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Client:Taskforce for Applied Research (SIA), part of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), with funding from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW)
Product:SASTDes - Smart Assessment Sustainable Tourist Destinations. Project duration: 11.2017-10.2021
SASTDes - Smart Assessment Sustainable Tourist Destinations

Factsheet English: factsheet-sastdes-eng-2017.pdf
Factsheet Nederlands: factsheet-sastdes-nl-2017.pdf
Project SASTDes aims to resolve key issues in the sustainability assessment process of tourism destinations, with the objective to reduce the costs of assessments both in time and money, and to use the results of assessments for destination branding and marketing. Core research question: ‘How can sustainability assessments effectively and efficiently contribute to the sustainable development of tourism destinations and tourism products?’

The large growth in tourism not only brings economic progress, but also causes negative effects on destinations and beyond, environmentally, socio-culturally and economically. For instance, tourism contributes 5% of all anthropogenic CO2 emissions worldwide. The tourism industry has responded with a number of sustainable tourism initiatives. A much used method is to subject tourism products to a sustainability assessment, frequently leading to a label. The goal here is to motivate destinations to perform more sustainably and to stimulate consumers to make more sustainable touristic choices. Until now, participation in sustainability assessments in tourism is limited. Hence the effect on consumer choices is also small.

Limitations sustainability assessments
Most assessments suffer from limited participation and interest from tourism businesses. Conducting assessments is too costly for them, also time wise, and the added value is unclear to them. Moreover, the assessments hardly lead to behavior changes among the relatively small group of end users interested in sustainability. Finally there is a problem with the content of the assessments: the impacts from transport to destinations is not accounted for, whereas these are often of great importance when determining the environmental impact of tourism trips.

The consortium is led by the associate professorship ‘Centre for Sustainability, Tourism and Transport’ (CSTT) of NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences. The CSTT has been investigating the external impacts of tourism since 2002. NHTV’s associate professorship ‘Sustainable Business Models’ (SBM) has relevant expertise on attractive revenue models in tourism. ‘Wageningen Environmental Research’ (WENR), part of Wageningen University & Research (WUR), delivers knowledge and expertise on environmental information, GIS and automation. The research group ‘Data Science & ICT’ of the Centre of Expertise for Technological Innovation (ETI) of Avans University of Applied Sciences develops knowledge for the 21st century marketer, e.g. concerning digitalization and sustainability. Green Destinations (GD) is a foundation with a platform for destinations that want to develop more sustainably, through certification. Green Destinations BV is GD’s for-profit branch, specialized in destination data and databases. A number of Dutch destination management organisations (DMOs), the municipalities of Breda, Goeree-Overflakkee and Schouwen-Duiveland combine ambition towards sustainability and tourism  with experience in policymaking. Tourist office and GD-member Zuid-Limburg brings in experience on making destinations more sustainable. Other partners are SeaGoingGreen, a Dutch consultancy helping tourism destinations and businesses with sustainable tourism development. ECEAT, the European Centre for Eco Agro Tourism, is an NGO with a wide network in sustainable tourism. Treinreiswinkel offers unique knowledge on booking and using trains in Europe. TUI Benelux has a wealth of experience with the tourism market, including on sustainability.

Project set-up

RAAK (Regional Attention and Action for Knowledge circulation)
This research is co-funded by the Taskforce for Applied Research (SIA), part of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), under the RAAK scheme. The Taskforce for Applied Research funds and encourages practice-oriented research by universities of applied sciences. For universities of applied sciences this is the basis for a fully-fledged source of indirect government funding for practice-oriented research. Research that will be done in collaboration with industry and the public sector and that is crucial for enabling universities of applied sciences to fulfil their obligation to create and disseminate new knowledge for education and professional practice.