Sustainable Tourism Training for Tomorrow – How can we upskill to ensure a sustainable tourism offer that is good for people, good for business and good for nature in the Covid world?

This conference presented the conclusions of the Erasmus + project “Sustainable Tourism Training for Tomorrow”. It brought together policy makers and those working in the field and looked at how we can shape the future of sustainable tourism and what skills are needed to do so.

Sustainable Tourism is at a crossroads. With the focus on safe and nature-based tourism in demand following the covid pandemic, the sector is challenged to communicate its offers, address new markets and deliver a value-based offer.

As such, those working to deliver sustainable tourism need to stay up to date with new ideas and skills that will enable them to be fit for multiple purposes. To help them do so, the Erasmus + project “Sustainable Tourism: Training for Tomorrow” (STTfT), has been working for 3 years to build an introductory learning platform. Based on EUROPARC’s Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas, it is full of best practice case studies, knowledge resources, videos and quizzes, as well as a trainer’s toolkit that will stimulate all to build their sustainable tourism understanding and practice.

Below, you can find all presentations:

Carol Ritchie, EUROPARC’s Executive Director opened the session by setting the scene for the day and explained to the audience where in the world we currently are regarding Sustainable Tourism and where we can go post-covid: “We need to change the drivers of tourism, and have more positive models put forward”. For this, tourism providers will need to learn and upskill to become the sustainable tourism providers of tomorrow.

Dr. Anna Spenceley, CEO STAND Ltd; chair IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialists Group and Director of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council then brought the global perspective of sustainable tourism. She explained that research shows that we are now indeed at a pivotal moment for tourism, and that travelers do want to take more sustainable tourism trips in the future. However, a majority of the tourism business does not know what sustainability is – or how to start. Dr. Spenceley introduced a number of useful tools and resources to help them find their way in the sustainable tourism world. Additionally, she highlighted how online learning is a cost effective and accessible way of learning about sustainable tourism. Many more useful links can be found in the presentation:

Get the presentation here.

Prof. Dr. Elke Hermans, Hasselt University then endeavored to answer the question on what the training needs are in the sustainable tourism context. This was actually the first step of the STTfT programme and resulted in the production of a Training Needs Analysis, at the basis of which lays extensive literature research and a Europe-wide survey. The report can be found here.

Get the presentation here.

István Ujhelyi, MEP, Committee of Transport and Tourism introduced the new united approach to have a stronger European policy on sustainable tourism. He also touched upon the EU Covid Travel Certificate and his hope for common agreements regarding traveling during covid times within the EU. Additionally, he highlighted the importance of including Sustainable Tourism in the EU Green Deal.

Manuel Alejandro Cardenete Flores, Rapporteur CoR Opinion and deputy minister for Tourism Regeneration, Justice and local Administration of the Regional Government of Andalusia followed up that the covid crisis gives us the opportunity to restart tourism in a different way. We do not want to return to overtourism and we now have the chance to create a more sustainable form of tourism. He believes that the EU has the responsibility to lead this, in coordination with institutions at all levels: Cooperation is key! To help with this movement, Manuel suggests creating one DG for tourism, instead of it being incorporated in a range of different DGs. In Andalusia they have already started with a more coherent approach to sustainable tourism across different sectors.

After a short break, we continued with the presentation of Ramune Genzbigelyte Venturi, Policy Officer at the Tourism Team in DG Grow. She presented the position of the European Commission and the concrete actions the Commission has planned for the coming months and years to restart tourism in a more sustainable way. The EC has put a lot of effort into relaunching this year’s tourist season, for example through the “Covid-19 Safety Seal”, a label and protocol on how to open safely for tourism businesses and through the website “Re-open EU”. In the long term, the goal is to build a more resilient tourism business inline with other EU strategies.

Get the presentation here.

Sofia Pachini, Policy Officer at the Nature Unit in DG Environment presented what DG Environment is doing to support sustainable tourism initiatives in Natura 2000 and other Protected Areas in the EU and how they are working to promote them. Additionally, she underlined just how important Protected Areas are from a socioeconomic perspective, especially now, with interest in nature and outdoors growing. Ms. Pachini also introduced the new initiative that allows Members States to use the Natura 2000 logo for goods and services that contribute to the Natura 2000 objectives.

Get the presentation here.

We then returned to Elke Hermans, who gave the audience a virtual tour of the STTfT learning platform, the creation of which was truly at the core of the project. The platform is a tool for Protected Area staff, tourism businesses and other stakeholders to create more sustainable tourism. It is available in French, English, Italian and Spanish. There are 9 learning topics, based on the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism key topics. Each of the topics provides key information, video material, case studies and follow-up resources. For these learning topics you can then do a quiz to test your knowledge. Additionally, the platform provides a wealth of information for trainers that want to organise workshops in the “Training Toolkit”. Have a look at the recording above to get the full tour.

Amanda Guzmán, director of the Ecotourism in Spain Association brought the vision of the business into the STTfT project. She highlighted that to truly achieve sustainable tourism, specific training and personalised advice for companies is essential. To her, the pandemic has underlined that ecotourism is the best way of working for everyone and it is a great business opportunity as we move out of the covid-19 pandemic.

Get the presentation here.

We then heard from two project partners: Olaf Holm of Montagne de Reims Regional Nature Park in France and Barbara Vernizzi of Parchi del Ducato Ente di Gestione per i Parchi e la Biodiversità Emilia Occidentale in Italy. They showed what is happening on the ground and explained how Sustainable Tourism is factored into the plans for their areas. Both underlined the importance of integrating tourism into different aspects of park management and working with different stakeholders. Additionally, they explained how the learning platform helped them develop sustainable tourism in their areas.

Get Olaf Holm’s presentation here.

Get Barbara Vernizzi’s presentation here

To conclude, Dr. Fernando Correia of Hull University Business School looked at where we will go from here. He noted that blended learning is truly the way forward, also after covid, as it is an accessible, cost effective and customisable way of learning, even when it of course does not fully replace human contact and interaction. Find his recommendations in the presentation below.

Get the presentation here.

Interesting Reading

Many of the presenters shared interesting links within their presentations which you can find above. Additionally, here you can find links that were shared by participants and presenters in the chat:

Official website of the STTfT project (includes the Training Needs Analysis Report & the learning platform)

Recommendations for the transition to a Green Travel and Tourism Economy

One Planet Vision for a Responsible Recovery of the Tourism Sector

Tourism in the post-COVID world: Three steps to build better forward

Tourism declares a climate emergency

The EUROPARC Youth Manifesto

Developments of a collaborative platform to engage with rural communities in Africa

Diversification of communities amid the covid restrictions regarding travel

Crisis readiness: Are you prepared and resilient to safeguard your people & destinations? – World Travel and Tourism Council & Global Rescue

Adventure Travel COVID-19 Risk Assessment and Planning tool – ATTA

An ethics framework for COVID-19 reopening process – Johns Hopkins

Legal Duty of care – Global + Rescue

US must face some claims over Yosemite Hantavirus outbreak – Courthouse News Service

OARS COVID-19 general mitigation plan

EUROPARC Webinar on accessibility in Protected Areas

The MEET Manual

DestiMED Plus project that is developing an online platform for self-training about ecotourism within Protected Areas

Ecotourism Footprint Calculator

New online guide on EU funding on tourism

EUROPARC’s Sustainable Tourism Partner Awards

Parking and Transport measures in Snowdonia, Wales

Videos on the Ecotourism Club in Spain:

Charter Network Meeting in Sabugal Portugal this year


Audience input

During the event we gathered some input from the audience, which you can find here:

Question: what are the 3 things you most want to see change or happen, to encourage more sustainable tourism as we come out of covid-restrictions?

Question: What is the main thing you have learned through the corona pandemic and what are you doing now differently than you did 18 months ago?

Find the answers here.

Poll 1: Field of work

  • 23% of attendees were from a Protected Area
  • 21% came from a public institution
  • 15% came from an NGO
  • 14% came from academia
  • 12% came from a tourism businesses
  • 11% were students
  • 4% came from tourism agency / operator

Poll 2: How likely are you to use the STTfT tool and resources in your sustainable tourism work?

  • 88% said they would be likely or highly likely to use the platform
  • 12% said that parts of the platform would be interesting to them