Along with diving, ecotourism and other types of adventure travel have mushroomed. So, in 2018, based in a proposal from Portugal, ISO published ISO 20611, Adventure tourism – Good practices for sustainability – Requirements and recommendations. This standard describes how adventure tourism organizations can operate sustainably and promote benign practices for both participants and local communities. Environmental sustainability, for example, can be upheld by careful planning and risk assessment, such as using renewable energy sources, having an awareness of waste regulations and areas with fragile ecosystems.
ISO 20611 also demonstrates how communication between the host, participants and local communities can be used to raise awareness of sustainable practices such as recycling, as well as informing the local community as to why adventure tourism is beneficial. For example, operators may wish to educate the local community in skills that enhance the tourism industry, which in turn further strengthens relationships.
So what types of environmental impacts motivated ISO/TC 228 to develop the standard? “In both adventure and ecotourism there is a potential risk to increase the flow of tourists in destinations without the necessary measures in place to mitigate negative impacts in these areas, especially fragile ecosystems. The standard both promotes the conservation of natural habitats as well as developing respect for the communities who receive tourism,” explains Leonardo Persi, who led the working group that developed ISO 20611. In other words, the standard fosters a win-win.