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Portland, OREGON– Sustainable Travel International (STI) is pleased to announce that its STEP eco-certification standard has been officially recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
To achieve this recognition, STEP underwent a rigorous review and authorization procedure. As a result, STEP is now considered equivalent to the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, the worldwide minimum sustainability requirements for tourism businesses of all sizes.
“We’re very excited that STEP is among the first global standards to be recognized by the GSTC,” said Bobby Chappell, STI’s Director of Standards and Certification. “As we continue to build the case for sustainability in the travel and tourism industry, this recognition is further proof that STEP is among the most innovative, engaging, and accessible tools for businesses worldwide.”
STEP is designed to help tourism businesses assess their operations and identify industry best practices, in order to mitigate harmful impacts and emphasize positive returns. The standard takes a holistic approach to sustainability, focused on improving systems and workplace practices. The eco-certification process begins with a self-assessment and builds toward an independently-verified on-site assessment.
The GSTC recognition process will take place in three stages. The recently completed first stage recognizes that STEP is compatible with the GSTC Criteria. Stage 2 will evaluate certification processes to ensure they are transparent, impartial and conducted by people with technical competence. The third and final stage will be full accreditation, and will begin implementation in December of 2014.
“As a global leader in sustainable tourism, we are extremely proud of this recognition and excited for the next stage of the GSTC process,” added STI’s Founder and CEO, Brian Mullis. “We look forward to helping many more businesses around the world protect the cultural and natural heritage of the destinations they serve while contributing to local economic development.”
STEP is the foundation of STI’s Sustainable Tourism Education Program. This program includes a suite of training tools and online sustainability management solutions, in addition to customized standards for the luxury accommodation, marine shore excursion and dive operator sectors. Widely recognized as a gold standard in sustainability, the program is perfect for businesses looking for incremental, measurable progress, rather than an easy checklist of best practices.