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Traveling Responsibly: GSTC’s Advice for Consumers

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Q: Could you please tell us about GSTC’s recommendations for travelers?

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council is a global initiative with the main objective to promote sustainable tourism efforts around the world.

As such, GSTC advocates for a set of universal principles clearly outlining global, standardized criteria, known as the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, and administers its accreditation of standards and certification. These principles provide a framework for the sustainability of tourism businesses across the globe.

There are three items tourists should consider when traveling to ensure it is a sustainable trip.

1. Look for third party certifications from recognized bodies when booking an accommodation and/or tour operation.

GSTC currently has 15 recognized standards (certification bodies) that tourists should look for when planning their travel that meet the global criteria; meaning they promote the well being of the environment and communities across the world.

GSTC currently has 1 approved standard

  • Biosphere Responsible Tourism

2. Look for destinations that are aligned with GSTC criteria.

GSTC has recognized six destinations that have met its criteria that address environmental and social factors. They include:

  • Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA
  • Mt. Huangshan, China
  • St. Kitts and Nevis, Carribean
  • Fjords, Norway
  • Lanzarote, Spain
  • Okavango Delta, Botswana

GSTC is currently conducting a second review phase for additional destinations.

3. If looking to travel outside the above listed destinations, apply the criteria below to determine if the location is sustainably responsible.

In an effort to come to a common understanding of sustainable destinations, and are the minimum undertakings that any tourism management organization striving for sustainability should aspire to reach.  Travelers can apply the Criteria’s principles when considering their travel choices.

  • Tourism management and climate change strategy – Does the destination show that they care and implement strategies for its local economy, environment (including climate change) and social/cultural factors?
  • Local community benefits and economic opportunity – Does the destination track and report its local economic contributions; provide equal employment and training opportunities and extend opportunities to the most vulnerable populations?

Does the destination engage the local communities for feedback and involvement in decision-making.

  • Visitor and attraction management policies – Does the destination have policies designed to conserve key attractions and landscapes?

Do visitors receive direction so as to not destroy of natural and cultural assets?

Are policies in place to prevent artifacts from being illegally sold, traded or displayed?

Travelers can review the full destination criteria and learn about each recognized standards on our website at

Contributing members are responsible for the accuracy of content contributed to the Member News section of AdventureTravelNews.

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