United. Sustainable. Action.

IITA’s Board of Directors included Sustainability as a priority in its 2030 Blueprint for the Future to urge members to embrace sustainability in their businesses destinations and travel products. Recognizing sustainability touches every part of the travel and tourism experience, the Board adopted the UN World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) definition of sustainable tourism development:

"Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities."

The greatest sustainability challenge for travel and tourism is how to lessen the impact of visitors to destinations and communities and disperse visitors to less traveled destinations, away from the overcrowded areas. Inbound operators contribute to this growing need through effective itinerary planning with their destination and supplier partners. The power of the itinerary can guide visitors to spend less time in iconic destinations and more time in the lesser-known wonders of the USA.


Sustainability includes respect for diverse cultures and heritage and inclusion of under-represented communities. As part of the sustainability initiative, IITA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with  AIANTA  – the American Indian Alaska Native Travel Association – to educate each organization’s members in how to effectively work together.


International travelers want to explore and experience the diverse fabric of the United States, and there's a growing demand for indigenous experiences. Inbound operators need sellable indigenous travel products and services to meet the demand.

The MOU was signed by Lisa Simon, CEO, IITA and Sherry Rupert, CEO, AIANTA during AIANTA's American Indigenous Tourism Conference in Durant, OK. The MOU features cross-education and first-year discounts on membership and conference registration for each other's members. 


Carbon Neutral Summit

IITA's Summit has been carbon neutral since 2013 when IITA partnered with Sustainable Travel International. The Summit education program was themed around sustainability, which led the association to focus on its own carbon footprint. By making the Summit carbon-neutral, IITA is supporting certified climate projects that are reducing emissions around the world.

As part of the partnership, STI  will provide an individualized review of IITA inboundoperator's sustainability profile and operational carbon footprint based on information provided in the tour carbon footprinting tool. Interested inbound operated members can complete their questionnaire.

Additionally, IITA members can sign up for the Guardian Membership  ($500 level) for just $250 with the coupon code: IITAMembers. For more information on the Tour Carbon Footprinting Tool and the Guardian Membership offer, contact STI at carbon@sustainabletravel.org.

Global Standards

IITA supports the Tour Operator Criteria established by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council® (GSTC), created in an effort to come to a common understanding of sustainable tourism, and are the minimum that a Tour Operator (a provider, operator, and/or seller of travel products) business should aspire to reach. The Tour Operator Criteria are organized around four main themes: (A) effective sustainability planning, (B) maximizing social and economic benefits for the local community, (C) enhancing cultural heritage, and (D) reducing negative impacts on the environment.