Merger creates global champion in sustainable travel and tourism
Madrid, Spain, 22 December 2014 – The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and the Tour Operators' Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development (TOI) announce their merger, as approved by the boards of directors of each organization.
"While retaining our vital DNA as a neutral and independent arbiter of standards for sustainability in travel and tourism, which is well established in our bylaws and organizational structure, the GSTC from our inception has welcomed the participation of all subsectors within travel and tourism," said Randy Durband, GSTC's CEO. "Tour operators uniquely touch all facets of the tourism value chain and therefore can play a vital role in the enhancement of sustainability throughout it."
"This is a major step forward that reinforces the partnership between players from all horizons who all share a vision that travel and tourism is a powerful weapon to fight poverty, while working at preserving the environment and conserving heritage and culture," said Michel Lemay, Chairman of TOI.
The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) announces the appointment of Mr. Guy Chester as its new Technical Director. The position includes responsibility for managing the GSTC's vital role in setting and disseminating its global baseline standards for sustainability in the travel and tourism industry.
Two sets of standards, one for destinations and the other for hotels and tour operators, are collectively known as the GSTC Criteria. The GSTC Criteria provide an essential tool for public and private entities in assessing their sustainability standards. The GSTC plans to expand the famous and globally-applied Criteria into greater relevance for more subsectors of the travel industry.
"Guy Chester is uniquely qualified based on his long and deep experience in making sustainable tourism activities more accountable, measurable, and actionable" says GSTC CEO Randy Durband. "We are delighted to have him lead our important work in sustainability standards development and application. We wish to thank his predecessor, Amos Bien, for his long and tireless contributions from the beginnings of the GSTC to the present."
Amos Bien remains with the organization in the role of Associate Technical Director, shared by Kathleen Pessolano who also serves as Director of Destination Programs.
The Global Sustainable Tourism Council proudly welcomes the news that longtime GSTC Members and GSTC Recognized Standards, Rainforest Alliance and Travelife, will be teaming up to give travelers more options when booking sustainable accommodations. The two organizations signed an agreement in which all accommodations that meet the criteria of Rainforest Alliance certification for sustainable tourism may also use the certification label of Travelife Hotels & Accommodations.
This is the first strategic agreement in which two GSTC Recognized Standards collaborated to achieve objectives that are mutually beneficial. Both entities are recognized for their alignment with the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria for Hotels and Tour Operators, meaning the certification system meets the baseline standards for what is considered to be sustainable. The Rainforest Alliance represents one of the strongest names in Latin America and the Caribbean when it comes to sustainability. Similarly, Travelife's brand recognition is most noticeable in Europe. This innovative partnership allows both organizations to leverage success and combine resources in a way that increases recognition for accommodations that are committed to the principles of sustainability.
The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) recently launched the Sustainability Training Program to meet the growing worldwide demand for sustainable tourism education and training. Since the introduction of the GSTC Criteria in 2008, the GSTC continues to strive for universal adoption of sustainable tourism criteria, with education as a key component.
The GSTC Sustainability Training Program offers 1-5 day on-site courses designed for anyone in the travel and tourism industry, including: hotel and tour operators, destination managers, government officials, resource managers, educational consultants, and academic institutions. Courses are structured to provide participants with the resources to make sustainability practices actionable, collaborative, and effective.
On December 1st, the GSTC hosted a 3-day course with Sustainable Riviera Maya in Riviera Maya, Mexico. The course explored sustainable tourism development and provided practical guidance in Spanish on adopting the GSTC Criteria in developing destinations. A panel of high-level tourism professionals discussed strategies in the Riviera Maya region, drawing on the experiences of GSTC Early Adopters.
In November, the Mayor of Arona, a major coastal destination in Tenerife, one of the Spanish Canary Islands, signed a commitment letter with the President of the Institute for Responsible Tourism (ITR), Tomas Azcarate and the Chair of the GSTC, Luigi Cabrini. The destination engages in advancing a tourism model based on the principles of sustainability, cultural diversity and social responsibility, with the development of a number of strategic actions. The process will culminate with a certification issued by ITR, a program that utilizes standards and processes reviewed and approved by the GSTC.
Having formally committed to achieve sustainability standards, Arona will join the recently created GSTC Destinations Community, open to destinations certified under a GSTC Approved program or in the process of certification.