London, UK – At its Board of Directors meeting on 5 September, the ISEAL Alliance (International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling Alliance) officially accepted the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) as its newest member. The organization joins Bonsucro, Alliance for Water Stewardship and GoodWeave as ISEAL associate members that are committed to demonstrating full compliance with ISEAL’s Codes of Good Practice within a set timeframe.
“GSTC adds to ISEAL’s diverse membership base and the growing community of organizations working to scale up the use of credible sustainability standards globally,” said Patrick Mallet, ISEAL’s Credibility Director. With 16 members active in sectors as diverse as agriculture, forestry, biofuels, water and now tourism, ISEAL is the hub of sustainability standards aiming to transform production practices and global supply chains.
Sustainable tourism is the fastest growing area of the tourism industry, which globally represents 10% of GDP and employs roughly 225 million people. As people have become more aware of the impact of their travel choices, thousands of hotels, tour operators and destinations have emerged to meet the demand for sustainable options. While a number of standards and certification programs have been developed to distinguish these top performers, a global consensus on what constitutes best practice for sustainable tourism has been needed. GSTC provides clarity and credibility to this emerging landscape.
Representing a diverse membership that includes UN agencies, leading travel companies and country tourism boards, GSTC serves as the international body for promoting the increased knowledge and adoption of sustainable tourism practices. At the heart of this work are the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, the minimum requirements that any tourism business should aspire to reach in order to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources while ensuring tourism meets its potential as a tool for conservation and poverty alleviation. GSTC recognizes and accredits standards and programs that align with these criteria.
To qualify for associate membership, GSTC had to demonstrate that its objectives and practices align with ISEAL’s vision for a more just and sustainable world. The organization also had to meet entry-level criteria showing that its systems are strong enough to eventually come into full compliance with ISEAL’s Codes of Good Practice, the global references for best practice in setting and implementing sustainability standards.
By meeting the requirements of the Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards within one year, GSTC will join Rainforest Alliance, UTZ Certified, Marine Stewardship Council, Responsible Jewellery Council and other leading standards as a full ISEAL member.