Six leading sustainable tourism organisations have joined forces to form a Future of Tourism Coalition with the aim of placing destinations at the centre of post-coronavirus recovery.

The Future of Tourism Coalition comprises six non-governmental groups (NGOs) – the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), Destination Stewardship Center, Green Destinations, Sustainable Travel International, Tourism Cares and the Travel Foundation – and will act under the guidance of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).

In a founding statement, the sustainable tourism NGOs said: “Decades of unfettered growth in travel have put the world’s treasured places at risk – environmentally, culturally, socially, and financially.

“The travel and tourism industries face a precarious and uncertain future due to the Covid-19 global pandemic, with international tourist numbers projected to fall 60%-80% in 2020.

“Re-centring around a strong set of principles is vital for long-term sustainable and equitable growth.

The coalition has agreed 13 ‘guiding principles’ which it says “provide a clear moral and business imperative for building a healthier tourism industry while protecting the places and people on which it depends”.

It is calling on tourism agencies, travel companies, governments, investors, NGOs and destination communities to commit to these.

The principles call on signatories to: use sustainability standards, choose quality over quantity, demand fair income distribution, reduce the burden of tourism, redefine economic success, mitigate climate impacts, contain tourism’s land use, diversify source markets, protect the sense of place and operate responsibly.

In a joint statement, the chief executives of the six coalition groups said: “It is imperative every organisation evaluates how they will actively place the needs of destinations and equity within their communities at the centre of tourism development, management, and promotion decisions.

“There is no stable future for tourism if this is not done now – together, responsibly and vigorously.”

They said: “This is not a short-term effort, this is the future.

“Long-term resilient social, economic, and environmental recovery and regeneration will require all sectors of industry to rethink how tourism works, who it works for, and how success is defined.”

Slovenian Tourist Board director Maja Pak said: “The recent crisis in tourism has shown us just how much tourism relies and depends on local and global communities.

“Sharing our experiences and gaining best practice examples from other countries will be the key to successfully navigate the post-corona tourism universe. The role of the Future of Tourism Coalition will be vital.”

Twenty-two industry stakeholders have signed up as founding signatories.

These include: the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), Ecotourism Australia, G Adventures, Global Ecotourism Network, the Government of the Azores, Government of Colombia, Hilton, Innovation Norway, Intrepid Travel, Jordan Tourism Board, Lindblad Expeditions, MT Sobek, Palau Bureau of Tourism, Riverwind Foundation (Jackson Hole, WY), Seychelles Ministry of Tourism, Slovenian Tourist Board, Swisscontact, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, The Travel Corporation, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, Tourism Council Bhutan and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).