Many ISO International Standards support the objectives of this year’s World Tourism Day (WTD) on the theme of, "Tourism and sustainable energy: Powering sustainable development". The event, held every year on 27 September, is organized by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), which itself participates in the ISO committees developing standards on tourism and public information symbols.
According to the UNWTO, tourism can play a role in creating a brighter future, where the world’s entire population has access to modern, efficient and affordable energy services. In a dedicated message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon states, "One of the world’s largest economic sectors, tourism is especially well-placed to promote environmental sustainability, green growth and our struggle against climate change through its relationship with energy."
ISO standards provide practical, internationally harmonized solutions and best practice to help make these goals a reality. ISO 50001 for energy management systems for instance, can be used by organizations to optimize their energy use. The recently published ISO 20121 for sustainable event management, can make sport games, concerts, festivals, conferences and many other activities "greener". And the use of environmental standards, such as ISO 14001, can help stakeholders in the industry – whether hotels, tour operators, food and other service providers – to take care of our planet.
In addition, ISO has a committee developing standards specifically for the tourism industry, ISO/TC 228, Tourism services. Currently, ISO/TC 228 is working on a number of standards for adventure tourism (safety and information to participants), diving, natural protected areas and spas, to name a few.
ISO Secretary-General Rob Steele comments, "Most of us have been tourists at some point in our lives. So it’s easy for us to understand why standards are so important when in foreign places! Standardized public information symbols, for example, help us get information even if we don’t understand the language. Country and currency codes simplify currency exchanges. Passport and identification card standards make it easier to prove our identity when crossing borders.
"The theme of this year’s World Tourism Day is particularly timely. Tourism is a key driver for socio-economic development, and one of the main income sources for many developing countries, which make up the majority of ISO members. It is therefore important for ISO to develop relevant, reliable and practical standards that meet the needs of the industry and help it grow, but that also enable it to ensure a prosperous and sustainable future."