GENEVA, Switzerland – Dr. Ghassan Aidi, president of IH&RA, announced today that on October 6, 2008, the United Nations Foundation founder and chairman Ted Turner joined IH&RA and other organizations, the Rainforest Alliance, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to announce the first-ever, globally-relevant, sustainable-tourism criteria at the IUCN World Conservation Congress. The new criteria – based on thousands of best practices culled from the existing standards currently in use around the world – were developed to offer a common framework to guide the emerging practice of sustainable tourism and to help businesses, consumers, governments, non-governmental organizations, and education institutions to ensure that tourism helps, rather than harms, local communities and the environment.
“We did launch our criteria based on the Global Criteria during our Congress in Mexico on October 20, 2008,” said Ghassan Aidi, IH&RA’s president. He added, “We are going by next year to start to certify hotels members of IH&RA, respecting these criteria to help implementing them.
“We are one of the fastest-growing industries and a strong contributor to sustainable development and to stop poverty in the world, with a forecast of 1.6 billion tourists by the year 2020. In order to minimize the negative impacts of this growth, sustainability should translate from words to facts. We will start certifying our members starting next year as applying the criteria for sustainable development and will be under the Label of Emeraude Hotelier. Our industry, the hospitality industry, needs these criteria to educate owners, developers, operators, and consumers,” clarified the president of IH&RA.
Available at our site very soon (www.ih-ra.com), these criteria focus on four areas experts recommend as the most critical aspects of sustainable tourism: maximizing tourism’s social and economic benefits to local communities; reducing negative impacts on cultural heritage, reducing harm to local environments, and planning for sustainability. The GSTC Partnership is developing educational materials and technical tools to guide hotels and tour operators in implementing the criteria.
The International Hotel & Restaurant Association (IH&RA) is the only global business organization representing the hospitality worldwide. Its members are the national hotel and restaurant associations throughout the world and international and national hotel and restaurant chains representing some 50 brands. Officially recognized by the United Nations, IH&RA monitors and lobbies all international agencies on behalf of this industry, estimated to include 300,000 hotels and 8 million restaurants, employing 60 million people and contributing with US$950 billion annually to the global economy
About the Partnership for Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria
The Partnership for Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC Partnership) is a coalition of 27 organizations working together to foster increased understanding of sustainable tourism practices and the adoption of universal sustainable tourism principles. The Partnership was initiated by the Rainforest Alliance, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the United Nations Foundation and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and joined by International Hotel & Restaurant Association (IH&RA), the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST), Choice Hotels, Conde Nast Traveler, Conservation International (CI), ECOTRANS, Expedia Inc., Federation of Tour Operators (FTO), HM Design, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, Instituto do Hospitalidade, The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Kenyan Ecotourism Society, The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), Solimar International, Sustainable Travel International (STI), the International Ecotourism Society (TIES), Tourism Concern, Travelocity/Sabre, and VISIT.