Aiming to support sustainable tourism practices, the City of Athens Development and Destination Management Agency (EATA) has joined the Global Sustainable Tourism Council – GSTC as a destination member.
“We applaud EATA for taking this important step to focus on sustainable tourism development, putting in place meaningful programs to engage with the stakeholders in order to push for ever-more sustainable tourism offerings in Athens,” said GSTC CEO Randy Durband.
Established in 2010 at the initiative of 32 global organisations dedicated to sustainable development, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council establishes and manages global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, known as the GSTC Criteria, which form the foundation accreditation for certification bodies that certify hotels/accommodations, tour operators/transport providers, and destinations as having sustainable policies and practices in place.
“This partnership will help EATA guide the local tourism sector toward our sustainability goals. We wish to do more to protect our cultural heritage and encourage tourism businesses participate in the award-winning strategy developed by the municipality for the climate,” EATA CEO Vaggelis Vlachos said.
The Municipality of Athens is carrying out an ambitious plan for the city’s sustainable development that includes the revamp of landmark sites, cleanup operations in central locations and neighborhoods, as well as the creation and maintainance of parks with the use of sustainable materials and practices.
The municipality recently opened a new “pocket park”, a small green area in the heart of Kolonos district, and announced the revamp of Strefi hill, a park located in the neighborhood of Exarchia near the capital’s center.
“Athens is rebuilding squares, streets, and sidewalks to ensure that they are accessible and ready for sustainable transportation. We can right-size our industry to reduce pressure from overtourism [in the future],” Vlachos added.
The GSTC also conducts destination assessments focusing on four main categories of destination sustainability: destination management and governance; economic benefits to local communities; protection of cultural heritage, community, and visitor wellbeing; environmental protection and conservation.