Tourism and Guam’s sustainable development initiatives

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Dr. Austin Shelton, director of the Center for Island Sustainability at the University of Guam, states that through an executive order signed by the Governor, they have brought together 97 different working group members representing different sectors of society. (PNC photo)

The Guam Visitors Bureau held a virtual workshop Wednesday to share updates on Guam’s sustainable development initiatives.

GVB and representatives from Guam Green Growth and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council shared updates on Guam’s sustainable development initiatives and destination improvement plan.

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Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio stated that there are plans in motion in order to help Guam.

He talked about plans such as island beautification and to enable change agents in the general public and to ensure they shepherd resources in the right direction.

In terms of plans that are already set in motion, Dr. Austin Shelton, director of the Center for Island Sustainability at the University of Guam, states that through an executive order signed by the Governor, they have brought together 97 different working group members representing different sectors of society.

This has resulted in the largest comprehensive public-private partnership ever created in order to achieve a more sustainable future for Guam.

Dr. Shelton also said that they are working closely with the Guam Green Growth Conservation Corps which is a workforce training opportunity in the upcoming green economy.

“So for the next 5 months, these conservation corps members are learning about agriculture, about aquaculture, removal of invasive species, energy sufficiency, reforestation, so they’ll have these new skills to bring back to whichever industries they’ll be working in following the program. Another thing we’re working through that program are island beautification events,” Dr. Shelton said.

According to Dr. Shelton, every Friday, the program will be cleaning different villages to help with island beautification.

In terms of legalities, standards, and practices, keynote speaker and CEO of Global Sustainable Tourism Council Randy Durband said that as a non-government organization, they are more than willing to help Guam lead the way in terms of sustainability.

However, the people of Guam would have to want and show interest in receiving their help. The GSTC has its standards set for the public to use and should industries need certification or accreditation, they can get those at a modest rate.

“That’s the starting point … just to understand the breadth of sustainable tourism, by looking at the set of standards. Because it’s pretty clear that people are confused about what we mean by sustainable tourism. People might think greenhouse gasses, plastic, coral reef preservation… those are all there but so is health safety, social justice, non-discriminatory hiring within tourism. There are social elements, cultural elements… so its the whole range of responsible actions and sustainable actions”

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