Frequently Asked Questions
Coalition and Guiding Principles
Q: How was the coalition formed?
A: Recognizing the need for greater impact and the strength in collaboration, the NGOs that comprise the Coalition were already discussing ways to join forces before COVID-19 hit. In part these discussions came about because several of the NGOs recently had changes in leadership and so were reaching out to their counterparts. This led to further discussions, which became even more urgent and relevant in the current context.
Q: Why haven't you worked together before?
A: Our organizations regularly communicate with each other and previously had collaborated bilaterally on specific projects. The difference now is we have all come together with a united voice and intend to capitalize on and combine our unique strengths to further a shared mission.
Q: Why is the coalition necessary? And why now?
A: Before the pandemic, we were seeing the impact of decades of unfettered tourism growth and irresponsible practices on destinations that were struggling to cope and degrading as a result. Each of our organizations could see the requirement for a fundamental shift in how tourism works, to meet the needs of destination communities and their environments - the future of tourism relies on this. That’s no different now as tourism seeks to recover from lockdown, and in fact it presents an added urgency and an unprecedented opportunity to build back better. That’s a big task, and we felt it was incumbent upon us to join together and seek to unite tourism’s stakeholders behind a new vision for the future of tourism.
Q: What are the short-term and long-term goals of the coalition?
A: In the short-term, we want to amplify our message at this critical time and build a movement of stakeholders that stand behind our mission. COVID-19 has been catastrophic for tourism generally, and for tourism-dependent destinations in particular.
The focus now must be to ensure that communities are put at the heart of recovery plans and that we’re working towards a stable future for tourism.
Longer term, we are looking to better understand the restraints and barriers that may be preventing like-minded organizations (destinations, companies and other stakeholders) from adhering fully to our Guiding Principles, learn from the experiences of others to understand what has worked, and to work together to resolve these issues with practical action.
Q: What is the purpose of the Guiding Principles?
A: The Guiding Principles describe the characteristics of the only kind of tourism that has a future. Each of the 13 principles provides touch points for signatories to interrogate their own plans and help them on the path to this new future. Above all, they act as a shared vision which we call on everyone involved in tourism to get behind. Sign up and be counted, and together we can work to make this vision a reality.
Q: How were the Guiding Principles developed?
A: The Guiding Principles were developed collaboratively by the six NGOs, based on their considerable combined knowledge and expertise, and recognizing the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) standards, which are already established by and for the global community.
Q: Who can become a signatory?
A: We invite destinations (governments, national or regional tourism boards, and destination management/marketing organizations), tour operators, accommodation provides, online travel agencies, non-governmental organizations, donor and development communities, investors, multilateral organizations, trade associations, academia, media outlets, and public relations firms to align behind and commit to our Guiding Principles. A strong and sustainable future requires the collective effort of the travel industry as a whole.
At this time, signatories must represent the above listed entities. Individuals will not be allowed to commit as a signatory at this time.
While the Coalition encourages widespread participation and invites all stakeholders to join, we reserve the right to decline or exclude signatories that exhibit blatant disregard for the Guiding Principles, undermine the Coalition's mission, and/or show no intention to rectify destructive practices.
Q: What is asked of a signatory?
A: A signatory is asked not only to commit to the Guiding Principles, but to use them for guidance as we move forward from the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The Coalition will support the industry by providing the tools, guidance and collaboration to ensure a stronger path forward and encourage a diverse and inclusive set of signatories to sign on and share their own perspectives and experiences to collectively work toward a more just, equitable, and sustainable future for all. Signatories will complete a form to gather insights into their sustainability journey so that the Coalition can provide appropriate resources and tools to aid in their long-term strategy. We ask signatories to rethink how tourism works, who it works for, and how success is defined - and be an active voice in conversations as we move forward.
Q: How will the information collected on the form be used?
A: The information gathered will help the Coalition to better understand signatory needs so that we can provide more targeted, in-depth and personalized resources to support signatories in advancing their long-term sustainability strategy. Information will not be made public or shared externally without written and informed consent.
Q: Will the Coalition provide any additional guidance or resources to support signatories in making their commitment actionable?
A: The Coalition will be providing more information on the services and resources available to signatories in the coming weeks once we've assessed the needs and how we can best support.
Q: If anyone can join, isn’t this just greenwashing?
A: The Future of Tourism Coalition’s Guiding Principles are not just another pledge. We are asking the industry to actively abide by a set of guidelines for a better future. However, we also recognize that sustainability is a journey and that each signatory is at a different place in this process. Our Coalition is one built on action, guidance, and improvement.
We are focused on the future and on transformation, and are asking signatories to stand true to our mission and take steps forward - no matter where they currently stand.
Signatories will be supported in their challenges, celebrated in their successes and will be given the tools to better grow their destination stewardship strategies. The Future of Tourism Coalition does not ask for validation of its Guiding Principles, but instead for action around them.
Q: What happens if a signatory does not comply with the Guiding Principles?
A: While the Coalition recognizes that building a sustainable future for tourism will be a process and welcomes signatories who are on different stages of their journey, we reserve the right to decline or exclude signatories that exhibit blatant disregard for the Guiding Principles, undermine the Coalition’s mission, and/or show no intention to rectify destructive practices.
Q: How can I share my commitment?
A: We encourage signatories to share their commitment via their communication channels. A toolkit for suggested social media, logos and other communications can be found here - but we encourage all to share in their own brand voice and style!
Q: Is there a cost to become a signatory or engaging with the Coalition?
A: There is no fee to be a signatory to the Guiding Principles or to engage with the Coalition through the ways outlined in this FAQ. The direction of the Future of Tourism Coalition, and resulting activities, will be determined by understanding the needs through our engagement with signatories. There may be costs for future activities (i.e. trainings, knowledge products, events, etc.) for which funding would be required to support the NGO-Coalition's time and needed resources. Those activities, and thus the appropriate financial resources, are to be determined.
Q: Can I engage without committing to the Guiding Principles?
Yes! Many businesses recognize the need and opportunity ahead to shift immediately and are using the Future of Tourism’s Guiding Principles to clarify their strategy and objectives.
Others businesses are just starting to learn and can use the Guiding Principles as a place to start, or as discussion starters for planning 2021.
As travelers and business colleagues, we can choose to support signatories who apply the principles to their travel products and services.
As the Future of Tourism Coalition continues our launch, we will offer more opportunities to be involved. Please leave a contact email here so we can stay connected.
Q: How do I reach out with questions?
A: Please contact us here.