The Heritage Environmental Management Company (Heritage) has become one of only two environmental certification standards worldwide to be affiliated to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Heritage’s membership of the UNWTO was approved during the 90th session of the UNWTO’s Executive Council held in Mombasa, Kenya, in June this year.
Heritage has become the first UNWTO private sector affiliate in South Africa.
The only other tourism certification standard to be formally recognized by the UNWTO is Heritage’s strategic partner, the US-based Green Globe Certification company.
The UNWTO is a specialised agency of the United Nations and the leading international organization in the field of tourism.
It serves as a global forum for tourism policy issues and a practical source of tourism know-how.
It also plays a pivotal role in promoting the development of responsible, sustainable and universally-accessible tourism, paying particular attention to the interests of developing countries.
“With the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17) just around the corner, it is extremely gratifying to be recognized by an organisation of this standing, and this proves that South Africa is at the forefront of environmental certification development and standards,” said Greg McManus, managing director of Heritage.
The UNWTO encourages the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, with a view to ensuring that member countries, tourist destinations, and businesses maximize the positive economic, social, and cultural effects of tourism and fully reap its benefits, while minimizing its negative social and environmental impacts.
Its membership includes 154 countries, seven territories, and over 400 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations, and local tourism authorities.
Acceptance by the UNWTO proves that the South African-developed standard is of international relevance and a leader in the field of environmental certification in tourism.
“In this light, Heritage is taking a leading role in ensuring that visitors to the conference experience an environmentally-responsible stay while in Durban. Efforts to encourage as many hotels and accommodation establishments in the city to commit to responsible business practice are well underway,” McManus added.