TourCert Journal

Successful digital launch event of the Excellence Initiative Sustainable Destinations

Hohes Gras im Sonnenuntergang


In order to pull together nationwide and jointly shape the tourism of tomorrow in a sustainable way, the “Excellence Initiative Sustainable Destinations” was formed last year as a network of destinations committed to sustainability. On Wednesday, June 03, 2020, the initiative was officially launched via digital launch with a total of nine founding members.

On Wednesday, June 03, the official founding act of the Excellence Initiative Sustainable Destinations took virtually place under the auspices of TourCert. The establishment of the initiative is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) as part of its program to improve performance and promote innovation in tourism (LIFT). Partners are the Saarland Tourist Board and the Tourism Company Northern Black Forest, which are certified as sustainable destinations and implement sustainability issues in an exemplary manner. The aim of the LIFT project is to establish a partnership network of destinations with a special focus on sustainable tourism in Germany. The aim is to create a platform that enables its members to network with each other and exchange experiences. In addition, the network is to support the partners’ competence development by establishing a knowledge pool and enabling them to evaluate their own sustainability performance based on key figures. This will strengthen the destinations in the field of sustainability and enable them to act together in a publicity-effective way.

The originally planned founding event of the initiative within the framework of an expert forum in April 2020 could not be realized due to corona-related restrictions for face-to-face events.

Logo of the Excellence Initiative Sustainable Travel Destinations
The Excellence Initiative Sustainable Destinations has now been launched digitally following a Corona-related postponement of the founding event.

During the one-hour online event, Martin Balàš, partner and senior consultant of TourCert gGmbH and representative of the initiative, first gave general information about the Excellence Initiative Sustainable Destinations. Among other things, he introduced the goals, activities and the procedure for joining the initiative.

This was followed by speeches from network participants, founding members and other players in the German tourism industry. In addition to Tim Nieländer from the Federal Competence Center for Tourism, who explained the funding framework of the Excellence Initiative in the LIFT program, Birgit Grauvogel from the Saarland Tourist Board and René Skiba from the Tourism Company Northern Black Forest also spoke about their motivation behind the network participation and the partnership. Also Imke Gessinger from the Ostseefjord Schlei GmbH as well as Uta Holz, who spoke for the entire vacation region German Wine Route, reported on behalf of other founding members about their motivation behind the participation in the Excellence Initiative. It quickly became clear that it is above all the possibility of exchanging ideas and best practices for improving the quality of tourist offers that motivates people to join the initiative.

Hiking signpost in front of Black Forest landscape
How can sustainable tourism offers be created in the destinations? The members of the Excellence Initiative want to exchange ideas on this.

Beside the already mentioned tourism representatives also Dirk Dunkelberg of the German Tourism Association (DTV) and Olaf Schlieper from the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) as representatives on federal level made short statements. Among other things, Dirk Dunkelberg discussed the DTV’s intended associate membership in the Excellence Initiative. Olaf Schlieper also emphasised the GNTB’s motivation to enter into close cooperation with the initiative. Both placed the initiative in the context of the current debate on the growing importance of sustainability in German tourism.

In the further course of the founding meeting Martin Balàš congratulated all nine founding members and pointed out that other organizations were already close to joining. In the end, the initial goal of forming the initiative with at least five members was not only achieved, but far exceeded. The founding members include Winterberg Touristik und Wirtschaft GmbH, Nordeifel Tourismus GmbH, Saarpfalz-Touristik, the vacation region German Wine Route, Ostseefjord Schlei GmbH, Tourismusverband Sächsische Schweiz e.V., Kur- und Bäder GmbH Bad Dürrheim as well as the two project partners Tourismus GmbH Nördlicher Schwarzwald and Tourismus Zentrale Saarland GmbH. The current list of members can be found on the project page.

The Saar Loop in sunshine
The member destinations of the Excellence Initiative Sustainable Destinations attract numerous visitors every year. The Saarland also has a lot to offer: the Saarschleife is one of the region’s best-known tourist attractions.

To the conclusion and view Balàš indicated, on which actions the members of the initiative may look forward in the coming months. In addition to further web seminars until autumn 2020 and the first online-based best practice exchange, these include an initially planned first network meeting in autumn 2020 as well as the implementation of first special services and training courses until the end of 2020. Furthermore, the implementation of the “Expert Forum on Sustainability in Tourism” organized by TourCert and the DTV from 28 to 29 September 2020, to which the Excellence Initiative Sustainable Destinations will contribute, is still planned. In a few days, online exchange will also be possible via the exchange platform of the Excellence Initiative. This platform already contains some information about “Tourism and the Corona Crisis”.

The office of the Excellence Initiative Sustainable Destinations is very pleased about the big step towards promoting sustainability in German tourism and is looking forward to the cooperation and exchange of good examples among the member destinations.

Unfortunately, you have missed the digital launch or would like to view it again? Click here for the recording (in German):

Corona, Corona, digital start