addresses issues such as human rights, health and safety for employees and guests, environmental protection, water and energy consumption, waste generation and the development of the local economy.

International Standards Goals of the UNWTO

Manuel Otero, Chair of the ISO technical committee that created the standard, said there are many initiatives in the market that accommodation providers could use to help them improve their environmental practices, but none that integrate the social and economic aspects as well, or are free from commercial interests.

“The fact that there are many schemes for sustainable accommodation from different countries and organizations can make it difficult for such facilities to know what is useful and reliable and how to meet their requirements,” he said.

“This internationally agreed standard provides clarity in a confusing market, applies to all types of accommodation and can serve as a tool to improve sustainable management. It will also help to stimulate the market for more sustainability in both the accommodation sector and the tourism industry as a whole.

”Convenor of the working group involved in the standard’s development, Alexandre Garrido added that those that implement a sustainability management system based on ISO 21401 will be able to attest to their guests and to the whole market that they are sustainable businesses.

“ISO 21401 will benefit accommodation facilities by strengthening their management and improving their reputation, while providing better-quality services to clients and improving relationships with suppliers, employees and the local community.”