A consultative zoom meeting between the Economic Cooperation Organization and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) was held on 23rd August 2022. During the meeting, while GSTC was represented by Mr. Ioannis Pappas, GSTC Director for Mediterranean Region and Mr. CB Ramkumar, GSTC Regional Director of South Asia, the ECO Secretariat delegation was headed by Mr. Jasur Rajabov, Director for Tourism.
During the meeting, while GSTC was represented by Mr. Ioannis Pappas, GSTC Director for Mediterranean Region and Mr. CB Ramkumar, GSTC Regional Director of South Asia, the ECO Secretariat delegation was headed by Mr. Jasur Rajabov, Director for Tourism.
While inaugurating the meeting and welcoming the participants, Director for Tourism underlined importance of constructive role being played by GSTC for achieving sustainable tourism standards globally and mentioned that exchanging views on this matter will facilitate to get a better understanding about development and implementation of sustainable tourism standards in the ECO region.
Development of the recommendation on harmonization of tourism standards and establishment of the mechanism to certify experts on sustainable tourism, as well as jointly holding training courses to the tourism stakeholders in the region were indicated as possible areas of cooperation during the presentation given by the Tourism Directorate on the activities being carried out in the tourism sector.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Ioannis Pappas, GSTC Director in Mediterranean Region expressed his deep gratitude for showing interest of collaboration in the field of promotion of travel and tourism sector. While introducing Global Sustainable Tourism Council he stated it is an independent and neutral, legally registered in the USA as a non-profit organization, that represents a diverse and global membership. It includes national and provincial governments, leading travel companies, hotels, tour operators, NGO’s, individuals and communities and all striving to achieve best practices in sustainable tourism. He further stated that it establishes and manages global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, known as the GSTC Criteria. There are two sets i.e., Destination Criteria for public policy-makers and destination managers and Industry Criteria for hotels and tour operators.
Mr. CB Ramkumar, GSTC Director of South Asia stated that GSTC does not directly certify any products or services but provides an accreditation program through its partner Assurance Services International to accredit Certification Bodies. He further elaborated about membership categories and fees, how to become a member of GSTC and GSTC sustainable tourism course. Mr. Ramkumar underscored the adoption of common criteria in the region as an instant step towards achieving global sustainable tourism standards and due to strong relationship between the GSTC Criteria and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposed ECO Region may consider uptaking the GSTC Criteria applicable to every country as a shortcut to meet the UN SDGs.
He also delved into the efforts and services provided by GSTC for global awareness-raising and increasing knowledge through trainings to ensure that sustainable tourism best practices are adopted and implemented by the industry and the traveling public.
The main objective of the meeting was to collaborate with each other and to start dialogue/discussions and to share proposals/ideas towards promotion of travel and tourism sector in the ECO region. The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere. It was agreed to further collaborate for advancement of sustainable tourism in the region and development of the quality of tourism services and the work force.