There is a new sense of urgency about improving sustainability of the tourism sector. Europe is becoming more and more popular tourist destination, commanding a market share of the world tourism industry bigger than 40%. Along with this positive economic impact, however, tourism puts a significant strain on European natural environments and socio-cultural authenticity.
Many initiatives have been undertaken in the EU to raise public awareness of sustainability and to ensure sustainable management of tourist destinations, businesses and products. Numerous Europe-wide reports, however, prove that the workforce employed in the sector still lacks the right, green skill set for implementing principles of sustainable development.
Tourism sector in Europe is dominated by micro and small enterprises (MSEs), which often have lack of resources to invest either in sustainable practices or in workforce skills development. At the same time, many sustainable tourism practices have already proven their economic viability to micro and small enterprises. Moreover, affordability and cost efficiency of such practices increase significantly, if MSEs create clusters and combine efforts to implement them.
The Sustain-T project, therefore, aims to enhance the sustainability performance of EU micro and small enterprises in the tourism sector by raising their managers’ awareness of sustainable tourism practices and improving their networking and collaboration skills for establishing new green alliances and implementing joint sustainability initiatives.
Project’s specific objectives are:
1. Develop an on-line training package, addressing challenges tourism MSEs face in transforming their business model towards sustainability;
2. Create interactive tools, facilitating collaboration of tourism MSEs in developing joint sustainability initiatives;
3. Provide tourism MSEs with an open educational resource - an interactive learning platform containing all Sustain-T training material;
4. Deliver guidelines for MSEs and for VET providers on using the developed materials and resources in their practice.
The project utilises life-cycle methodology, which implies a sequence of activities for planning, executing and disseminating the project results. During the project lifetime, the following intellectual outputs will be developed:
1. Sustain-T curriculum, based on a genuine research into challenges tourism MSEs face in improving sustainability performance of their firms;
2. Sustain-T learning content, structured around the four main themes of GSTC criteria;
3. Interactive Self-audit, Resource-mapping & Ideation tools, allowing for: reflection on the current state of sustainability of a tourism enterprise; analysis of available resources for sustainability improvement; and collective idea generation for developing and undertaking joint sustainable tourism initiatives;
4. E-learning platform – a virtual learning environment, containing all Sustain-T training materials and e-tools;
5. Guidelines for MSEs and Handbook for VET providers, facilitating usage of Sustain-T training package by the project’s target groups.
The project is targeted at owners and managers of EU tourism micro and small enterprises and at VET providers, trainers and learners interested in sustainable tourism issues. More than 1500 representatives of the project target groups and stakeholders will be directly involved in project activities and events (such as Curriculum validation workshops, Training launch seminars, National promotional conferences and others). Close relationship with the project stakeholders – “multiplier agents” (tourism administration and management bodies, tourism associations, professional associations and networks, etc.) will be established and supported throughout the lifetime of the project and at least for five years after project completion. For this time, the consortium plans that Sustain-T training and e-tools will reach out to and will be used by more than 25000 tourism enterprises and tourism education and training institutions in the partners’ countries.
By achieving its aim, the Sustain-T project will be a first step towards a more ambitious objective of providing a comprehensive tool for learning about sustainability and tourism in Europe. Promoting sustainability initiatives of EU tourism enterprises will move Europe closer to its ultimate goal: making our continent a home of sustainable destinations.