The United Nations Foundation sponsored Global Sustainable Tourism Council has recognized ten organizations for their public commitment to using GSTC Criteria to set up specific standards. The standards adopted by the ten organizations are consistent with GSTC Criteria, the first and only global framework for defining sustainable travel benchmarks in a sustainable travel standards structure.
Empowering sustainable travel
The Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s motto is “Travel Forever,” and it is a global initiative dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism practices around the world. Its membership is international and includes UN agencies, country tourism boards, leading travel companies and tour operators, and hotels.
Support of genuine practitioners
The objective of the program is to recognize and reward genuine practitioners of sustainable tourism, which in turn builds confidence and credibility with consumers. Commitment from these organizations demonstrates sustainable tourism is an important component of their business practice.
THE GSTC believes the widespread adoption of sustainable tourism standards is critical. The Criteria is a keystone set of voluntary principles that provide a framework for the sustainability of tourism businesses across the globe. For more information click here.
Each of the recognized organizations has adopted the GSTC criteria in a demonstration of both leadership and public commitment. Former US Senator Timothy E. Wirth, president of the UN Foundation, indicated such a pledge “supports the development of consumer confidence and a credible marketplace for sustainable travel and tourism.”
Ten organizations with adopted GSTC-recognized standards
In the ongoing process of building rigorous frameworks and achievements in sustainable tourism, the GSTC Council congratulates the first, ten standards that have achieved GSTC-Recognized status and pledges to continue its work with standard owners around the world.
The initial, successful call for standard applications drew almost 30 standards applying for recognition. As part of its continual involvement in building excellence in sustainable tourism, GSTC hopes to announce soon the next recognized standards.
The first establishment of Global Sustainable Tourism Council-recognized standards are within the following list of ten organizations:
- Austrian Ecolabel for Tourism (Bundesministerium für Land – und Forstwirtschaft, Umwelt und Wasserwirtschaft, Österreichisches Umweltzeichen)
- Costa Rica Tourist Board (ICT)’s Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST)
- Ecotourism Australia’s Ecotourism Standard and Ecotourism Australia’s Advanced Ecotourism Standard
- Ecotourism Ireland’s Ecotourism Ireland Label
- European Ecotourism Knowledge Network’s European Ecotourism Labeling Standard (EETLS)
- Fair Trade in Tourism for South Africa (FTTSA)
- Instituto de Turismo Responsable’s Biosphere Hotels
- Japan Ecolodge Association’s Environmentally sustainable accommodations standard
- Rainforest Alliance’s Standard for Tourism Operations
- Sustainable Travel International’s Sustainable Tourism Eco-Certification Program (STEP)
Review and authorization process
The standards of the ten organizations went through a rigorous review and authorization procedure. Their adopted standards are considered equivalent to the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria. The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria are the worldwide minimum requirements for tourism businesses of all size to approach sustainability.
Milestone of a 3-stage GSTC Process
This marks a significant milestone in the development of credible sustainable travel and tourism products. The GSTC-Recognized standards are the cornerstone and first step of a 3-stage GSTC Process.
- STANDARD RECOGNITION
Stage 1 recognizes that a standard, which is a written statement that can be verified, is compatible with the GSTC Criteria.
- GSTC Approval of a certification program
Stage 2 is the evaluation of the processes for certification to ensure they are transparent, impartial and conducted by people with technical competence. The 2nd stage is called GSTC Approval of a certification program that uses a GSTC-recognized standard.
- Full GSTC Accreditation
The third and final stage is full accreditation (GSTC-Accredited) and will begin implementation in December of 2014.
Supporting the future
Leilani Latimer, Director, Sustainability Initiatives, Sabre Holdings and GSTC Board Member, indicates, “Travelers and agencies need simple tools to find and purchase sustainable travel offerings. The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria helps by harmonizing the numerous global certification programs in the marketplace to provide travelers with clear and trustworthy sustainable travel choices. Tomorrow’s travelers expect this, and we need to be ready to offer them this choice.”
Empowering the future
Responsible travel and sustainable tourism provide protection for global cultures and environments. American naturalist, John Muir, wrote in 1915, “When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands . . . the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.” Only through an awareness of responsible interactions with the world can man empower true infinity.
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