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Certifying Sustainable Tourism in Small Islands

Certifying Sustainable Tourism in Small Islands

25 March 2019

NEW YORK – The tourism industry is progressively adopting business practices which attempt to balance environmental, social and economic impacts.  In small island developing States, initiatives are being rolled out which brings governments, civil society and the private sector together to forge innovative solutions which marry profitability with social and environmental wellbeing.

In the case of Seychelles, the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label (SSTL) is a sustainable tourism management and certification programme designed specifically for the tourism sector in the country. Applicable to all hotel sizes, the programme is voluntary and designed to inspire more efficient and sustainable ways of doing business. So far eighteen hotels across the country have been certified.  The programme’s sustainability criteria include: management policy, waste reduction, water-related practices, reducing energy use and improving efficiency, recognising fair treatment of staff, reducing negative impact on the environment, community engagement and guest satisfaction.

Two examples of hotels which had their SSTL certificates renewed in January 2019 are Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort and Spa and Double Tree by Hilton Allamanda Resort both located on Mahe.  The hotels were reassessed after two years (previously certified in 2016) and according to SSTL, upon recertification, both hotels scored over 10% more points than they scored 2 years ago. Since 2016, both hotels intensified their efforts to reduce their carbon footprints which included installing solar lights across the whole property, motion sensor lighting, reconditioning of the Sewage Treatment Plant for more efficiency among others.  Both properties also supported conservation efforts through the establishment of coral nurseries in partnership with the Marine Conservation Society of Seychelles to help in coral reef restoration.

Hilton Northolme, Mahe, Seychlles,

The label’s success has meant that efforts are underway to amend and expanded it to other tourism related businesses such as restaurants, the boating sector and tour operators. Principle-based voluntary initiatives are critical to further mainstream corporate sustainability and responsible investment.  SSTL, while tailor-made for the Seychelles, can be a model for other small island developing States which are looking to integrate sustainability practices into their tourism sectors.

Tourism is a major economic powerhouse generating US$7.6 trillion (10.2% of global GDP) and 292 million jobs in 2016 globally. This is equivalent to 1 in 10 jobs in the global economy. According to the latest UNWTO Annual Report, the industry is growing. In 2017, more than 1.3 billion people travelled as tourists internationally, 84 million (7%) more than 2016. For eight consecutive years there has been an average growth of 4% per year. As one of the largest economic sectors globally, tourism can play a vital role in sustainable development including the Sustainable Development Goals, through job and wealth creation, environmental protection, cultural preservation and poverty alleviation.

To learn more about the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label, visit:  http://www.sstl.sc/ 

Featured Photo: Hilton Northolme, Mahe, Seychlles, www.seychelles.org  
(CC BY 2.0)
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