A Common Heritage
The Right to Starlight

International Initiative in Defence of the Quality of the Night Sky as Mankind’s Scientific, Cultural and Environmental Right

 Starlight Reserve


The StarLight Tourism
Certification System

A New Vision: Science and Tourism under the Stars


UN-WTO, Madrid , 23 December 2009.

The StarLight Tourism Certification System (Starlight Certification) was presented in a Press Conference held at UNWTO (World Tourism Organization) Headquarters in Madrid. It aims to bring closer two key components of contemporary society: Science and Tourism.

On the one hand, in this recently opened post-Copenhagen era, it has become suddenly obvious that scientific facts per se will not mobilize political institutions. The outreach of science, its penetration of institutions and civil society have been shown essential. On the other hand, tourism appears both as a victim and a vector of climate change. Irresponsible tourism will contribute more and more to CO2 emissions; in the end a negative backlash could affect tourism activities as whole. But tourism can be an excellent vehicle for new ideas and responsible social behaviour. The right coupage of science and tourism could contribute to the global acceptance of the “new ways”, the “green economy” and the “global sustainable village”. In this framework, the StarLight Certification sets a model for the use of Science both as a resource for tourism and an essential part of sustainable tourism practices. The StarLight Certification indicates that a tourism destination complies with a voluntary standard involving the preservation of nightscapes, including the night sky and the nocturnal bio-systems. Of course it is also concerned with energy conservation and with the use of natural and cultural resources at night time. It is a quality pre-condition for scientific activities in the certified destinations (especially Astronomy): in some cases for professional practitioners, but also importantly, for amateur scientists and students, and for the sensitization of important segments of the general public. Some world-class destinations --in New Zealand, the Pacific, South America and Europe most notably—have already started to develop astronomy and nightscape-based tourism products and attractors. The task is now to set the criteria and the resulting standards for the optimization of this science-tourism experiences. This is the raison-d’être of the StarLight Certification. It aims to ensure the quality of tourism experiences involving the nightscapes, the view of stars and the cosmos and the related scientific, cultural and environmental knowledge. This gives tourism a new dimension, aiming to foster its potential to create, disseminate and internalize knowledge and, especially, the very precious scientific knowledge necessary to guide as all in these times of urgent changes.

The StarLight Certification thus evaluates excellence in tourism management processes ensuring customer satisfaction, long-term sustainability and competitiveness and value for the communities, professionals and workers involved, along with night-sky quality and strategies aimed at providing high-ranking scientific knowledge experiences for the visitors and tourists.

Tourism governance organizations world-wide with adequate nightscape characteristics and wishing to obtain more information on the StarLight Certification, should address their messages of interest at

Starlight UN-WTO Madrid

The presentation of the StarLight Certification was carried out by Dr. Francisco Sánchez, Director of the Astrophysics Institute of the Canary Islands Eduardo Fayos-Solà, Executive Secretary of the Education and Science Council, UNWTO-World Tourism Organization,
Cipriano Marín, Coordinator of the StarLight Initiative and Antonio Gallardo, Director of the Fuerteventura Unesco Biosphere Reserve.





Cover Starlight Certification

Starlight Tourism Certification
The song of the silence under stardome

The Starlight Tourism Certification System was created with the aim of encouraging, at world-wide level, the improvement of the quality of tourist experiences and the protection of the night skies in Starlight Destinations. Starlight Destinations are visitable places characterised by excellent quality for the contemplation of starry skies and the practice of tourist activities based on this resource.
Brochure - Guidelines Starlight Certification
Versión en castellano Certificaci�n Starlight

Starlight Reserve Concept


Developed by Starlight Initiative (IAC) in cooperation with UNESCO-World Heritage Centre (Initiative Astronomy and World Heritage), IAU (International Astronomical Union) and the support of MaB (MaB Urban Ecology Programme of UNESCO), CIE (International Commission on Illumination), OTPC-IAC (Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias) and UNWTO (World Tourism Organization).
Document (2.8 MB) Starlight Declaration

Final Report Fuerteventura
Starlight Reserves and World Heritage

"The expert meeting recognized that tourism would be an excellent opportunity to promote the Starlight Initiative. The meeting recommended that a framework towards starlight certification devising voluntary standards be prepared including scientific inputs, inputs from the tourism industry and from destinations. UNWTO and UNESCO would provide the institutional support for the operation of such a scientific and tourism quality system".
Report (1 MB) Starlight Declaration
Hulugh Beg

Astronomy and World Heritage
Working Group

This website contains information about UNESCO’s Astronomy and World Heritage Initiative and the activities of the IAU’s Working Group on Astronomy and World Heritage. The Working Group is collaborating with The Starlight Initiative to help preserve the natural heritage of the dark night sky.
More information ...>

IUCN - WCPA Task Force

IUCN's first step toward preserving natural darkness
Dark Skies Advisory Group

This advisory group was set up in early 2009 within the Task Force on Cities and Protected Areas of IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA). It is chaired by David Welch, an ecosystem management and protected areas consultant based in Ottawa, Canada.
More Information - Statment ...>

World Heritage

World Heritage Review
World Heritage and Astronomy

The latest issue of UNESCO's World Heritage Review has been released, with astronomy and world heritage as its theme. The publication includes a chapter "Starlight Reserves and World Heritage: Scientific, cultural and environmental values"
More Information ....>

Cover Starlight
A Common Heritage

International Conference in Defence of the Quality of the Night Sky and the Right to Observe the Stars.
Publication Starlight Declaration