Global Standards for
Travel & Tourism
March 12th, 2014
Cruise Shipping Miami
American Society of Travel Agents
What Is the GSTC?
Global Sustainable Tourism Council
It is the leading global authority in setting
standards for what can be called
“sustainable” in travel & tourism
“Sustainable tourism is a level of tourism
activity that can be maintained over the long-
term because it results in a net benefit for the
socio-cultural, economic and natural
environments of the area in which it takes
What Is ”Sustainable Tourism”
Sustainable Tourism Joins Together Green with
GSTC Criteria are divided
into four categories:
• Cultural impacts
• Environmental impacts
• Expand the understanding of and access to
sustainable tourism practices.
• Identify and generate markets for sustainable
tourism, as well as provides sustainability education
• Advocate for a set of universal principles clearly
outlining a global, standardized criteria, known as
the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, and
administers its accreditation of standards and
GSTC’s Primary Objectives
– UNWTO, UNEP, UN Foundation
– IUCN, Rainforest Alliance, Conservation
– TUI Travel, Expedia, Travelocity, Sabre,
Fairmont, Marriott, Royal Caribbean
– PATA, ATTA, ASTA, ANVR
– Travelife, Travel Weekly
Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)
• The assortment of labels has made sustainability difficult to
identify and define. We often see it referred to as green
tourism, ecotourism, responsible tourism, and a variety of
• There is confusion in the marketplace and a lack of clarity
as to what sustainable tourism entails.
• Hundreds of organizations are doing the right thing, but in
many different ways. It is hard to compare apples-to-
This is why we launched a global initiative focused on a
universal set of principles and a certification program.
Challenges for Sustainable Travel
1. Criteria for Sustainability
– Hotel & Tour Operator Criteria - 2008, revised
– Destination Criteria - released Nov 2013
2. “Certify the Certifiers” – 140+ certifiers
– 3 tiers of GSTC verification levels of certification
schemes: Recognized, Approved, Accredited
– 19 are “Recognized” & 1 “Approved” as of Feb
GSTC’s Core Activities
– “Early Adopters” program 2012-13
– “Destination Partner Program” - new for 2014 –
assessments, recommendations, training for
4. Education & Training
5. Advocacy for sustainability in travel & tourism
GSTC’s Core Activities, continued
• Created with the input of experts, groups and
companies from around the planet.
• Define sustainable tourism in a way that is actionable,
measurable and credible.
• A minimum standard of sustainability for tourism
businesses and destinations across the globe.
The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria
• Effective sustainability planning
• Maximizing social and economic benefits for the
• Enhancing cultural heritage
• Reducing negative impacts to the environment.
Four Main Themes Organize the Criteria
• Hospitality industry professionals
• Tour operators
• Travel Agents
• Non-Governmental Organizations (Non-profits)
Who Needs Them?
• Worldwide applicability
• Suitable for developed and developing countries
• For large and small businesses and destinations
• For urban, rural, and natural areas
• Considering traditional and indigenous communities
GSTC sets standards
Certification Bodies become GSTC-Recognized
-- CB’s can be non-profit, gov’t agencies, for-profits --
Travel Companies get certified as “sustainable”
-- hotels, tour operators, cruise lines, destinations, sellers of travel --
Sustainable tourism has the power to create change on
a global scale by:
– Preserving destinations for generations to come
– Revitalizing local economies and communities
– Alleviating poverty
– Safeguarding our cultural heritage
– Utilizing the power of sustainable tourism to contribute to the UN
Summit’s Millennium Development Goals
– Creating jobs within and beyond destinations
– Keeping tourism dollars within destinations
Everyone benefits from implementing sustainable
Why Should You Care?
More of the world’s 7 billion people are traveling….
Consumer Demand Is Growing for Sustainability
92% [of consumers] would buy a product with a social and/or environmental benefit if
given the opportunity, and more than two-thirds (67%) have done so in the past 12
months. Nine-in-10 global citizens say they would boycott if they learned of a
company’s irresponsible business practices, and more than half (55%) have done so in
the past 12 months.
(2013 Cone Communications/EchoGlobal CSR Study 2013)
As many as 75 percent of travelers want a more responsible vacation, while 66 percent
would like to be able to more easily identify a greener vacation.
(Survival of the Fittest: Sustainable Tourism Means Business 2012)
The UNWTO reports that more than a third of travelers who favor environmentally
responsible travel are “willing to pay between 2 percent and 40 percent more for this
(Tourism in the Green Economy – Background Report 2012)
• Gain education about how to become more
sustainable in your business practices.
• Add legitimacy to your sustainability program by
aligning with GSTC and the criteria.
• Gain access to experts in sustainable tourism.
Consider Joining GSTC
• Certify your business or
destination through a GSTC-
• Use the criteria in your
processes, and promote the
fact that you use them
After You Join Consider
ASTA is a charter member of GSTC and was a member of the precursor
taskforce at the UN Foundation. ASTA currently serves on GSTC’s Market
We have developed our own CSR statement and goals for our internal operations as
well as educating our members on sustainable operations and travel.
We are also supporters of key programs that are aligned with our goals:
ASTA’s Own Efforts to Be Sustainable
• Recognize fight against global warming is of critical
importance to the future of tourism
• Provide information on how to implement
sustainable business practices to our members
• Assist our members in providing sustainable tourism
options to consumers
• Conduct our operations in a sustainable and
ASTA’s Sustainability Goals
• An education and self-assessment program for travel
• The core of the program is the Green Guide, which
provides an overview of sustainable travel as well as a
large section on sustainable operations.
– There are sections on each travel segment (air, hotel,
cruise, tour) with details on what constitutes sustainable
travel for that travel type.
• Members who complete the self-assessment sign-off on
our Green Code of Ethics and complete the application
become Green Members.
ASTA’s Green Program
• The Program has recently been expanded to cover
all four areas in the GSTC criteria and a new Green
Guide has been published.
• Next step will be to move the program from being a
self-assessment to a certification program.
Future of the Green Program
Thank you for your interest!