Planet Happiness and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) have signed a partnership agreement focused on strengthening sustainability standards in tourism and impact reporting in tourism destinations.
They will work together to promote mutual understanding of each other’s work among their members and partners. They will also engage in a range of topics related to the adoption of sustainability standards, especially in destination planning and sustainability reporting.
In an age where over-tourism is of growing concern, Planet Happiness aims to show that measuring host well-being in tourism destinations is as important as counting Gross Domestic Product, profits, income and visitor numbers. It also provides a more rounded, inclusive and assured pathway to destination sustainability.
The Happiness Index survey, promoted by Planet Happiness is currently available in 21 languages. It includes indicators for satisfaction with life, access to nature and arts, community engagement, standard of living, life-long learning and health.
The GSTC establishes and manages global sustainable standards, known as the GSTC Criteria: Destination Criteria for public policy-makers and destination managers, and Industry Criteria for hotels and tour operators. These are the guiding principles and minimum requirements that any tourism business or destination should aspire to reach. The criteria protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources while ensuring tourism meets its potential as a tool for conservation and poverty alleviation. The GSTC also acts as the international accreditation body for sustainable tourism certification.
The two organizations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) earlier this month. It provides a framework for Planet Happiness to promote GSTC criteria in its project sites around the world. The MOU also determines how measuring host happiness and well-being can contribute to destination sustainability.
“With the MOU, Planet Happiness will promote its happiness and well-being agenda among GSTC members,” said Dr Paul Rogers, the Co-Founder and Director of Planet Happiness, a project of theHappiness Alliance, a non-profit organization with eight years’ experience in happiness and well-being measurements.
“The Happiness Index survey is perhaps the best, most progressive, adaptable and easy to use happiness survey on the planet. Its use allows destinations to engage host communities more directly in tourism planning,” said Rogers.
On signing the MOU, Randy Durband, CEO of GSTC, said that the long-term viability of tourism sites depended on the industry’s ability to improve the quality of life of host communities and engage local people more directly in tourism development issues.
The Planet Happiness and GSTC partnership aims to ensure tourism is developed to strengthen destination well-being. It is expected to deliver win-wins for host communities, governments, businesses, and tourists, especially discerning visitors seeking a greater level of connection with their hosts.
Rogers said that the signing of the MOU with GSTC will spread international awareness of the innovative approach of including destination well-being in tourism destination planning.
“Planet Happiness looks forward to embracing more partners and to providing governments, universities and travel industry players around the world with the model and survey tools to measure, track and strengthen destination wellbeing,” said Rogers.
Durband said that social issues are integral in the GSTC criteria, as are sustainable management elements that call for genuine public participation and consideration of community needs in tourism development and execution.
“We, therefore, welcome the addition to our membership of a Planet Happiness team that is putting great focus on many aspects of the community and the social side of sustainable tourism,” said the GSTC CEO.