The European Travel Commission (ETC) has published a framework and toolkit for destinations to help them work towards sustainable tourism.

The group, which represents 32 national tourism organisations in Europe, has published a handbook called ‘Sustainable Tourism Implementation: Framework and Toolkit’.

It presents a seven-step framework with practical guidance on how to advance sustainable tourism development in European destinations, “regardless of how far they have progressed on their path to sustainability”.

The handbook outlines the potential burdens of tourism development on communities, ecosystems and climate and the benefits of adopting sustainable tourism practices at a national level.

“Not only can destinations improve environmental quality and conserve natural and culture assets, but they can also increase the benefits of tourism for residents – all while enhancing competitiveness by delivering an innovative product that is highly in travellers’ demand,” the ETC said when announcing the handbook.

Each of the seven steps is broken down into activities that act as a practical “how to” instruction towards more sustainable tourism and includes best practices, top tips, useful links, checklists, templates and facts.

Luís Araújo, president of the ETC, said: “The traditional model of tourism – the way the sector has developed in Europe over the past 50 years – is at a tipping point.

“When it comes to tourism management, it is imperative to integrate sustainability into national strategies and ensure that this goes beyond tokenism, to make a real and tangible difference at all levels.

“European destinations are committed to developing more sustainable forms of tourism, and they understand the potential for sustainability schemes to enhance Europe’s reputation, attractiveness, and visitor experiences”.

The tool was produced by a consortium of organisations – GoodPlace Slovenia, GreenCase Consulting and the Travel Foundation – with guidance from ETC and its members.

The toolkit responds to findings from ETC’s previous report on European Sustainability Schemes, which identified a knowledge gap and a need to provide more practical guidance in this area.

Download it here.