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Global Sustainable Tourism Council Announces Two New Initiatives: GSTC Process Recognizing & Rewarding Practitioners of Sustainable Tourism & Destination Level Criteria Development

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Washington, D.C.  – The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC Council) announced the launch of two initiatives this week that reflect the organization’s efforts of the past two years: The GSTC Process and Destination Level Criteria Development.

The GSTC Process for recognizing and rewarding genuine practitioners of sustainable tourism is defined in three stages: GSTC-Recognized, GSTC-Approved and GSTC-Accredited. In the initial stage, sustainable tourism standards apply to become GSTC-Recognized. Once recognized, these 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.

In stage 2, certification programs apply to become GSTC-Approved to ensure that they meet GSTC requirements for processes and procedures. To apply, certification programs must use a GSTC-Recognized standard (Stage 1), pass a desk-audit by the GSTC technical team and receive final authorization from the GSTC Accreditation Panel. The final stage (Stage 3) is full GSTC Accreditation. GSTC-Accredited status is the most stringent and rigorous of the three stages.

Certification programs that achieve GSTC-Approved status can use the GSTC-Approved seal as well as offer pass-through rights to their certified businesses. For more information on the three stages of the GSTC Process please visit the website:

“The three-stage GSTC Process is the result of hundreds of hours of work by travel, tourism, certification and accreditation experts from around the globe. The process is designed to have a harmonizing effect on the world of sustainable travel and tourism certification programs with the aim of building credibility and confidence among consumers,” explained Amos Bien, Technical Director, Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

The GSTC Council has also announced the creation of destination level baseline sustainable tourism criteria and indicators to enable good destination stewardship by the travel and tourism industry. The Destination Level GSTC Criteria (DL – GSTC Criteria) will be widely available for adoption in early 2012. To accelerate the development process, the GSTC will launch the first of two, 60-day public comment periods in parallel with the Early Adopters program. Destinations committed to sustainability are invited to submit an application to become an Early Adopter by November 23, 2011 and selected destinations will be notified by December 2, 2011.

The Early Adopters program will provide valuable input into the final version of the DL-GSTC Criteria. The invitation is open to destinations of all types and sizes. Applicants may include governments, public lands agencies (e.g., national parks), tourism bureaus, or other destination management organizations, on behalf of the destination.

The Early Adopters invitation can be accessed through the GSTC website site, or downloaded directly here. The application can be downloaded here.

The Destination Level GSTC Criteria, which complement the existing GSTC Criteria for hotel and tour operators, was developed incorporating the most widely accepted sustainable tourism certification standards for destinations, including UNWTO indicators, Global Reporting Initiative, Blue Flag, Earth Check, Green Globe, National Geographic, and others.  The criteria will enable good destination stewardship by the tourism industry.

“Several months ago we surveyed our membership and other stakeholders to ask what they thought the GSTC Council should focus on. We heard loud and clear that destination level criteria would make the largest positive impact. We are pleased that our GSTC Destinations Working Group was able to deliver such a quality program in record time,” said Erika Harms, Executive Director, Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

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