Rika Jean Francois, the CSR commissioner of ITB Berlin, has been newly appointed to the board of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and on behalf of the World’s Largest Travel Trade Show took part as a speaker in the annual global conference of the GSTC on the Azores.
Sustainability, climate change and environmental protection have always been matters of great importance to ITB Berlin, not just since the Fridays for Future movement. With its involvement in numerous initiatives the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show has been campaigning for sustainable and socially responsible tourism for many years now. Together with other international tourism industry players, Rika Jean Francois, the CSR commissioner of ITB, set the tone at the annual global conference of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (www.gstcouncil.org) by taking part in one of the numerous panel discussions reflecting on the organisation’s work. The main question was how to approach the marketing of high-quality sustainable tourism products in order to ensure a positive image and acceptance among consumers. The slogan of the GSTC Global Conference 2019, which took place in early December on the island of Terceira in the Azores, was ’Navigating the way forward in sustainable tourism’. The participants examined the status quo and had come together in these times of climate change in order to jointly develop ideas for a viable, sustainable future in tourism.
At the end of the conference the participants planted around 2,000 trees in the island’s interior to help offset the carbon footprint of the event.
The GSTC is a non-profit organisation that establishes and manages global standards for sustainable tourism. The criteria, which ITB emphatically supports, were first established in 2008 by an alliance of the UNEP, Rainforest Alliance, UNWTO and the UN Foundation. They consist of comprehensive, freely available guidelines which destinations and private tourism enterprises can use to integrate sustainability in their business strategy and protect and preserve the natural beauty and cultural heritage of our planet.
“We are proud to be members of this outstanding council. For tourism to justify its role in the future it needs to be shaped by social responsibility and be redefined“, said Rika Jean Francois after attending her first session as a board member.
Social responsibility in tourism will be a key subject again at ITB Berlin 2020. The growing number of workshops and seminars on sustainable tourism topics have been helping to shape awareness for many years now. The ITB Berlin Convention is also a driving force here. The prospects and best practices of a forward-looking sustainable tourism industry will be on the agenda of the ITB CSR Day on Friday, 6 March 2020 at the City Cube Berlin, Room A1. In his keynote speech (11 - 11.45 a.m.) Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, a leading international climate researcher, will outline the current situation and courses of action that need to be taken. Afterwards, a Hotseat event is scheduled at which Fridays for Future activists will confront tourism professionals on the subject of ‘Flight shame’ (12 -12.45 p.m.), among other topics. At the Studiosus discussion (1 – 1.45 p.m.) participants will face critical questions, including whether in the face of climate change we can still afford to travel, and what responsibilities tour operators bear.