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Leading Travel Companies Commit To Sustainable Tourism Through the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria

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Assistant Editor’s Note: We asked Erika Harms, the Executive Director of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, to answer a few questions for us – those answers are below, above the recent GSTC press release.

Erika Harms

What role do you see the ATTA and its members should / might want to play in support for the GSTC? (In the context of what you have in mind for the growing adventure tourism community especially).

The adventure tourism community is a natural stakeholder for the goals of the GSTC.  Sustainable Tourism, including not only environmental conservation, but cultural and socio economic benefits for local communities is at the heart of adventure travel.  Promoting clear principles that define sustainable tourism clearly differentiates between green washers and the real deal.  ATTA has the ability, but promoting the GSTC criteria and enabling access to its members to its implementation, can help those that are truly seeking sustainability make a difference.   ATTA members can implement the GSTC criteria to help guide them in achivieng their sustainability goals. GSTC can help ATTA and its members be recognized as global leaders for their efforts.

What reception have you received from the ATTA as well as its’ members as the GSTC moved into the trade limelight?

ATTA set the bar very high amongst GSTC members.  With Shannon Stowell’s active participation as a Board member,  through the promotion of the GSTC criteria in workshops at the 2010 ATTA congress, through joint webinars and communications.  Many of ATTA members have joined GSTC, some becoming active voices in promoting sustainability in their regions.

We are excited about the partnership with ATTA and feel we are only scratching the surface on what we can jointly accomplish.

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council announces the first GSTC-Recognized Standards

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) announces that Amadeus, Melia, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, Sabre Holdings and TUI Travel are among the first group of global Travel and Tourism corporations to publicly commit to promoting sustainable tourism products and services recognized by the GSTC. Each of these companies has committed to using the GSTC Criteria – the first and only global framework for defining a sustainable travel benchmark – as the reference for sustainable travel.

The objective of the program is to recognize and reward genuine practitioners of sustainable tourism, which in turn builds confidence and credibility with consumers. The commitment from these organizations demonstrates their belief that sustainable tourism is an important component of their business practice and that the widespread adoption of sustainable tourism standards is relevant.

“Amadeus, Melia, Sabre, Royal Caribbean and TUI Travel have shown remarkable leadership in making this public commitment to sustainable travel. Their pledge supports the development of consumer confidence and a credible marketplace for sustainable travel and tourism,” said former U.S. Senator Timothy E. Wirth, president of the U.N. Foundation.

Today the GSTC also announces the first GSTC-Recognized standards:

·         Bundesministerium für Land – und Forstwirtschaft, Umwelt und Wasserwirtschaft (BMLFUW)‘s Austrian Ecolabel for Tourism (Österreichisches Umweltzeichen)

·         Costa Rica Tourist Board (ICT)’s Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST)

·         Ecotourism Australia’s Ecotourism Standard

·         Ecotourism Australia’s Advanced Ecotourism Standard

·        Ecotourism Ireland’s Ecotourism Ireland Label

·         European Ecotourism Knowledge Network’s European Ecotourism Labelling 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)

Each standard went through a rigorous review and authorization procedure and 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.

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. Stage 1 recognizes that a standard, which is a written statement that can be verified, is compatible with the GSTC Criteria. 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. The third and final stage is full accreditation (GSTC-Accredited) and will begin implementation in December of 2014. To learn more about the GSTC Process please visit the GSTC website

“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. Sabre and Travelocity’s Green Hotel program help people easily pick certified “sustainable” hotels from a full list of hotel offerings, and we’ll continue to expand our programs to offer more sustainable travel options and additional tools to measure and report on travel impact. Tomorrow’s travellers expect this, and we need to be ready to offer them this choice,” said Leilani Latimer, Director, Sustainability Initiatives, Sabre Holdings and GSTC Board Member.

The GSTC Council congratulates these first standards for achieving GSTC-Recognized status. The GSTC will continue to work with standard owners around the world to provide GSTC recognition. An initial call for standard applications was successful, with almost 30 standards applying for recognition, GSTC hopes to soon announce the next recognized standards. All standards are encouraged to apply for GSTC-Recognized status and all certification programs to apply for Approval. For more information click here.

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