Tourism leaders in County Clare are aiming to make the county Ireland's first Certified Sustainable Tourism Destination.
The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Destination Certification is awarded to destinations that demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to sustainability. The GSTC is a non-profit organization that aims to manage standards for sustainable travel and tourism, developing internationally recognized criteria around sustainable management.
The organization additionally aims to develop criteria around environmental impacts, including the consumption of resources, the reduction of pollution, and the conservation of biodiversity and landscapes.
Clare's pursuit of the GSTC Destination Certificate represents the county's aim to provide a structured framework for measuring progress in sustainability in addition to identifying potential risks and creating greater collaboration between tourism agencies in Clare.
Clare will join several other global tourist destinations that have received the designation, including the Azores in Portugal, Tarvisio in Italy, Colorado in the USA, and Rottnest Island in Australia.
The Tourism Department of Clare County Council and the Clare Tourism Advisory Forum have now established a County Clare GSTC Destination Green Team to oversee the process of securing the Destination Certification.
The team will be tasked with devising a sustainable tourism policy and establishing a systematic approach to address the challenges faced by Clare as a tourist destination.
Cllr. Joe Cooney, chairperson of Clare County Council, said Clare has a long track record of adopting a sustainable approach to tourism.
"Developing a countywide sustainable tourism policy and securing international certification will consolidate this work and ensure sustainability remains at the core of everything the local sector does into the future," Cooney said in a statement.
Leonard Cleary, Director of Tourism Development with Clare County Council, said achieving a GSTC Destination Certification would elevate Clare to the status of "best in class" when it comes to sustainable tourism in Ireland.
Cleary added that the certificate will demonstrate the Clare tourism operators "take sustainability seriously."
Clare’s bid to become a globally recognized and certified sustainable tourism destination began in 2022 when surveys of residents and visitors to the County were carried out to measure and monitor tourism impacts on the local economy, communities, heritage, and environment.