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Financial Institutions Interested in Mainstreaming Sustainability in Tourism Sector

By Catalina Etcheverry

The recent meeting of the Marrakech Process Task Force on Sustainable Tourism Development (ITF-STD) focused on sustainable investment and financing in the tourism sector and attracted the interest of financial institutes aiming at mainstreaming sustainability principles into tourism investments and projects.

The meeting recommended the establishment of a network comprising financial stakeholders, private investors, international organizations and developing destinations that will focus on the mainstreaming of sustainable principles on investments and development projects in the tourism sector. The network will be called SIFT Network (Sustainable Investment and Financing in Tourism). Beside the Task Force members, the World Bank, the GEF, the IFC, the UN Foundation, the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation, commercial banks and Private Equity corporations have agreed to participate in the network in order to build ties with destinations in developing countries and develop guidelines for sustainable investments in the tourism sector.

The network will:
• Create a network on Sustainable Investment and Financing in Tourism with the participation of multi-lateral and bi-lateral donors, financing institutions, the private sector (banks, tourism companies, and investors), developing countries and international organizations.
• Provide guidance to financing institutes, private investors and public authorities at national and local levels in constructing the appropriate policy frameworks to complement and stimulate the channeling of financial resources necessary for sustainable tourism development.

The meeting proved that the Task Force has started to deliver concrete outputs towards the development of sustainable consumption and production patterns in the tourism value chain.

These outputs are related with the projects financed by the French Ministry (communication campaign, guidelines for tourism in coastal zones, training material for hospitality schools) but have also contributed to projects that started within the Task Force’s program of work and implemented by various partners, such as:
• an international initiative on the establishment of baseline criteria for sustainable tourism
• compilation of good practices
• destination management projects jointly implemented by tour operators and NGOs

The meeting also stressed that the activities towards adaptation and mitigation measures to combat climate change in the tourism sector should be strengthened.

Finally, the development of policy and business guidelines was recognized as one of the most visible and valuable activities of the Task Force. In this respect, the following activities should be further encouraged:
• The compilation of a global baseline of sustainable tourism criteria;
• Work on the integration of sustainable tourism in governance and local development approaches;
• The compilation of good practices and the need to focus on the development of specific recommendations. In this respect the following recommendation was provided:
• The development of collaborative pilot projects engaging task force members, which directly support the implementation of sustainable tourism development on the ground.

Mr. Carlos Benavides, Minister for Tourism in Costa Rica, announced that the next ITF-STD Meeting on Sustainable Development will be held in Costa Rica. This Fourth meeting will take place in June 2008.

The Third International Task Force Meeting on Sustainable Tourism Development (ITF-STD) was held on 10-12 December, 2007, in Paris, France. The meeting was organized by the French Ministry for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Spatial Planning; the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the French Ministry of Tourism and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) with the support of the Norwegian Government. Approximately 86 participants attended the meeting, including 12 country members, 9 international organizations, 9 federal associations together with NGOs, and 18 participating experts.

Task Force on Sustainable Tourism