Planet Happiness and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) have signed an MoU to spread international awareness of destination well-being in tourism destination planning, focusing on strengthening sustainability standards in tourism and impact reporting in tourism destinations.
The two organisations will work together to promote mutual understanding of each other’s work among their members and partners. They will also engage on a range of topics related to the adoption of sustainability standards, especially in destination planning and sustainability reporting.
In an age of overtourism, Planet Happiness aims to show that measuring host well-being in tourism destinations is as important as counting GDP, profits, income and visitor numbers. It also provides a more rounded, inclusive and assured pathway to destination sustainability.
The Happiness Index survey, which is promoted by Planet Happiness, is currently available in 21 languages. It includes indicators for satisfaction with life, such as access to nature and arts, community engagement, standard of living, life-long learning and health.
“Its use allows destinations to engage host communities more directly in tourism planning,” said Paul Rogers, co-founder and director of Planet Happiness, a project of the NPO Happiness Alliance.
The partnership agreement also seeks to promote GSTC criteria in Planet Happiness’ project sites around the world. The criteria protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources, while ensuring tourism meets its potential as a tool for conservation and poverty alleviation. The GSTC also acts as the international accreditation body for sustainable tourism certification.
GSTC’s CEO Randy Durband said that the long-term viability of tourism sites depended on the industry’s ability to improve the quality of life of host communities and engage local people more directly in tourism development issues.
Durband said that social issues are integral in the GSTC criteria, as are sustainable management elements that call for genuine public participation and consideration of community needs in tourism development and execution.
“We therefore welcome the addition to our membership of a Planet Happiness team that is putting great focus on many aspects of the community and the social side of sustainable tourism,” he said.