The Azores Are The First Archipelago In The World With The Sustainable Tourism Stamp ♦ It’s official: the Azores already have the international certification of a sustainable tourist destination. The announcement of obtaining the Earthcheck silver certificate was made at the opening of the annual conference of the Global Council on Sustainable Tourism (GSTC), a body that integrates several United Nations agencies and is responsible for this certification process – which began last Thursday. Angra do Heroísmo, on Terceira Island. Secrets From Portugal is thrilled to let you know all about this news about the Azores, renowned for its unique archipelago of islands characterised by dramatic landscapes, stunning coastlines and charming village.
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The Portuguese islands of Azores are the only islands of the globe to earn Earthcheck silver certification, accredited by the United Nations Global Council on Sustainable Tourism. And in 2019 the Azores will break the record of 3 million nights.
The Azores received last Thursday the certificate of sustainable tourism destination, delivered by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), being the first region of the country and the only archipelago in the world to achieve it.
The certificate was presented at the start of the GSCT annual congress, which this year brings 250 participants from 42 countries to Terceira Island. Happiness for the distinction was visible in the face of the Azores Government’s Regional Secretary for Energy and Environment Tourism, Marta Guerreiro, who received the certificate from Luigi Cabrini, chairman of the GSTC Board, formed in 2007 through a Coalition between 32 partners, including the Rainforest Alliance, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the United Nations Foundation and the World Tourism Organization (WTO). Ultimately, GSTC seeks to set global standards for sustainable tourism.
The Azores began the certification process in 2017, by creating a “coordinating entity for the sustainability of the tourist destination” to achieve the feat. “It was two years of hard work, in record time, also because we already had a lot of homework done,” Marta Guerreiro told reporters.
The seal is from GSTC, but the audit work was done by Eartcheck, the certification body, which visited three islands in the archipelago, one from each group: São Miguel (eastern group), Terceira (central group) and Flores (western). They assessed a set of parameters such as energy, water conservation, greenhouse gas emissions, air quality, noise and light pollution, ecosystem management, transport and cultural and social management.
The certificate that the Azores receive is Silver, which means that there is still a “gold” level to be achieved. Guerreiro says that the region “has the conditions to pursue more”, which is how it says, will seek to achieve the highest degree of certification. “This is the first (degree) that can be achieved when certifying, but with the permanence in certification, we are able to want more, it is not taken for granted, it requires work.”