ISO Publishes New Standard for Ecotourism

Are you sitting at your desk, or on your way home dreaming about an ice-cold piña colada on a tropical beach?

You’re not the only one.

Flying has never been cheaper, and because of that accessibility, those numbers are putting a strain on the hotels, restaurants, entrepreneurs and their respective supply chains. In the hope of inspiring some eco-friendly innovation to lessen the impact on those tropical landscapes, ISO is here with a new standard: ISO 21401 Tourism and Related Services - Sustainability management system for accommodation establishments.

ISO reasons that due to the fact that “tourist accommodation is one of the biggest players,” the standard will kick-start a domino effect due to the fact “its potential impact on sustainable development is huge.”

According to ISO, “Tourism is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economic sectors,” and “with billions of people travelling each year - and numbers are expected to grow by 3.3% annually until 2030.”

The new ISO 21401 standard is aiming to assist accommodation facilities and minimise their detrimental impact on the environment in which they operate. The standard has been developed in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals which was set back in 2015, designed to “address some of the most pressing issues faced by the world”, according to the UN.

ISO 21401, according to ISO’s website “specifies the environmental, social and economic requirements for implementing a sustainability management system in tourist accommodation.”

Atop the list of issues to address are the human rights, health considerations and safety of employees and guests, environmental protections, water and energy consumption, levels of waste, as well as considerations for the development of the local economy in which a hotel is operating; particularly useful for western-owned operations.

Alexandre Garrido, convenor of the working group that developed the standard said: “The fact that there are many schemes for sustainable accommodation from different countries and organizations can make it difficult for such facilities to know what is useful and reliable and how to meet their requirements.”

Garrido continued to explain that “This internationally agreed standard provides clarity in a confusing market, applies to all types of accommodation and can serve as a tool to improve sustainable management. It will also help to stimulate the market for more sustainability in both the accommodation sector and the tourism industry as a whole.”

“ISO 21401 will benefit accommodation facilities by strengthening their management and improving their reputation, while providing better-quality services to clients and improving relationships with suppliers, employees and the local community.” Garrido concluded.

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