Chile to pilot new global sustainable tourism benchmark program

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council has selected Puerto Varas and Frutillar to test out its new Criteria and Indicators for Destinations program.

The lakeside towns of Puerto Varas and Frutillar have always been well-known for their beauty, but now there’s a new reason to include these destinations on your Chilean itinerary: they’re working to become leaders in the sustainable tourism industry.

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) has selected Puerto Varas and Frutillar to become part of its pilot program to test out new criteria for sustainable tourism design. Puerto Varas and Frutillar, along with the Cusco-Sacred Valley-Machu Picchu corridor in Peru, are the first South American destinations to be selected for the program.

Housed within the United Nations World Tourism Organization, GSTC is a worldwide endeavor that aims to share and promote information about sustainable tourism. Their Criteria and Indicators for Destinations program, which is now in its pilot stage, created a set of steps for approaching sustainability that can be implemented at tourism destinations around the world.

Members of GSTC’s partner organization Sustainable Travel International will soon be traveling to Chile to consult with key stakeholders in Puerto Varas and Frutillar, including NGOs, community leaders, government agencies, and private sector tourism companies. With information gained in Chile, GSTC hopes to create a final version of their Criteria and Indicators for Destinations to distribute worldwide that takes into account the realities of actual tourism destinations like Puerto Varas and Frutillar.

These two Chilean towns were selected to test out this new set of GSTC criteria because of their “impact on the environment, their economic and social benefits to communities, and their education of visitors and residents, among other criteria,” according to the GSTC website.

GSTC was also impressed with the sustainable tourism initiatives already taking place in Chile.

“Tourism is growing steadily across Chile, and the destination has recently initiated a local sustainable tourism committee tasked with ensuring that development happens with preservation of local culture, environment and community needs in mind,” GSTC said.

Located in the Los Lagos Region of Chile, both Frutillar and Puerto Varas are situated on the shore of Lago Llanquihue, one of South America’s largest lakes. Both towns offer excellent options for families and outdoor-lovers alike, with fun activities like skiing and natural hot springs nearby.