United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Network of Observatories (INSTO)

The UNWTO has been promoting the use of sustainable tourism indicators since the early 1990s, as essential instruments for policy-making, planning and management processes at destinations.
In 2004, the UNWTO published the UNWTO Guidebook on Indicators of Sustainable Development for Tourism Destinations, which at that time was the most comprehensive resource on this topic, and the result of an extensive study on indicator initiatives worldwide, involving 62 experts from more than 20 countries.

The publication describes over 40 major sustainability issues, ranging from the management of natural resources (waste, water, energy, etc.), to development control, satisfaction of tourists and host communities, preservation of cultural heritage, seasonality, economic leakages, and climate change, to name just a few.

At the same time UNWTO launched the concept of the UNWTO Network of Observatories (INSTO), previously referred to as the Global Observatories on Sustainable Tourism (GOST).
The ultimate goal is to support better-informed sustainable tourism policies around the world, by providing policy makers and tourism managers with a framework for regular gathering, analysis and communication of information related to tourism’s impacts on environmental, social and economic aspects in destinations.

The UNWTO did so in the belief that in the context of sustainable tourism development, indicators are information sets that are formally selected for a regular use to measure changes in assets and issues that are key for the tourism development and management of a given destination.Today the members of the INSTO network include observatories operating in China, France, Indonesia, Mexico, Croatia, the United States and Greece. The Waikato INSTO is the first to be established in New Zealand.

INSTO aims to:

  • Develop and provide methodological references and recommendations for sustainability in tourism
  • Create awareness and support capacity-building in sustainability among tourism stakeholders, while stimulating community participation
  • Analyse and report regularly on policy trends and impacts on tourism
  • Identify and disseminate good practices
  • Facilitate exchange and comparison of information related to tourism sustainability
  • Strengthen institutional capacities for information management and monitoring in support of decision and policy making
  • Facilitate the establishment of a network of observatories, through the systematic application of monitoring, evaluation and information management techniques.