The awards ceremony for European Tourism Indicators System (ETIS) prizes took place in Brussels, last Friday, April 22. Among a total of 12 European tourism destinations who won prizes for the sustainable and accessible management of tourism, including environmental effects, was Dark Sky® Alqueva, in Category 2, ETIS Social and Impact Achiever, the only representative from Portugal.
Dark Sky® Alqueva, with its network of local, regional and national partners, has embraced the implementation of ETIS since 2013 and fulfilled the two phases of tests put in place by DG Grow of the European Commission, having successfully completed the seven steps that make up the system.
The results obtained allow for better orientation of strategies and provide fundamental data for the integrated management of the Dark Sky® Alqueva destination.
It is an important award for the programme at the present moment when the fight against light pollution is intensifying and naturally it is necessary that the theme is considered a priority in the development of this tourism destination. This message is clearly transmitted in the award of the prize and was referred to by several speakers on a number of occasions during the ceremony.
During the event, Luigi Cabrini, the President of the Global Sustainable Development Council of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), and principal speaker, indicated that “ETIS intends to create clear standards which will help us to define, in a measurable form, what sustainable tourism really means. These winning tourism destinations have ensured that tourism works in favour of both local communities and visitors alike, bringing financial and cultural benefits while at the same time minimizing negative social and environmental impacts.”
A new “box of tools” was introduced at the ETIS 2016 awards ceremony as a tangible contribution from the European Commission, having in view the UNWTO International Year of Sustainable Tourism in 2017. This new toolbox, which includes 43 principal indicators and a number of supplementary indicators, was developed during pilot phases and is available in all the official EU languages to allow European tourism destinations to monitor, measure and improve the practices of sustainable tourism.