The seal of approval was given by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).
The natural beauty of the Azores without a doubt takes everyone’s breath away. And not only that; they stand out as the first region in Portugal and the only island group in the world to be certified as a sustainable tourist destination. This is a distinction attributed to only 13 regions on the entire planet. The prize in the "silver" category was awarded at the beginning of December 2019 by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).
"It is with deep pride that today we can say that the Azores are certified as a sustainable tourism destination. We are the first and only archipelago in the world with this certification, as well as the only region in the country with the title. We really are at the forefront," said the regional secretary for Energy, Environment and Tourism of the Azores, Marta Guerreiro, quoted by the Portuguese news agency, Lusa. She was speaking at the opening session of the GSTC annual congress, which brings together about three hundred participants of 42 nationalities in Angra do Heroísmo the capital of the Azorean island, Tecreira.
"At the end of this process, I would like to emphasise; all of this is thanks to two years of hard work, which allows us today to be part of a group of 13 regions of the world and only eight countries with this certification," she further underlined.
Certification valid for one year
The certification is valid for one year, but the idea is to keep it up beyond then. "This is the first degree of the certification that can be achieved - the “silver” - but with the short term of the certification and the evolution of the indicators that are analysed, we want to aspire to greater things. It's not a given, it will require continuous work", said Marta Guerreiro.
The audit was carried out by the certification and advisory group for travel and tourism, EarthCheck, which visited three islands of the archipelago, one of each group: São Miguel (eastern group), Terceira (central group) and Flores (western). A set of parameters were evaluated, such as energy conservation, water, greenhouse gas emissions, air quality, noise and light pollution, ecosystem management, transport and cultural and social management.
Marta Guerreiro underlined the importance of the distinction, which will allow the islands to "not only internally awaken the sector's agents to the importance of positioning their businesses and their areas within these sustainable practices", but also for the Azores to capture a mindset that "values sustainability concerns".
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