Sustainable Tourism Certifications: A master key to generate opportunities in the European market

More than 130 attendees from ProColombia, ACOTUR and Colombia+Competitiva meet to discuss the relevance of certifications in sustainable tourism, as a key component to access the European market.

Sustainable Tourism Certifications: A master key to generate opportunities in the European market

On June 16, 2023, the Swiss Import Promotion Program - SIPPO Colombia; held the workshop “Strengthening capacities for the implementation of sustainable tourism seals and certifications and Guiding Principles for Sustainable Trade SIPPO”, with the aim of supporting BSOs in strengthening their capacities on the benefits that seals and certifications bring in sustainable tourism, for successful access to the European market.

During the development of the workshop, consultant Mirjam Moine highlighted that sustainable tourism cannot be seen as a market niche, but on the contrary, sustainability must be seen as a transversal element. That is why SIPPO developed the Guiding Principles on Sustainable Tourism, which serve as a guide for the implementation of responsible business practices, both for the BSO and for companies they work with.

In the tourism sector there is a proliferation of sustainability initiatives and standards, with more than 150 different sustainability labels in use around the world, so it has become a challenge for consumers and business owners to discern their relevance. Some of the main sustainability certifications in the tourism sector are: Biosphere Responsible Tourism: This label certifies tourist companies and destinations, with more than 100 certified companies around the world, including in Germany, the United Kingdom and several South American countries; EarthCheck: takes a holistic approach to sustainability and certifies both businesses and tourist destinations. It has more than 1,200 certified companies around the world. Green Globe: assesses the sustainability of travel and tourism companies and their supply chain partners. It has more than 600 certified companies around the world. Travelife: offers certification for hotels and accommodations as well as for tour operators and travel agencies. It has a global presence, with more than 700 hotels and 220 certified tour operators. TourCert: grants certifications to tour operators, travel agencies, accommodations and entire destinations. It is especially strong in Germany, Switzerland and Latin America, with more than 100 certified companies and destinations.

Choose service providers committed to sustainable tourism practices in their business; favor low-impact activities that are less harmful to the planet, such as: outdoor sports, hiking, cycling, rural tourism, wildlife observation, cultural activities; engage more fully with local communities through community-based tourism activities etc; these are trends that are ruling the market at the moment.

Due to phenomena such as the pandemic or climate change, there has been a constant change in consumer habits, which are not foreign to the tourism sector. In this sense, and although they are not mandatory, sustainable tourism seals and certifications are being increasingly requested by buyers in the European market, when choosing their next destination.

The adoption of seals and certifications in sustainable tourism is a way to guarantee the development of a responsible practice with communities and the environment. In the same way, for the entrepreneur it also represents benefits such as reducing operating costs, adequate risk management, compliance with new regulatory requirements, gaining competitiveness in the market by creating differentiated experiences or protecting your business. through caring for the environment, generating a brand and reputation, easier access to capital investments, among many others.

In conclusion, it was recommended to review in great detail the objective that each company wants to achieve by adopting a seal or certification, in order to implement the one that best suits its expectations.

The complete workshop is on the SIPPO Colombia YouTube channel:

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