The Korean-French collaborative team Ensemble ("together") hosted its 4th Eco-Quartier ("eco-neighborhood") Seminar in Suwon, South Korea, on October 4th, 2018.
The seminar took place at the Korea Farmers Center and included two presentations:
Also read Seoul Spearheads Global Efforts to Promote Fair and Sustainable Urban Tourism.
The seminar was concluded by a visit of the "Romadic" micro-compact house, specially designed for romantic urban nomads by Architect Seong-Hun KIM.
"Ensemble" is a French-Korean team of professionals involved in eco-architecture, green urban development, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable smart urban tourism. It was established in 2017 with the purpose to build and implement collaborative and participative solutions and projects aimed at promoting sustainable development strategies, business models and lifestyles in urban environments.
Ensemble team is currently composed of:
Millennium Hikers, a Seoul-based international group promoting intercultural, responsible and sustainable sports and leisure experiences, was an official partner of the first edition of Fête du Sport in Korea, which took place on Sept. 21 to 23, 2018 in France.
To celebrate this initiative, as well as the bilateral sports cooperation between France and Korea, Millennium Hikers organized a special urban hike on Sept. 22, 2018.
This was also an opportunity to raise awareness of fair and sustainable urban tourism and the global campaign “Fair Travel Living Together” led by the Seoul Tourism Organization.
Also read Seoul Spearheads Global Efforts to Promote Fair and Sustainable Urban Tourism.
On Sept. 28, representatives of Millennium Hikers were invited at the French Embassy to commemorate Fête du Sport, together with other partners, friends and several personalities such as Mr. LEE Hee-beom, Chairman of the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee, Mr. UM Hong-il, a the famous Korean mountain climber, Mr. CHO Jaekhee, Chairman of the Korea Sports Promotion Federation, Mr. Jake Eunsuk KIM, the Secretary-General of the Korean Canoe Federation.
Author: Catherine Germier-Hamel, Smart sustainable tourism consultant
“Tourist Go home”
“Tourist: your luxury trip, my daily misery”
“Your tourism kills my neighborhood”.
These kinds of messages have likely been noticed in travel destinations that have become victims of their own success and attractiveness. Indeed, for many residents living in popular landmarks, tourism can often be experienced as a nightmare rather than a dream.
While many cities have been overwhelmed by mass tourism and what is now called “overtourism”, Seoul has been striving to promote alternative forms of tourism that do not put pressure on destinations and offer quality experiences to citizens as well as visitors.
As the host city of the 7th UNWTO Global Summit on Urban Tourism, which recently took place on 16-19 September, the South Korean capital is determined to spearhead global discussions and efforts towards fair, responsible and sustainable urban tourism.
Tourism Larger than Life?
Over the past decade, international tourist arrivals (or overnight visitors) have grown steadily across the world to reach a total of 1.3 billion, according to the estimates published by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). In 2017, international arrivals grew by a noticeable 7%, the highest increase since 2010. By 2030, they are expected to exceed the threshold of 1.8 billion.
The world third-largest export sector, tourism is a fast growing industry which accounts for 10.4% of the global GDP through its direct, indirect and induced effects, and represents one in 10 jobs on the planet. Due to the investment and economic benefits or opportunities it provides, tourism has become a priority sector for many countries, especially developing nations where it represents a major source of revenues.
The positive contribution of tourism has been acknowledged by the United Nations and the international community. At the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in 2012, global leaders have recognized that “well-designed and well-managed tourism” can contribute to the three dimensions of sustainable development, to job creation and to trade. Tourism is clearly mentioned in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and three of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015 by the international community, and the UN General Assembly designated 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
Having said that, tourism development strategies have usually focused on quantitative rather than qualitative objectives, namely increasing the number of tourism arrivals, most of the time without any specific plans to prevent, control and monitor the negative impacts of tourism.
As a human activity, tourism is a heavy consumer of local resources that are often scarce. Occasionally dubbed “an industry without chimney”, tourism can cause environmental damages and pollution, including noise and visual pollution. Tourism activities can threaten natural and cultural heritages, and disturb the social and cultural harmony of host communities. Moreover, a recent study of the University of Sydney, Australia, has quantified the carbon footprint of the global travel and tourism industry across the supply chain, and revealed that it contributed to 8 per cent of the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, 70 per cent of them being due to transportation. It is likely that this contribution will continue to augment in the future, and some tourism experiences and even destinations might disappear due to climate change.
Getting over with big numbers
In addition to megatrends such as globalization, urbanization, demographic shifts, rising middle-class and affluence, together with technological innovations leading to increased convenience and awareness, the emergence of new tourist destinations, and the rapid rise of low-cost carriers have fueled the expansion of international travel at a tremendous rate. Due to the overcrowding of their environments and the subsequent nuisances and disturbances, local residents have been under constant pressure, stress and tension, leading to a growing rejection of tourists and tourism, sometimes called tourist-phobia. This has been worsened by the emergence of home-sharing platforms that have priced residents out of the property market.
Even if tourism has been taking its toll on destinations for decades, the term “overtourism” is actually quite new and has become a hot topic only a few years ago. In Collins dictionary, it is defined as “the phenomenon of a popular destination or sight becoming overrun with tourists in an unsustainable way”.
According to the report published in Dec. 2017 by the World Travel & Tourism Council and McKInsey (Coping with Success, Managing Overcrowding in Tourism Destinations), overcrowding can be associated with a variety of major issues, including alienated local residents, degraded tourist experience, overloaded infrastructure, damage to nature, and threats to culture and heritage.
At the same time, there has been a growing interest or even demand for more responsible and respectful forms of tourism that have net positive effects and impacts on the visited areas and their residents, at environmental, social and societal, cultural levels. This has been called fair travel, responsible tourism, or sustainable tourism.
The concept of sustainable tourism has emerged as an answer to reconcile and harmonize the different and sometimes antagonist dimensions of tourism, namely economic, social and societal, environmental, managerial, etc. Whether it is considered as a human activity or an economic sector, sustainable tourism can be apprehended as an approach of tourism, which seeks to conciliate the needs and experiences of all involved tourism stakeholders, including the visitors, the industry, and the host communities, while optimizing their immediate and future effects on the local economies, societies, cultures, and environments. In the end, sustainable tourism can be defined either as a strategic vision (or visionary strategy), a business model, or a lifestyle.
Overtourism and the cities
About 50% of the world population lives in urban agglomerations and research indicates that the volume of tourism demand for city destinations has increased by approximately 50 % worldwide in the last decade.
Some key destinations, particularly European cities such as Amsterdam, Netherlands, Barcelona, Spain, and Venice, Italy, just to name a few, have been exploring various measures to preserve the quality of life of their citizens without giving up on tourism development, promotion and competitiveness.
The seventh largest city in the world with almost 10 million inhabitants and the third largest metropolis with more than 25.6 million people, Seoul has been actively and efficiently promoted as a top urban destination for leisure and business over the past decades, which resulted in a significant growth of international arrivals.
In 2016, a total 13.45 million foreign visitors were recorded by the Seoul Metropolitan Government. It was planned that the the milestone of 20 million arrivals would be achieved in 2018, boosted by the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. In comparison, Venice’s 63,000 residents receive 30 million visitors a year.
Concurrently, various landmarks in Seoul have suffered from excessive noise, traffic congestion, and littering due to overcrowding, for example Ehwa and Bukchon villages in the central district of Jongno. Due to its well-preserved Korean houses known as hanok, which date back to the Joseon dynasty (1392-1897), Bukchon village has become a key tourist attraction receiving a daily average of 10,000 visitors, 70 per cent of them being foreign tourists. In the 2000s, Bukchon residents had been encouraged to renovate their hanok through government support so that these traditional houses can be promoted as key sightseeing spots and even offer home stays. However, the locals quickly started to feel overwhelmed by the uncontrolled flows of tourists ruining the quality of their lives. According to an academic study released in 2017, the tourism boom in Bukchon contributed to a 14 per cent decrease in the number of residents over the past five years.
This situation prompted Seoul to explore sustainable strategies through developing new tourism experiences and contents, focusing on value over volume through indicators such as the level of spending per visitor, the propensity to consume, and revisit rate, and establishing a series of measures to prevent and control overtourism.
Seoul fair and sustainable solutions
The first Seoul International Fair & Sustainable Tourism (SIFT) Forum was organized in 2016 to discuss topics related to sustainable tourism and community-based tourism in megacities, including the case of Bukchon. It was also an opportunity to reaffirm that “fair and sustainable tourism is the one respecting residents, not just visitors, and preserving environment of the tourist destinations”.
Hosted annually by the Seoul Metropolitan Government in collaboration with UNWTO, and organized by the Seoul Tourism Organization, the SIFT Forum has gathered global and local experts and policy-makers, representatives of tourism business, and academia members to advance strategies and practical solutions to address the needs of the local communities as well as the visitors.
The Seoul International Fair & Sustainable Tourism Forum 2018 took place on 18 September, 2018, in conjunction with the 7th UNWTO Global Summit on Urban Tourism in Seoul. It started with the Session 4 of the UNWTO Global Summit titled “Fair and Inclusive Tourism: Building Cities for All”.
The Session was attended by hundreds of high-level representatives from National Tourism Administrations, city authorities and related tourism stakeholders, and offered a venue to share policy strategies and action plans to handle overtourism and to promote harmonious relationships between all stakeholders / co-creators of the tourist experiences, including travelers, host communities, tour operators, etc. Five panelists representing the cities of Amsterdam, Barcelona, Cape Town, Venice, and Seoul tourism organizations provided their insights on how to adopt a local approach to economic and social development in urban destinations by integrating the local community and its component along the tourism value chain.
Before the session, UNWTO launched its report “Overtourism? Understanding and managing urban tourism growth beyond perceptions”.
The SIFT 2018 continued in the afternoon with a special Session on Fair & Sustainable Tourism under the theme “Over tourism to Fair tourism: Tourism for Life, Sustainable City”, with three separate group discussions: 1. Transforming tourism: Overtourism to Fair tourism; 2. Transforming tourism: Sustainable tourism to Sustainable life, and 3. Transforming tourism: Promotion to Management. For one hour, foreign, regional and local participants discussed and proposed actions to deal with overtourism, to be implemented by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the tourism departments of 25 local autonomous regions.
In the afternoon, participants of the Forum enjoyed a Seoul Fair & Sustainable Tourism Village Tour during which they were offered seven fair and sustainable tourism experiences, designed as an alternative to disperse tourists from more popular spots in Seoul.
One of the major outcomes of the SIFT 2018 was the signature of MoUs between the Seoul Metropolitan Government and Venice Municipality Council, and between the Seoul Tourism Organization and Amsterdam Marketing for the joint development and promotion of fair and sustainable tourism.
Additionally, Seoul has organized a “Fair Tourism Week” on September 17 to 30, providing a variety of fair tourism experiences to tourists visiting Seoul, and opportunities to exchange with local experts, professionals, academia members, and policy-makers. Within this framework, special tours have been proposed in various neighborhoods of Seoul, in order to highlight local experiences and products.
Promoting Compassionate and Responsible Travel Behaviors
As a result of the two first SIFT Forums, the Seoul Metropolitan Government and Jongno District in Northern Seoul announced a set of eight measures in August 2018, aimed at promoting fair and sustainable tourism in Bukchon Hanok Area through a better management of the flows of tourists:
With a focus on urban tourism, this global campaign was launched in 2017 during the second SIFT Forum under the theme “Urban Tourism: Fair and Sustainable City Agenda" as an initiative designed and promoted by the Seoul Tourism Organization (STO), the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), and Barcelona City Council in Spain, in collaboration with the World Tourism Organization’s #travelenjoyrespect campaign, within the framework of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development designated by the United Nations.
Now in its second year, the global campaign is seeking to achieve the following objectives:
The proposed actions are:
the French cities of Paris and Marseille, the European Network for Accessible Tourism - ENAT, the Global Alternative Tourism Network, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, the International Center for Responsible Tourism, The Japanese Ecotourism Society, Kabani Community Tourism Service, Le Cordon Bleu University in Lima, Peru, Millennium Destinations, One Planet Sustainable Tourism Program, Peace Boat, the Positive Business Chair of Paris Nanterre University, socialtours, the Thai Community based Tourism Institute, UN-Habitat / Urban Resilience Hub, and the World Association for Hospitality and Tourism Education and Training - AMFORHT.
Good planning and management have been identified as key factors of success not only for sustainable tourism development, but also for overcoming the challenges of overcrowding / overtourism.
Based on its experience and the lessons learnt throughout its modern history, Seoul has proven its willingness and capacity to become a model of smart, sustainable, resilient and hospitable city.
Each destination is unique and should have its own personal agenda, but all tourism stakeholders, including administrations, governments, local authorities, policy-makers and regulators, destinations managers and promoters, private businesses and associations, NGOs, Academia, local communities and tourists, should continuously engage and join forces, so that the sector can grow in a responsible way, towards peace, global prosperity, social inclusiveness and environmental sustainability.
Special Exhibition “Tourism For All"
Hosted by Seoul Metropolitan Government and organized by the Seoul Tourism Organization
Dates: September 17 to 29, 2018
Venue: Bukchon Village Information Center, Seoul
Presentation of the Fair Travel Living Together campaign and the seven proposals for fair travel, and examples of harmonious coexistence between Bukchon residents and visitors.
Also read "The Challenge of Overtourism" by Harold Goodwin
Millennium Destinations is proud to announce its official partnership with the Seoul Tourism Organization (STO) for the implementation and promotion of the 2018 Global Campaign "Fair Travel Living Together" aimed at raising worldwide public awareness of fair and sustainable tourism.
The first edition of the global campaign was launched last year at the Seoul International Fair & Sustainable Tourism Forum, as an initiative of the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, designed and promoted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, STO, and Barcelona City Council, in collaboration with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)'s #travelenjoyrespect campaign.
This year, new key partners have joined the founding members, including (as of 25 August 2018): the European Network for Accessible Tourism - ENAT, the Global Alternative Tourism Network, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, the International Center for Responsible Tourism, Kabani Community Tourism Service, Le Cordon Bleu University in Lima, Peru, Millennium Destinations, socialtours, the Thai Community based Tourism Institute, UN-Habitat / Urban Resilience Hub, and the World Association for Hospitality and Tourism Education and Training - AMFORHT. More partners are in the process of joining and will be announced shortly.
The 2018 Global Campaign “Fair Travel Living Together" Global Campaign will be implemented through December, with the following objectives:
Co-organized by UNWTO and the Seoul Metropolitan Government, and supported by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea, the Korea Tourism Organization and STO, this Global Summit will bring together hundreds of high-level representatives from National Tourism Administrations, city authorities and related stakeholders.
Check the program of the Summit here
On 18 September, 2018, the Summit will include a session on “Fair and Inclusive Tourism: Building cities for all”, in conjunction with the 3rd annual “Seoul International Fair and Sustainable Tourism Forum”, during which the Global Campaign “Fair Travel Living Together" and its partners will be announced. The "Fair Travel Living Together" Campaign and its partners will also be introduced on a booth during the Global Summit.
Millennium Destinations has been designated by STO to manage the promotion of the 2018 Global Campaign "Fair Travel Living Together" at international level, and coordinate partnerships with destinations and global organizations.
To join as partner, contact us here
Download the brochure of the campaign EN - FR
The first GSTC Sustainable Tourism Training session in Seoul was co-organized by PlayForest and Millennium Destinations, and took place on June 30 and July 1, 2018 at the training center of the Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism.
The two GSTC co-trainers, Dr. Mihee KANG, GSTC GSTC Director for Asia-Pacific and Chairperson of PlayForest, and Catherine GERMIER-HAMEL, Founder & CEO of Millennium Destinations, introduced sustainable tourism rationale and principles, GSTC and its different programmes, as well as the whole sets of GSTC criteria for the tourism businesses and for destinations.
Catherine GERMIER-HAMEL took this opportunity to introduce her own definition of sustainable as "An approach of tourism (whether it is considered as a human activity or an economic sector) which seeks to conciliate the needs and experiences of all involved tourism stakeholders, including the visitors, the industry, and the host communities, while optimizing their immediate and future effects – direct, indirect, and induced - on the local economies, societies, cultures, and environments. In the end, sustainable tourism may be defined as 'a strategic vision (or visionary strategy), a business model, and a lifestyle'".
The audience included professionals from various backgrounds and industries, such as representatives of certification bodies, academia, travel agencies, tourism startups, etc.
Three guest speakers shared their experiences, practices and insights on sustainable tourism, including Mr. SUK Hwangbo, General Manager of Ibis Budget in Seoul (Accor Ambassador) in charge of the Accor's Planet21 Program in Korea, Mr. NA Hyowoo, CEO of Good Travel, and Mr. KIM Yong Tae, Assistant manager at the Marketing Team of the Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism.
More informatioon about GSTC Training Programme here.
On 19-22 June 2018, Green Destinations implemented a Sustainable Destinations Training Course under the theme "Tourism for Peace and Prosperity" in connection to the 3rd International Water Safety Symposium in Incheon, Korea.
Catherine GERMIER-HAMEL, Founder & CEO of Millennium Destinations, partner of Green Destinations for France and French overseas territories, attended the training course together with 20 tourism professionals from the public and private sectors in various Asian countries
The course was organized in cooperation with Asian Ecotourism Network, Sustainable Travel Taiwan, the Foundation for Environmental Education Korea, and PlayForest.
The course was presented by an international team of five trainers, with strong expertise in destination sustainability:
The contents of the course included:
On July 5, 2018, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) announced that Green Destinations had achieved the ‘GSTC-Accredited’ status. The awarded status affirms Green Destinations’ commitment to promoting sustainable destinations.
Read GSTC's release here.
About Green Destinations
Green Destinations has developed a GSTC-Recognised destination standard and a GSTC-Accredited certification scheme. Green Destinations works with 250 destinations in various programs and in partnership with National Tourism Board Slovenia, QualityCoast, the Sustainable Top 100, and ITB Top 100 Awards, a.o.
In all its work, Green Destinations support places, regions and countries in adopting its so-called G.R.E.E.N. values:
On June 16, 2018, the French-Korean expert group "Ensemble" organized its first Eco-Quartier Seminar in Suwon city, Korea.
Titled "Urban Agriculture and Carbon Negative", this seminar inaugurated a series of monthly mini-conferences in Suwon under the theme "Future cities and ecology", with a variety of topics such as eco-design and architecture, sustainable & smart urban tourism & hospitality, citizen sciences, biophilic cities etc.
The members of "Ensemble" ("together" in English) are: Catherine GERMIER-HAMEL, Founder & CEO of Millennium Destinations, Hortense SERRET, Doctor in Ecology and Post-doctoral Researcher at Ewha Womans' University in Seoul, KIM Tae-Hyun, Founder & CEO of In Vitro Plant, specialist in Urban Agriculture, and KIM Seong-hun, Eco-Architect, Co-Director of Geeum Plus.
The 2018 Korea World Travel Fair - KOTFA - took place in Seoul in June 14 to 17.
At the initiative of Michalis TOANOGLOU, Head of Department of Global Hotel Management Department of Woosong University, Catherine GERMIER-HAMEL, Founder & CEO had a meeting with members of the Greek delegation to discuss future collaboration for the promotion of Greece to the Korean tourism market.
The delegation was led by Mr. Michael MICHAILIDIS, Head of the Market Research Department at the Greek National Tourism Organization, Ministry of Tourism.
Don't miss a chance to discover and master the global reference standards for sustainable tourism!
What: 2-day sustainable tourism training by the GSTC trainers in Korea
When: June 30 – July 1, 2018
Where: Templestay Center (3F), 56, Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Dr. Mihee Kang, GSTC Program Director for Asia-Pacific
Ms.Catherine Germier-Hamel, GSTC Trainer, Millennium Destinations Founder & CEO
Fees: Regular: KRW 220,000 VAT included (discount available for GSTC members and groups of minimum 5)
Registration: fill the registration form or contact the trainers at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
This 2-day training class is offered in partnership with Millennium Destinations and PlayForest Cooperative.
If you have any inquiries, contact the trainers at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
On April 4, 2018, Catherine GERMIER-HAMEL, Founder & CEO of Millennium Destinations had a meeting with Sophia PARK, Senior Manager at the Glocal Empowerment Department of the Governors Association of Korea (GAOK).
Together, they evoked twinning projects and agreements between French and Korean local authorities, and how sustainable tourism development could add value and bring benefits to local communities within this framework.
As of today, 13 twinning / sister cities agreements have been signed between French and Korean cities and regions/provinces: Rouen (Normandy) and Jeju cities (2004), Nice (Côte d'Azur) and Daejeon Cities (2005), Limoges and Ichon Cities (2015), Aquitaine Region and North Gyeongsang Province (2011), Alsace Region and North Gyeongsang Province (1999), Megeve Commune (Auvergne- Rhône-Alpes) and Taebaek City (Gangwon Province) (2008), Evian Commune (Auvergne- Rhône-Alpes) and Muju County (North Jeolla Province) (2010), Ile-de-France Region and Gyeonggi Province (2016), Versailles (Ile-de-France) and Gyeongju (North Gyeongsang Province) Cities (1987), Issy-lès-Moulineaux City (Ile-de-France) and Guro district (Seoul Metropolitan City) (2005), Paris and Seoul Metropolitan Cities (1991), Nantes (Pays de la Loire) and Suncheon (South Jeolla Province) Cities (2009), and Sanary-sur-Mer City (Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur) and Hongcheon County (Gangwon Province) (1986).
GAOK was established in 1999 to contribute to the balanced development of regions nation-wide as well as foster healthy local autonomy through promotion of mutual exchange and cooperation among metropolitan cities and provinces, discussion on matters of common interest and support on local government international affairs.