REPORT AND REFLECTION from the GSTC World Congress in Stockholm

I have experienced my first Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)-conference with 500 participants from 50 countries. What a blessing to spend time with people where sustainability really is the most obvious way forward. ❤️

These are key notes I take with me and want to share. It’s a mix of smart things others have said, my own conclusions and things that makes my brain burn.

SWEDEN AS A SUSTAINABLE DESTINATION

Sweden is fantastic and I was filled with pride when I saw Visit Sweden’s introductory video about our country as a destination. At the same time, we are far form so sustainable as we want to show. We have a lot of woodland (in Swedish trädåker) but very little wild forest. Northern Sweden is not connected to the modern railway network, and therefore has few alternatives to aviation. There is a lack of national leadership for the sustainable development of the hospitality industry. Thank you Neil Rogers for sharing how nature can rewild and thanks Liisa Kokkarinen and Ingunn Sornes for providing perspective on how sustainability work can be carried out nationally.

SETTINGS FOR DEVELOPMENT

Adopting a Natures first and People first approach is what is required for sustainable tourism to become possible. Guest first is long out of date.

We need to focus more on creating meaning and development than marketing, applies to national and regional destinations. Well said Annika fredriksson

THE LOCAL POPULATION

🔹What is good for the population is also good for the visitors. Impressive work done at the Azores Carolina Mendonça
🔹The local population’s quality of life is linked to their support for tourism
🔹80 percent of biological diversity is found where indigenous people live
🔹Not a single penny of what is invested in the green industry in northern Sweden will go to protect nature
🔹The biggest threat to indigenous peoples is not climate change but lack of knowledge. Traveling is a method to increase knowledge, understanding and empathy. Thanks Lennart Pittja for bringing this perspective.

ABOUT THE CONFERENCE

On the whole, a very nicely organized conference. The Royal Djurgarden does impressive sustainability work and the whole destination has a lot to offer! The content of the program has been very good! I missed organized dialogues and discussions between the participants where we take advantage of more perspectives in the room than just what was presented from the stage. Really good to be able to eat well-prepared vegetarian food exclusively and good Swedish fika. The fact that we were served seasonal fruit consisting of imported melons and grapes on the first evening shows that thinking about sustainability at all levels is very difficult. Even when it’s such a low-hanging fruit 😉 as offering locally produced food.

Thanks for all the chats and meetings. Now we go home and continue doing the work we know needs to be done.

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