A validation workshop was held at Le Meridien Barbarons, whereby a group of participating hotel representatives were introduced to the first set of Seychelles’ sustainable tourism standards.
At the workshop, Seychelles launched its Sustainable Tourism Label Program with the Chief Executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board Alain St.Ange and the government of Seychelles’ UNDP-GEF Program Coordination Unit (PCU), who had the honor of launching the country’s Sustainable Tourism Label Program at the workshop on Monday, April 18, 2011.
This label is Seychelles’ first ever sustainable tourism certification system that will encourage hotels and other tourism establishments to merge the principles of sustainability into their daily operations.
The criteria of the label are classified under eight themes comprising management, waste, water, energy, staff, conservation, community, and guests. It adopts an integrated approach to sustainability by including environmental, social, and economic components aligned to the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s criteria.
Participants of the workshop had the opportunity to deliberate on the branding and logo, as well as the proposed institutional structure for the sustainable tourism label.
The label is being further funded under the coverage of the Mainstreaming Biodiversity Management into Production Sector Activities Project of the GOS-UNDP-GEF Program.
The history of the adoption of a sustainable tourism label for the tourism industry goes back since the 1990s. The work on the label was, however, initiated by the former Ministry of Tourism in 2003 in collaboration with a Swiss master’s student who conducted a feasibility study on implementing a sustainable label for the Seychelles tourism industry. The criteria for the label was later developed from 2004-2005 by another group of university students, and further review of the criteria was undertaken by an international peer review consultant Dr. Louise Twinning-Ward, in collaboration with the Seychelles Tourism Board and the government of Seychelles’ UNDP-GEF Program Coordination Unit.
Pilot testing of the program was carried out with the participation of 11 hotels on Mahé, eight on Praslin and two on La Digue, all ranging from small to large tourism establishments.
It is anticipated that the label will afterwards be used for the entire tourism industry to encourage them to adopt sustainable practices in their daily operations.
Speaking about the Sustainable Tourism Label, Alain St.Ange, has said that the production of the standards demonstrates the Seychelles government’s strong commitment in promoting sustainable tourism and to continue working with trade partners.
“The Seychelles Tourism Board and partners are convinced that this sustainability label will be instrumental in establishing a more sustainable tourism industry in Seychelles,” he said.
“As the process to establish the label continues, further consultation with the tourism trade and other tourism stakeholders will take place to ensure that there is a broad based stakeholder input into the final product,” added Mr. St.Ange.