National Geographic - Center for Sustainable Destinations: Working to protect the worlds distinctive places through wisely managed tourism and enlightened destination stewardship.

For Tourism Professionals

Photo: Landscape of Vermont in the fall

An iconic white clapboard church at peak foliage in New England.

Photograph by B. Anthony Stewart

Explore these links if you work in the travel industry, academia, government, or for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) involved with tourism management.

International Policy Organizations—U.N., international industry organizations, international development organizations.

Multipurpose Sustainable Tourism Sites—discussions, articles, reports, debate, etc.

The following three sections link to sites with practical, sustainable-tourism assistance for entrepreneurs, lodging managers, economic development workers, etc.:

If you work in community development, or are concerned about Destination Appeal, look also at the hyperlinks page for Communities.

International Policy Organizations

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

The site for the multilateral agreement on biodiversity protection includes a program on Sustainable Use and Tourism. You can search for experts, meetings, and activities related to it. As part of CBD, the Germany-based Ecological Tourism in Europe (ETE) runs an online forum discussing tourism guidelines related to the convention. Members-only archive.

International Porter Protection Group

This grassroots network based in Nepal advocates for better conditions for porters around the world. See the guidelines for recommendations to protect porters at

International Union for Conservation of Nature

This global coalition of experts distributes extensive information on conservation-related matters around the world.

U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), Tourism Caucus Mailing List

The caucus advises the CSD on tourism policy. Its site gives links to U.N. dialogues on tourism, concept papers, and a discussion mailing list. Open to the public, but mainly for members of pertinent organizations.

U.N. Environmental Program (UNEP) Sustainable Tourism Site

Well-organized information includes definitions of sustainable tourism and ecotourism, description of tourism impacts, and steps being taken internationally toward sustainable tourism development.

U.N. International Year of Ecotourism-2002 (IYE)

This United Nations site explains the IYE. You can find reports presented at the World Ecotourism Summit (held in Quebec City, May 2002) and the resulting Quebec Declaration on Ecotourism.

UNESCO World Heritage Center

Provides a list of UNESCO cultural and natural World Heritage Sites and describes services that the center offers to member states. Discusses management of protected areas and sustainable tourism in general.

U.N. World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

This intergovernmental body works for promotion and development of tourism. The site provides recent tourism statistics and includes a sustainable tourism section with definitions, information on relevant events, and lists of UNWTO's activities and publications.

World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC)

WTTC represents the travel industry. Members are mainly larger companies. The site includes information on sustainable tourism and various WTTC initiatives and services.

The World Bank Group: International Finance Corporation (IFC)

Part of the World Bank, IFC finances private-sector projects in the developing world, including those in sustainable tourism. Through the Global Environment Facility, IFC also funds some small ecotourism projects as part of the biodiversity protection initiative.

Multipurpose Sustainable Tourism Sites

World Hotel Link

Uses a network of local travel professionals to connect geo-savvy travelers with off-the-beaten-track hotels, B&Bs, tours, and activities, especially in developing areas.

Big Volcano Ecotourism Resource Center

This Australian site provides ecotourism and sustainable tourism research papers, website links, and codes of practice.

Business Enterprises for Sustainable Travel (BEST)

Highlights businesses, communities, and travelers that exemplify sustainable tourism practices.

Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST)

CAST is a subsidiary of the Caribbean Hotel Association, with members from private, government, scientific, and conservation organizations. It helps Caribbean travel businesses manage environmental resources in a sustainable way. The site lists programs, publications, and assistance available through CAST. The Island Resources Foundation runs an online discussion group for CAST. (Public archive.)

Cultures on the Edge

A quarterly online magazine that discusses issues of cultural diversity. Its "Learn" section includes articles on impacts of tourism development.

ECOTIP-European Network for Sustainable Development

Presents sustainable-tourism issues, certification progams, and lists of award-winning accommodations, tour operators, and more. Forum on seeking a common standard for European ecolabels.


Forum for networking and discussing sustainable ecotourism and adventure travel. Run by the U.K.-based nonprofit organization Conserve Africa International (CAI). Subscribers post information on forthcoming events, conferences, new publications, websites, training sources, job announcements, and fundraising opportunities. (Members-only archives.)

Green Travel

Marcus Endicott's long-standing informative listserv and online forum for discussion of sustainable tourism.

Hawaii Ecotourism Association

Dedicated to responsible tourism in Hawaii, this site provides information and a resource network for professionals.

International Centre for Responsible Tourism

Harold Goodwin's site has links to reports, working papers, training programs, conferences, international initiatives, tour operator initiatives, and destinations.

International Tourism Partnership

This program of the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum provides resources for responsible business in hotels, travel, and tourism. Also featured is information on best practices, guidelines, publications, a hotel benchmarking tool, and a new book for decision makers, Sustainable Hotel Siting, Design and Construction.

International Institute for Peace Through Tourism (IIPT)

IIPT organizes conferences and initiatives for peace through tourism. The site gives links to past and future conference programs, which discuss social and environmental aspects of tourism.

Island Resources Foundation

Based in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, this research, education, and conservation organization provides publications, bibliographies, and papers on island tourism issues.


This international organization disseminates information from and about indigenous peoples. The site's tourism section links to appropriate organizations and resources.

Ron Mader's award-winning site on practical ecotourism. Its initial focus on Latin America has now expanded to encompass worldwide issues pertaining to sustainable tourism. The site features news, articles, an eco-travel directory, recommended reads, and a world forum linking to all Planeta discussion boards.

Sustainable Tourism CRC

Funded by the Australian government, this useful site contains research reports, publications, and information on projects and policies regarding sustainable tourism in Australia.

Task Force on Tourism and Protected Areas

This program of the World Commission on Protected Areas presents management guidelines, best practice models, and tourism management theory.

Tearfund: Tourism Campaign

This U.K. Christian nonprofit coordinates a Right to Know campaign, helping travelers make informed choices when purchasing tour packages.

Tourism Concern

This U.K.-based group supplies news, articles, statistics, codes, and hyperlinks about tourism impacts on communities and the environment.

Travel Mole

A site for travel industry news with a section on sustainable travel. Free access, short registration form.

Tourism Watch

Established by the German Protestant Church, this nonprofit offers training programs and solidarity initiatives pertaining to "Third World" tourism. Quarterly magazines, seminars, research, and reports (German and English).

World Heritage Information Network

Information on the natural and cultural sites on UNESCO's World Heritage list.

World Parks Congress

The World Commission on Protected Areas (its formal name) provides information regarding the global forum held once in a decade, this time in Durban, South Africa, on September 8-17, 2003, including the agenda, past congresses, and news bulletins.


International conservation group facilitating various responsible tourism programs worldwide.

WWF Arctic Programme

Arctic Awards, certification systems, publications, updates, workshops, and news from this project that collaborates with local Arctic businesses to implement WWF Codes of Conduct (in several languages).

WWF Brazil Tourism & Environment Program

provides details of ecotourism projects and achievements to date (Portuguese and English).

WWF Mediterranean Programme

links to conservation and ecotourism projects in Croatia, Tunisia, Turkey, and Libya. Provides news updates for the Mediterranean region.

Sustainable-Tourism Assistance—General How-To

Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf

Assistance in making golf courses eco-friendly, through case studies, a managed lands database, golf and environment research database, special projects, and events

Blue Flag

A certification program for environmentally clean beaches and marinas in Europe, South Africa, and the Caribbean.

Costa Rica: Certification for Sustainable Tourism program

The Costa Rican Tourism Institute presents a certification program for the lodging industry, with inquisitive online self-evaluations for lodgings. Also provides a directory of hotels, allowing visitors to search by certification level, province, and hotel type.

"Green" Hotels Association

The organization promotes and supports the "greening" of the lodging industry. It has members from the U.S., Europe, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Managers of hotels from all types and categories can benefit from the association's services by obtaining suggestions and ideas on how to reduce negative impacts on the environment.

Green Seal

An independent nonprofit organization promoting the manufacturing and sale of environmentally responsible consumer products. It has partnered with the American Hotel & Motel Association in the development of a lodging certification program and a publication called "Greening Your Property."

Hotel Benchmarking Tool

Helps hotels improve environmental performance and reduce costs.

Institute for Policy Studies: Center on Ecotourism and Sustainable Development

This program of the Washington, D.C. think tank is developing guidelines for accrediting sustainable-tourism certifiers of all types. The site links to related reports.

National Geographic Conservation Trust

Application procedures for research and project grants that include conservation-related tourism.

Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA)-Office of the Environment and Culture

Provides a code of sustainable tourism and certification information for its members.

Partners in Responsible Tourism

This San Francisco-based network of tourism professionals and organizations lists events, panel discussions, articles, symposiums, and other responsible-tourism information.

Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Tourism Program

This conservation group based in New York is coordinating research on an international mechanism for accrediting certifiers. Together with an Ecuadorian environmental group, the Alliance also runs a certification program for tour boats in the Galapagos Islands.

Sustainable Architecture Building and Culture

A clearinghouse of sustainable building resources. Gives information on eco-friendly building materials, recycling, renewable energy and more. General information, not specific to the lodging industry.

Sustainable Sources

A clearinghouse of sustainable building resources provides a directory of professionals, a sourcebook to help industry professionals find employees for specialized positions, and lists of conferences, online discussions, articles, case studies, and related sites.

Tour Operators' Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development

Helps tour operators respond to international policies and conduct tours that minimize negative impacts and optimize benefits.

Tourism Research Links

René Waksberg's site for tourism researchers, consultants, and managers lists several links to sustainable development websites and other sources of assistance.

U.S. Green Building Council

A clearinghouse of green building information featuring links to members, green building case studies, guidelines, a monthly newsletter, and more. General information, not specific to the lodging industry.

Sustainable-Tourism Assistance—Ecotourism How-To

Brazilian Biodiversity Fund (FUNBIO)

Ecotourism programs and projects in Brazil (Portuguese and English).

Certification for Sustainable Tourism, Costa Rica

A certification program for tourism companies in Costa Rica. (English and Spanish.)

Conservation International (CI)

This conservation nonprofit works in biodiversity hotspots worldwide, including community ecotourism projects and initiatives for fostering partnerships between hotspot communities and travel businesses.

Conserve Africa: Ecotourism Development Programme

This U.K. organization lists ecotourism workshops and seminars, and provides an interactive online discussion forum called "Green Tour."


A multilingual Athens-based website that posts news on ecotourism, events, and jobs; also provides a publications archive and experts that offer free consultations.

Ecotourism Australia

The site for Australia's ecotourism industry group gives general information and links to its certification program for ecotour guides and its Nature and Ecotourism Certification Program.

The International Ecotourism Society

This U.S.-based group provides networking and operational guidelines for ecotourism operators and ecolodges, as well as information services to researchers and conservationists.

U.N. International Year of Ecotourism-2002 (IYE)

This United Nations site explains the IYE. You can find reports presented at the World Ecotourism Summit (held in Quebec City, May 2002) and the resulting Quebec Declaration on Ecotourism.

The Nature Conservancy

The ecotourism program of this U.S.-based conservation organization includes market research, guide training, enterprise development, and business partnerships. The Nature Conservancy works with communities both in the U.S. and abroad.

Ocean Revolution

Identifying future ocean leaders and providing them with communication tools to fulfill their promise.

RARE Center for Tropical Conservation

The site gives details on RARE Enterprises' ecotourism and community development programs, including nature-guide training for local residents. Formerly concentrating on Meso-America, RARE is broadening its focus to natural World Heritage Sites in all tropical regions.

See Turtles

Protecting sea turtles by offering unforgettable experiences that directly benefit sea turtles and the organizations protecting them.

Sustainable-Tourism Assistance—Culture and Heritage How-To

Alliance for Tribal Tourism Advocates

A U.S. association of individuals and organizations concerned about responsible tourism development in Indian communities. Created by tribal governments in the South Dakota area. Links to websites of U.S. tribes and various indigenous organizations.

International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)

This nongovernmental organization for conservation of historic monuments and sites collects and disseminates information on conservation principles, techniques, and policies. Follow the link of a specific national committee for technical assistance services and ICOMOS publications available in your country. The ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Cultural Tourism presents general information and principles.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

This U.S.-based nonprofit offers various services. Hotels occupying buildings more than 50 years old can apply for membership in the marketing program Historic Hotels of America, which publishes a directory and provides a central reservation service. The members-only forum offers a jobs board, a calendar of conferences, announcements about grants, awards, and other opportunities, and a database of preservation success stories. For information on other Trust programs—Main Street, Heritage Tourism, and Rural Heritage—refer to the Communities page.

National Trust for Historic Preservation Library, University of Maryland

The university lists preservation sites worldwide (under "Quick Links") organized geographically and alphabetically. Catalogs and databases offer articles, journals, books, architectural records, theaters, and performance halls.

Partners in Tourism: Culture and Commerce

Background information on this coalition of national associations, federal agencies and nonprofit cultural service organizations building a common agenda for cultural tourism.

Slow Food

This Italian publisher is the founder of the international "Slow Food" movement to combat fast-food globalization by promoting traditional cuisines and ways of life. The site's "Slow Food Editore" section specializes in tourism, food, and wine. (English, Italian, and French.)

World Monuments Fund (WMF)

This private nonprofit organization preserves culturally and historically significant works of art and architecture worldwide. The site gives information on grant programs with potential for cultural-heritage tourism.

Academic Sites—Universities, Research Groups, etc.

Commission on the Geography of Tourism, Leisure and Global Change

An International Geographical Union commission providing research, publications, links and announcements from academic professionals' study. The site also offers a forum for the Tourism Geography Commission.


Purchase from a large store of ecotourism magazines, books, and more, provided by the United Nations Environmental Program and others.

Earthwatch Institute

Scientific research trips supported by paying volunteers, with many educational and conservation projects geared toward sustainability issues, and a few specifically on tourism impacts.

The George Washington University, Washington, DC: Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management

The site gives links to its undergraduate, graduate, and distance-learning programs, which cover sustainability issues and offer concentrations in ecotourism. There is also a link to the International Institute for Tourism Studies associated with the department.

Journal of Sustainable Tourism

Brief overviews of journal contents and information on ordering. You can download full articles for a fee.

Griffith University (Australia), International Centre for Ecotourism Research

The center runs one of the world's most in-depth research programs on ecotourism-its environmental and cultural impacts, economic policies, and green behavior guidelines. You'll find progress reports, experts, and publications on the site, but not findings and report texts.

International Geographical Union (IGU)

IGU news, events, and links to geography academics around the world. See its Commission on the Geography of Tourism, Leisure and Global Change

The Studienkreis für Tourismus und Entwicklung (Institute for Tourism and Development)

Germany-based think tank dealing with research, development, and education in tourism, including an annual "dialogue" on particularly sensitive issues with top management and media. (German and English.)

Tourism Research Links

René Waksberg's site for tourism researchers, consultants, and managers lists links to tourism schools, journals, and research institutes.

University of Otago, New Zealand, Department of Tourism

Publication listings, ongoing research by students and professors, international collaborations, events, links, conferences, and affiliated organizations.