What We Do

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) establishes and manages global sustainable standards with the aim of increasing sustainable tourism knowledge and practices among public and private stakeholders. The GSTC is independent and neutral, serving the important role of managing its global baseline standards for sustainability in travel and tourism. It is mostly a volunteer organization. Financial support from donations, sponsorship, and membership fees are critical to our own sustainability.

At the heart of this work are the GSTC Criteria.  There are two sets of GSTC Criteria: Destination Criteria and Industry Criteria.  These are the guiding principles and minimum requirements that any tourism business or destination should aspire to reach in order to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources, while ensuring tourism meets its potential as a tool for conservation and poverty alleviation. 

The GSTC is a USA-registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization that represents a diverse and global membership, including UN agencies, leading travel companies, hotels, country tourism boards, tour operators, individuals and communities – all striving to achieve best practices in sustainable tourism.  We are a virtual organization with staff and volunteers working from all six populated continents. 

Membership is open to all interested parties and does not by itself imply endorsement by the GSTC of the policies and practices of the member organization.

Developing International Standards:

The GSTC Criteria serve as baseline standards for sustainability in global travel and tourism.  The Criteria can be used in many important ways:

  • Serve as basic guidelines for businesses of all sizes to become more sustainable
  • Serve as guidance for travelers and travel providers in choosing suppliers and sustainable tourism programs
  • Serve as a common denominator for media to recognize sustainable tourism providers
  • Help certification and other voluntary programs ensure that their standard smeet a broadly-accepted baseline
  • Offer governmental, non-governmental and private sector programs a starting point for developing sustainable tourism requirements
  • Serve as baseline guidelines for education and training bodies such as hotel schools and Universities

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council's Criteria are the minimum requirements that any tourism businesss should asprie to reach in order to protect and sustain the world's natural and cultural resources while ensuring tourism meets its potential as a tool for poverty alleviation. Read more about the GSTC Criteria

Serving as the Accreditation Body for sustainability in Travel & Tourism:

GSTC is an Accreditation Body, informally referred to as the "certifier of certifiers," and formally structured to follow codes of the ISEAL Alliance for sustainability standards in all sectors, in which GSTC serves uniquely as the single Accreditation Body for certification and eco-labeling in the Travel & Tourism Sector.

The Integrity Program is our name for the scheme in which GSTC places marks on the standards and processes employed by Certifying Bodies to verify their claims as independent, third-party certifiers of travel products and destinations. Learn about the Intergrity Program. More information on and logo usage.

Making Destinations Sustainable:

Destination stewardship is a process by which local communities; governmental agencies, NGOs, and the tourism industry take a multi-stakeholder approach to maintaining the cultural, environmental, economic, and esthetic integrity of their country, region, or town. In other words, to ensure that the destination retains and enhances the distinctive attributes that makes it attractive to beneficial tourism. The GSTC developed the Destinations Criteria and subsequent programs to help destinations apply the Criteria to their destination management programs. Learn more about the GSTC Destinations Program.

Promoting Market Access:

The GSTC promotes the development of broad market adoption and application of the GSTC Criteria. With the ultimate goal of increasing demand for sustainable travel and tourism offerings and building trust amongst travelers, the group works to identify opportunities and solutions for alignment greater market potential. The Market Access Working Group plays an integral role in helping the GSTC achieve these goals.

Increasing Knowledge:

The GSTC is committed to ensuring that sustainable tourism best practices are adopted and implemented by the industry and the traveling public. The GSTC Sustainable Tourism Training Program, with the support of the Education and Training Working Group, is tasked with developing and identifying the tools and resources to facilitate the transition to sustainable practices, and delivering training classes for a wide range of tourism industry professionals including: hotel and tour operators, destination managers, government officials, resource managers, educational consultants, and academic institutions.

Be a Part of the Sustainability Movement:

about smallParticipate with the GSTC:  Become a member or sponsor of the GSTC.  Participate in one of GSTC's programs designed to improve sustainability.

GSTC News:  Learn what is happening today at GSTC, as we continually developing ideas and strategies to meet the demands and momentum of this rapidly growing movement.

Subscribe to our Newsletter: Enjoy our monthly recap of news and announcements.

GSTC Events: Join the GSTC in several locations around the world.  Participate in meetings, workshops, conferences, and other networking events.

Share your views: Join us on Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn



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