The following updated framework for the operation and management of UN Tourism International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories (INSTO) was presented to UN Tourism Executive Council at its 104th session in Luxor, Egypt in November 2016.

The following sections outline the different generic elements of importance within the INSTO framework that member observatories are following.


Participatory approaches are fundamental for successful sustainability initiatives which are continuously strengthened during all phases of development. When establishing an observatory, destinations are asked to put special emphasis on 3 key elements:

Building awareness among local stakeholders

  • To build and strengthen common values and understanding
  • To ensure inclusiveness and transparency
  • Supporting documents: gather and prepare required information material
  • Stocktaking: consider and collect information about what has already been done
  • Differentiation: carefully adjust communication to different needs and perspectives of actors

Establishing and fostering a strong support system of facilitators

  • To build an efficient back-up system of relevant stakeholders (facilitators)
  • To allow for an extended promotion of the initiative, resource mobilization etc.
  • Tipping Points: achieving a critical mass of facilitators is essential to ensure a self-sustaining process
  • Time: a broad system of facilitators is especially important in the beginning of the initiative
  • Resilience: overcome unforeseen and typical barriers of change successfully

Forming and engagement of a local working group

  • To ensure continuous commitment to regular monitoring
  • To establish continuous exchange and a leading body for reviews, discussions and decisions
  • Members: include members of all relevant stakeholder groups (private/public)
  • Exchange: agree on regular communication mechanisms
  • Guidelines: create guiding rules that define the scope of influence of the group


Another vital element for INSTO observatories is the regular stakeholders’ workshops that strengthen the participatory approach even further. Depending on the structures of the new members (if it is an already existing observatory or an entirely new one), the content of the very first annual stakeholder workshop may vary.

Why are annual workshops important?

  • Reflect and agree on the mandatory and optional issue areas
  • Discuss the findings of the preliminary study/report 
  • Identify the most important data needs, gaps and sources
  • Discuss and make a roadmap for creating and agreeing on specific indicators
  • Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders and the frequency of stakeholders meetings
  • Agree on the implementation plan for the observatory


There are 11 core issue areas that INSTO Observatories are required to monitor at least to a certain extend.


INSTO members are committed to

  • Measuring in a regular and timely manner
  • Supporting sustainable tourism development and beyond
  • Following a participatory and transparent approach that reflects the destination’s priorities and needs
  • Contributing to official INSTO events by sharing experiences, methodologies, new trends
  • Better understanding the links of tourism with other sectors and the impacts on sustainable development
  • Establishing measurement efforts in all nine issue areas within the first three years (at least to some extend)
  • Empowering stakeholders to effectively prioritize efforts and allocate resources


Coordinator (RC)

In case there are more than 5 observatories in one region, the Regional Coordinator serves as coordinator and direct contact between UN Tourism and the observatories

Annual Stakeholders’ Workshop

During the annual stakeholders’ workshop, participants discuss all relevant aspects related to the advances in measurement, organizational and structural aspects and much more

Annual Progress

All INSTO Observatories generate and share with UN Tourism an annual report, highlighting their monitoring activities, results and lessons learned


To support the scalability of effective measures and processes at all levels and to therefore accelerate sustainable production patterns, INSTO members also commit to actively share information about their efforts in a transparent manner.

Through a publicly accessible and up-to-date website

Through the collection of success stories

Through actively sharing the lesson’s learned