12 SMEs trained on sustainable tourism and certifications in Cagliari

A 2-days training session took place in Cagliari (IT) on the 24 and 25 March 2022, for 12 SMEs, with a double mission: Providing SMEs with a set of common sustainability knowledge and basic concepts applied to tourism and teaching them about different certification systems. The trainings were held by Federica Peluso from Sustainability Consultant-Ergo.

This first training session was named “Sustainable development, circular economy and environmental management-key concepts and principles and their application to the tourism sector.” It started with an overview of the evolution of sustainable tourism since the 1950s. Even though the impact of tourism on the environment was not a key priority in the 1950s, the perception changed with the emergence of mass tourism in the 1960s. The first studies on the topic were published in the 1970s and listed factors of potential environmental harm as the following: The intensity of tourist exploitation of the natural resource; the resilience of the ecosystem; the economic horizon of local decision-makers, public and private; the evolving characteristics of tourist demand. Nowadays, sustainable tourism is largely promoted by the United Nations through its World Tourism Organization, an agency, and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Several other initiatives exist on the topic, such as the European Sustainable Tourism Charter, and tourism is also impacted by the European Green Deal in overall. The rest of the session aimed at introducing SMEs to the key principles behind the concepts of sustainable development, circular economy, and environmental management, to create a common ground of knowledge among the participants about terminology, basic notions and main regulatory frameworks. The session ended on the presentation of sustainable tourism as a competitive advantage, and how companies could make the best out of it.

The second training session was called “Environmental Standards and Environmental Certifications of Products, Services and Organizations”. It aimed at enhancing participants’ awareness and understanding of the most common environmental standards, certifications and labels for products and organizations, in order to highlight implications of such tools for tourism activities. It started with an explanation of the different distinctions on the market: the certifications, the labels, the trademarks, the declaration, as well as motives and objectives leading organizations to adopt similar tools. To this day, over 350 distinctions exist on the market. The presentation then focused on 2 norms and 1 label: The environmental management system (EMS) – ISO 14001 norm, and on the Eco-Management & Audit Scheme (EMAS), and the Ecolabel. It gave the participants a detailed insight on the certification process, the advantages and on the implications of these: The scope of the certification schemes, the requirements for adoption, control or auditing mechanisms, external communication aspects, as well as benefits from adoption in terms of environmental improvement and competitive positioning, and many other. The second session ended on an introduction to Green Procurement and sustainable business models in tourism.