The 5th European Ecotourism Conference was organized in Tbilisi, Georgia between September 10th-14th and Jeppe was one of the invited Keynote Speakers. Jeppe represented the Swedish Nature and Ecotourism Association, and shared the history, challenges, lessons learned and opportunities from quality-assuring Swedish ecotourism through Natures Best Sweden.
The presentation was much appreciated and well-visited, with lots of questions surrounding our experience on the topic. It is obvious that certifications of ecotourism and sustainable tourism is a hot topic around the world and endless to say also in Europe.
Jeppe referred to the latest research on the topic (Research for TRAN Committee – European Tourism Labelling by European Parliament Think Tank) in his presentation, where the report addresses the multitude of available certifications as an actual threat, and where the European Commission (EC) recommends to promote GSTC recognition of standards and accreditation of certification schemes.
As the Georgian Ecotourism Association is in the process of possibly developing a new national certification on ecotourism, Jeppe was asked the question what his recommendations would be,
“Don’t reinvent the wheel and go against what the latest research has shown. Don’t start from scratch. Make use of the experiences learned from organizations like ours. Let us work together to instead further develop existing systems and “translate” it into your requirements and needs, and of course, to develop it in line with at least the minimum standards set by the GSTC. We need better certifications, not more!”