The Regional Secretary for Energy, Environment and Tourism mentioned today that the certification of the Azores as a Sustainable Tourist Destination is a “continuous process” and a “commitment to leadership, by example and responsibility for the future”.
According to Marta Guerreiro, “This is a process that does not end. In fact, it is a continuous process that has to involve an even broader set of entities and citizens, increasingly aware of the responsibility of raising the name Azores to the highest standards of sustainability”.
The Regional Secretary spoke at the opening of the Consultative Committee for the Sustainability of the Azores Tourist Destination, which meets at least once a year, as part of the monitoring of the certification process of the Azores as a Sustainable Destination, by the certifying entity EarthCheck.
This consultative group is composed of public, associative and private entities, representing their directly interests related to the Sustainability of the Azores Tourist Destination.
This session presented a review of the process and the respective status of the certification achieved in 2019, as well as the progress of the actions of the 2020-2027 Action Plan.
Marta Guerreiro referred that “this was a process that involved a lot of work, not always visible, where we received high praise from the certifying entity”.
Among some of the strengths mentioned by EarthCheck, the holder of the Azores Tourism sector highlighted “the organizational structure of destination management, made up of this Advisory Committee, Monitoring Groups and Green Teams from all islands, which allowed the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders”, but also the Sustainability Charter, the communication strategy, and the effort collecting evidence and organizing the requested documentation.
“For all these strengths, the auditors congratulated the Region for being the first time they identified so little non-conformities in a first audit of a destination”, emphasized Marta Guerreiro.
According to the Regional Secretary, due to the challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, this certification is the proof that “the Azores have made a unique path in the development of this activity, anticipating a set of organization and planning work in favor of the territory and the sector, lined up with the measures that are now required of all world’s tourist destinations ”.
“We are an example of good practices in this area, with a rich international notoriety, because we developed a complete work in line with international sustainability”, she reinforced, recalling that the Azores are the only archipelago in the world and the only region in the country with this distinction.
“More than a policy, it is a responsibility towards the future”, referred the Regional Secretary, assuring that “sustainability is an approach that must be present in all human activity, from business to political decisions, from social to environmental interactions”.
Marta Guerreiro also stated that “achieving a sustainable future means being able to overcome a set of complex challenges, which can only be achieved through cooperation and partnerships, with the collective awareness of the impacts of our behavior”, appealing to the involvement of an “increasing range of local and international players”.
The Azores Tourism Association (ATA), Portugal Hotels Association (AHP), Portugal’s Hotel, Restaurant and Similar Association (AHRESP), Portuguese Association of Travel and Tourism Agencies (APAVT), University of the Azores, Azorean Institute of Culture, Agricultural Federation of the Azores and security and protection entities were some of the members that made their contributions, giving their testimony of what they are carrying out in their areas, and showing total availability to continue to be the dynamic agents of the sector.
More information on the certification of the Azores as a Sustainable Tourist Destination can be obtained athttps://sustainable.azores.gov.pt/