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Valsugana: a partecipatory strategy for our eco-destination!

Valsugana is sustainable! It’s not just a certification, it is a point of pride for our valley and our community as a whole! We are the first GSTC certified destination worldwide.


After 15 years of planning, designing, implementing and monitoring the tourism activity in our area, we have realized it was now the right time to start opening a conversation on what has already been done and what can be the a future tourism development that takes into account a need for a more quality tourism and for respect towards the lifestyle of local communities.

Among our long-run strategic goals, we have therefore decided to integrate a big focus on actions towards sustainability, involving the whole community in the process. This concept is already widespread and part of the local culture; the moment has now come to systematize what already is common knowledge and implement it with new actions, making our destination more and more “natural-ly true”.

In this sense, the route that has now led towards the GSTC certification has been interpreted as a concrete direction for the next activities of the Tourist Board and for the active participation of the locals for a new development model. A model that combines the needs of a quality tourism market and of the community living the territory with the awareness that Valsugana is where WE like to live!

A such innovative process has been supported by a team of experts coming from the University of Padua (“ETIFOR”).

What is "GSTC" and why did we choose it?

 

The 100 and more GSTC indicators have been designed to actualize the 17 Sustainable Development Goals as defined by the United Nations, which are divided into 4 macro categories:

  • sustainable destination strategy;
  • maximize economic benefits to the host community and minimize negative impacts;
  • maximize benefits to communities, visitors and culture, minimize negative impacts;
  • maximize benefits to the environment and minimize negative impacts.

The GSTC is the only organization among the about 50 ecolabels worldwide that guarantees the following characteristics, certifying its excellence.

  • international value;
  • specific standards for hotels, tour operators and destinations;
  • it checks the observance of all sustainability criteria (economical, cultural and environmental);
  • the fulfillment of all criteria is certified by an independent authority, securing not self-referentiality

For these reasons companies leader in their industry such as TUI and Alpitour have already decided to implement these standards into their strategy and management.
 

What does “being sustainable” mean?

 


Sustainability is a very wide and complex concept, it is not influenced only by environmentally, economical or cultural aspects but also by how these interact together. Here are some actions that we believe are primary:

  • sensitize business owners, locals and tourists on matters concerning sustainability. One of the actions put into place has been the project "Giovani Ambasciatori del Territorio"; during a 3-months period, young adults got the chance to attend several classes on several different aspects of managing a destination and live and work closely to the population;
  • design of a method for the organization of "plastic free" event during which protection of the environment and the sensibilization of the participants become the main focuses;
  • support to events that promote attention for the environment and sensibilization towards sustainability;
  • monitor of economic, cultural and environmental aspects of the destination and collection of data useful for future development and adjustments;
  • projects that support mountain businesses, focusing on biodiversity and environment protection. Two of these are the “Vacanze in Baita” project (old alpine huts that have been renovated and then devoted to a new format of “rural hospitality”) and the “Adopt a cow” project (through the “adoption” of a cow grazing on the Lagorai chain, the mountain gets new life and the tourist an authentic experience).
  • facilitate collaboration between business owners and public bodies towards actions with positive impacts on the territory.
 

What does this certification mean to us?

 

Being the first certified destination worldwide according the GSTC criteria means having reached an extremely important objective, a point of pride for the whole valley, which has actively been part of the process. At the same time, it represents a boost for new actions and activities that haven’t been part of the “traditional” tasks of a Tourist Board so far.


The process that has led us to the certification is the embodiment of our lifestyle, our values and our identity… always respectful of the environment we live in!
At the same time, sustainability is the common thread that ties the top products crucial for the promotion of our territory. An inestimable added value: we are the only ones that have two Blue Flag lakes in a sustainable valley.


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