The Code of Practice for Sustainable Tourism toolkit is contained in an online system that can be adapted to the needs of different destinations.
Benefits of the Code of Practice System
The Code of Practice provides a number of benefits to destinations seeking to promote sustainable tourism standards amongst tourism operators:
- It applies to all type of tourism operator, irrespective of activity or scale
- It provides a common understanding across enterprises of the role they play in sustainable tourism practice in the Geopark
- It is written in plain English so that tourism operators easily understand what’s being asked of them
- It is directly relevant to the place where they work and where they host visitors
- It actively encourages all tourism enterprises in the region to get involved – it is designed to allow them start the journey towards sustainability (it does not require excellence in sustainable tourism management from the outset)
- It maps a path to progress to higher levels of sustainable tourism management
- It allows targetting of scarce training and facilitation supports
Features of the Code of Practice System
Sustainable Tourism Principles
The Code comprises 6 core principles. Each principle is broken down into a number of performance measures i.e. actions a business can take in order to implement this principle. While enterprises are not required to implement all performance measures from the outset, they are encouraged to work towards them all over time. All performance measures can be determined by the destination managers and tailored to the specific needs of their territory. They are framed within the elements of effective sustainable tourism practice defined by GSTC and ETIS. Click here to view the Code of Practice Table of Measures, Indicators and Evidence for the Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark.
Self Assessment Tool
To ensure ease of understanding and engagement, this table of measures is re-written in layman’s language as a series of actions that an enterprise can take in order to comply with the Code. A simple Self Assessment Checklist enables the enterprise to scan the list of actions, readily understand what is being asked of them and assess their current performance against the Code. Click here to view the Code of Practice Self Assessment Checklist for the Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark or select the online Self Assessment Tool on the left navigation bar.
Clear ‘To Do’ List
Once a Self Assessment has been completed, the system will generate a To Do List, tailored to the individual enterprise. The To Do List comprise all actions (measures) which the enterprise is not currently implementing. It will also point the enterprise towards resources that will enable it to implement these measures e.g. guidelines, templates, case studies, reference material. Click here for a sample To Do List for an enterprise in the Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark.
Collection of Consumption & Customer Data
The first step in adopting the Code is that the tourism enterprise measures and monitors the use of resources – waste, water, energy. The monthly data is keyed into the system along with the number of visitors they host month-by-month. This generates a resource usage benchmark for each enterprise which they can track over time. The system also aggregates the total resource usage or consumption for all businesses using the system. This can be used to monitor and track group/destination performance over time.
Providing Evidence of Performance
The second step is that each tourism enterprise must compile and document evidence of implementation of all measures. This is the process used by all certifying bodies and so introduces a discipline of filing and reporting that will stand the enterprise in good stead as they progress on their journey to sustainability. The system enables a tourism operator to upload and document evidence for each action (measure). Businesses are supported by video tutorials, downloadable guides and links to external resources. The system generates an indicative score and overall performance band rating.
Independent Review & Verification
The final submission is then desk-reviewed on the system by an independent evaluator who provides qualitative feedback to the enterprise and assesses whether the evidence provided is sufficient to support the score. On-site verification visits of a representative random sample of the tourism enterprises are recommended. The purpose of the visits is to verify that the evidence submitted and claims made in the Code of Practice submission are reflected in the delivery of the visitor experience. The objective is to establish the integrity and credibility of the system as a standard for sustainable tourism practice in the region.