The Heritage Environmental Management Company (Heritage) has become one of only two environmental certification standards worldwide to be affiliated to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), it was announced today.
Heritage’s membership of the UNWTO was approved during the 90th session of the UNWTO’s Executive Council held in Mombasa, Kenya in June this year. Heritage has become the first UNWTO private sector affiliate in South Africa.
The only other tourism certification standard to be formally recognized by the UNWTO is Heritage’s strategic partner, the US-based Green Globe Certification company.
The UNWTO is a specialized agency of the United Nations and the leading international organisation in the field of tourism. It serves as a global forum for tourism policy issues and a practical source of tourism know-how. It also plays a pivotal role in promoting the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, paying particular attention to the interests of developing countries.
The organisation encourages the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, with a view to ensuring that member countries, tourist destinations and businesses maximise the positive economic, social and cultural effects of tourism and fully reap its benefits, while minimizing its negative social and environmental impacts.
Its membership includes 154 countries, 7 territories and over 400 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.
Acceptance by the UNWTO proves that the South African developed standard is of international relevance and a leader in the field of environmental certification in tourism.
“With the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17) just around the corner, it is extremely gratifying to be recognized by an organisation of this standing and this proves that South Africa is at the forefront of environmental certification development and standards,” says Greg McManus, md of the Heritage Environmental Certification Company.
“In this light, Heritage is taking a leading role in ensuring that visitors to the conference experience an environmentally responsible stay while in Durban. Efforts to encourage as many hotels and accommodation establishments in the city to commit to responsible business practice are well underway,” McManus says.
COP17 takes place from 28 November to 9 December at the ICC in Durban and will see the world’s attention focussed on South Africa and its sustainable practices. The event is expected to draw almost 15 000 delegates to Durban with a spending potential of more than R300-million.
The Heritage Environmental Management Company was formed in 2002 as southern Africa’s first environmental performance rating initiative. It has since become the largest and most successful environmental management system and certification programme of its kind in Africa. In May 2009, Heritage was appointed the Green Globe preferred partner for sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands.
The Heritage Programme is currently being operated by over 150 tourism-based businesses across southern Africa. The programme is recognized by the UNWTO and has partnered with FEDHASA in the Imvelo Awards held annually to recognize responsible tourism practice.
Green Globe Certification is the worldwide sustainability system based on internationally accepted criteria for sustainable operation and management of travel and tourism businesses. Operating under a worldwide license, Green Globe Certification is based in California, USA and is represented in over 83 countries. Green Globe is an affiliate member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), is partly owned by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and a member of the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST) governing council. For information visit www.greenglobe.com.