University of Surrey Educates the European Parliament on the future of Sustainable Tourism

The University of Surrey presented their latest manual on Sustainable Tourism to the European Parliament this month, which aims to help stakeholders make better tourism management decisions and improve the sustainability of their destinations.

Professor Xavier Font, Professor of Sustainability Marketing at the University of Surrey’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, presented the manual entitled Sustainable Tourism Indicators: Manual of Transfer of Best Practices at the European Parliament on 8 November in collaboration with the European Tourism Indicator System (ETIS).

ETIS is a voluntary system designed by Surrey’s Professor Graham Miller, Professor of Sustainability in Business, for the European Commission. Since 2013, it has been used across Europe and beyond to collect data on issues that affect the sustainability and competitiveness of the places people live and visit and looks at indicators of sustainable tourism and measurement practices. Participating destinations have experienced positive economic, environmental and social impact such as increased recycling rates, accessibility improvements for disabled tourists and more women working in the tourism profession.

The high-profile meeting was part of the EU Interreg Mitomed+ project, and results were presented to a wide stakeholder audience including politicians, civil servants and development officials including István Ujhelyi, Vice Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee of Transport and Tourism and Chairman of the Tourism Task Force.

The manual is designed to help a wide range of tourism policy stakeholders to implement the ETIS system, identifying useful sustainability indicators for their destinations and using this data to make more informed policy decisions. The manual covers 20 individual case studies that include enabling a Green Scheme in Slovenia, improving waste management in Majorca, standardizing statistical data production in Barcelona and building stakeholder trust in Crete.

Professor Font will now focus on identifying how many of the original tourist destinations have adapted the system to their needs, and the effect of this usage. He is also exploring the extent to which impact can be driven into new destinations and how to focus and support this drive.

Professor Font said: “This event was important in providing further evidence of how sustainability indicators can be used for tourist destination governance. Mitomed+ expands on the foundations laid by ETIS, by providing the know-how and technological platform to systematically collect and compare sustainability indicators across European destinations.”

Professor Miller said: “The first step is really for destinations to accept the need for continuous improvement by beginning to measure their impacts. Once they know how they are performing then they can change their policies, actions, budgets, and staffing to become more sustainable and competitive.”

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