Top 5: Standards for eco-conscious travellers

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It’s holiday time in many parts of the world, and for a lot of people that means getting away. More than 1.4 billion tourists went somewhere last year, and that number is due to grow by 3-4 % by the end of 20191), making tourism one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world. That’s great for the tourism industry, but it also puts pressure on our planet’s resources. Well managed tourism, however, can help preserve the natural and cultural highlights of any destination, and make a positive impact on the community. Below are just a few of the many ISO standards that can help.

1. Sustainable accommodation 

Relaxing scene with a hammock on the balcony of a treehouse offering a beautiful view over a tropical valley.One of the first considerations when planning a holiday is where to stay. But wherever you decide to lay your head these holidays, make sure it is doing something positive for the planet and its people.

ISO 21401, Tourism and related services  Sustainability management system for accommodation establishments  Requirements, helps accommodation providers do just that by reducing their impact on the environment, promoting social exchange and making positive contributions to their local economies.

2. Festival Fever!

Summer means music festivals, sporting events, open-air theatre and many other outdoor events that are good for both body and soul.

Back view of two women, on the shoulders of two men, holding hands and having fun on a music concert.Thanks to ISO 20121, Event sustainability management systems – Requirements with guidance for use, which was used for the London 2012 Olympics, organizers of any kind of event can manage their operations in a sustainable manner. This includes such things as effective use of resources, upholding workers’ rights, and assessing impact the event has on the local community. A win-win situation for all.

3. Diving into clear waters

Female scuba diver and a green turtle, underwater.Planning on plunging deep into the sea this summer? ISO has a number of International Standards for recreational diving, including those for training programmes. The upcoming standard ISO 21416, Recreational diving services – Requirements and guidance on environmentally sustainable practices in recreational diving, for example, will help dive centres and services be kind to the aquatic environment. It features international best practice such as deterring divers from feeding or removing aquatic life, or how to operate boats in an environmentally-friendly manner.

It will be joined by ISO 21417Recreational diving services — Requirements for training on environmental awareness for recreational divers, which aims to educate divers on the environmental impact of their sport so that they are in a better position to reduce the risks of harming our waters.

4. Off the beaten track

Woman walking near the lake in Tatra mountains.Looking to get back to nature? ISO 18065, Tourism and related services Tourist services for public use provided by Natural Protected Areas Authorities Requirements, helps the authorities of such nature hot spots as protected forests or conservation areas meet the needs of visitors while giving priority to their conservation objectives. Tourists can thus experience the natural environment while respecting it at the same time and learn more about the importance of conservation.

5. Sustainable adventures

Back view of a woman kayaking along a beautiful tropical jungle river.Looking for a few thrills and spills when you travel? Adventure tourism is booming as tourists seek more challenging experiences. ISO 20611Adventure tourism — Sustainability good practices — Requirements and recommendations, gives adventure tourism providers the guidance they need to minimize, or mitigate, the negative environmental, economic or social impacts of tourism and enhance the positive ones.


Looking for more travel titbits? You’re in luck! If you are prone to catching the travel bug, and your feet itch to discover new places, follow Cath’s journey on social media as she travels around the world looking for tourism standards from 10 July to 9 August.

For those who care about our impact on the planet, who want to experience new thrills with no compromise on safety, and think that travel should be accessible to all, you’ll find the hottest standards and stories from our members around the world. 

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1) UNWTO Tourism Highlights: 2018 Edition

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