After two years without an on-site GSTC Conference due to the pandemic, the 2022 GSTC Asia-Pacific Conference took place in Saemangeum, Gunsan, Jeonbuk, Korea, from September 15-17. The conference brought together Korean and international tourism stakeholders involved in the development and promotion of sustainable travel & tourism, including the public sector, hotels, tour operators, corporates, OTAs, academia, NGOs, consultants, and more. The Conference themes were (A) Attraction & Destination Stewardship, (B) MICE & Hotels, and (C) Ecotourism & Heritage.
“During the last two and a half years, tourism suffered an unprecedented crisis with a drop of three-quarters of its international flows. Never before has tourism made such a loss. As a comparison, the SARS epidemic in 2002 and the economic and financial crisis of 2008 caused a reduction of international tourists of less than 10%. But past esteem shows the tourist rebounds as soon as the conditions return to normal and international tourism is already consolidating a strong recovery despite many challenges. Tourism saw a strong growth in the first half of 2022, reaching almost half the level of the same period in pre-pandemic in 2019. International tourist arrival more than tripled over the same period of 2021, and nearly 250,000,000 international trips were recorded worldwide through May this year,” said GSTC Chair, Mr. Luigi Cabrini. “Our challenge and the GSTC mission is to enhance positive economic and social benefit to the level where they overcome their negative impacts.”
“Our organization is now 15 years old. Starting from the first version of the GSTC Industry Criteria in 2008, we expanded and consolidated a system of standards that is now recognized as the main reference internationally. Though we remain a small organization, our influence is spreading and we are proud of the results achieved in the search for solutions to fill the gaps that prevent an effective pursuit of sustainable tourism. During the pandemic, GSTC grew stronger. Key public and private organizations joined as members. More professionals followed our training course and webinars. More governments through the tourism authorities adopted the global criteria as a reference for future strategies. More leading companies and destinations trust our methodologies. Working at the World Tourism Organization, I’ve seen many initiatives on sustainable tourism, but GSTC is the most successful and resilient,” concluded Mr. Cabrini.
Mr. Caesar Indra, President of Traveloka, delivered a keynote speech on transforming operations to be more adaptable and sustainable, both socially and environmentally. “The pandemic has presented a “reset moment” in the travel industry – to address long-standing challenges while also seizing new opportunities – using technology to ease travel activities, encourage environmentally-friendly behavior, and empower local communities. This complex crisis will need all of us – the governments, the private sector, the investors and the community, to reform and transform the way we collaborate and partner; to create programs, policies, regulations for sustainable tourism to become mainstream.”
“There are many examples that show how a society thrives after a major crisis, becoming more resilient as we learn from our own journey, and to innovate and transform to become better. It is solely up to us, this society, to decide the future that we are going to be in,” concluded Mr. Indra.
Speakers from Asia-Pacific shared insights and discussed the following topics: NTOs & DMOs Partnering with the Private Sector; Managing Visitor Flow; Attraction Criteria Consultation Workshop; Small MICE: Business Retreats and Small Meetings; Sustainable Management Systems for Hotels; MICE Criteria Consultation Workshop; Wonders in Tourism & Heritage; Ecotourism Businesses Benefiting Communities. During the conference, two workshops were carried out for the development of MICE Criteria and Attraction Criteria.
As with previous GSTC Conferences, sustainable event practices were carried out. This included minimal printing, badges made of recyclable paper, and reusable bottles were given out for refill at various water stations. Backdrops were made from paper material instead of plastic. Vegetarian meal was the default meal option, with no lamb and beef, which have the highest carbon footprint.
After the 2-day conference, participants joined a complimentary tour of Jeonju Hanok Village. Jeonju is a historical spot, known for its traditional housing structures. After a walking tour of Gyeonggijeon shrine, there was an opportunity to experience traditional clothing known as hanbok.
Upcoming GSTC2022 Global Conference in Sevilla, Spain (12-15 Dec 2022)
The GSTC2022 Global Sustainable Tourism Conference (#GSTC2022) will be hosted in the beautiful historic city of Sevilla, Spain, from 12-15 December 2022. Superb thought-leading speakers from around the world will share their insights on topics such as ‘Sustainable Hospitality’, ‘Adaptation to Climate Change’, ‘Mainstreaming Sustainability Standards’, and ‘Destination Stewardship’ in an interactive program. An onsite GSTC Sustainable Tourism Course will take place prior to the Conference (Dec 11th-12th). Learn more and register.