The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) recently announced that Fair Trade Tourism (FTT) in South Africa, has attained the organization’s ‘recognized’ certification status. The awarded status benchmarks its public commitment to promote sustainable tourism products and services recognized by the GSTC.

FTT has committed to using the GSTC Criteria – the first and only global framework for defining a sustainable travel benchmark – as the reference for its sustainable travel criteria. Rigorous review and authorization procedures have determined that FTT’s standards are considered equivalent to the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria; the worldwide minimum requirement for tourism businesses of all size to approach sustainability.

“FTT is very proud to achieve GSTC recognition as this affirms our status as a leading pioneer for sustainable tourism in Africa,” FTT Executive Director Jennifer Seif said. “GSTC recognition benefits businesses certified by FTT by affording preferential access to distribution channels.”

Thirteen bodies (including FTT) have received the GSTC-recognized status:

·      Austrian Ecolabel for Tourism  (Österreichisches Umweltzeichen)

·      Biosphere Responsible Tourism

·      Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) for hotels

·      EarthCheck Company Standard

·      Eco-Certification Malta

·      Ecotourism Australia's ecotourism standard

·      Ecotourism Australia's advanced ecotourism standard

·      Ecotourism Ireland Certification Programme

·      European Ecotourism Labeling Standard (EETLS)

·      Fair Trade in Tourism (FTT)

·      Rainforest Alliance standard for tourism operations

·      Sustainable Tourism Eco-Certification Program (STEP)

·      Travelife Sustainability System for Hotels and Accommodations

·      Japan Environmentally Sustainable Accommodations International Standard (ESAIS)

Each of the GSTC-recognized organizations has taken the first of three steps in establishing the GSTC process. Phases of establishing the global benchmark include recognizing the GSTC standard; evaluation of certification process for transparency by a third party; full GSTC-accreditation (beginning December 2014).

“By committing to sustainable tourism standards, FTT has provided tourists with the assurance that their travel benefits local communities and economies, and that the business is operated ethically and in a socially and environmentally responsible manner,” said Leilani Latimer, Director, Sustainability Initiatives, Sabre Holdings and GSTC Board Member.

The GSTC will continue to work with standard owners around the world to provide GSTC recognition. All standards are encouraged to apply for GSTC-recognized status and all certification programs to apply for approval. To learn more about the GSTC process please visit the GSTC website http://www.gstcouncil.org/.

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