The GSTC Criteria for Destinations and the related Performance Indicators were developed based on already recognized criteria and approaches including, for example, the UNWTO destination level indicators, GSTC Criteria for Hotels and Tour Operators, and nearly 40 other widely accepted principles and guidelines, certification criteria and indicators. They reflect certification standards, indicators, criteria, and best practices from different cultural and geo-political contexts around the world in tourism and other sectors where applicable. Potential indicators were screened for relevance and practicality, as well as their applicability to a broad range of destination types. They were field-tested around the world. For details on how the criteria were developed click here.
The GSTC Destination Criteria is now going a revision. For more information.
Some of the expected uses of the criteria by tourism management organizations include the following:
- Serve as basic guidelines for destinations which wish to become more sustainable
- Help consumers identify sound sustainable tourism destinations
- Serve as a common denominator for information media to recognize destinations and inform the public regarding their sustainability
- Help certification and other voluntary destination level programs ensure that their standards meet a broadly-accepted baseline
- Offer governmental, non-governmental, and private sector programs a starting point for developing sustainable tourism requirements
- Serve as basic guidelines for education and training bodies, such as hotel schools and universities
The performance indicators presented here are designed to provide guidance in measuring compliance with the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria for Destinations (GSTC C-D). They are not intended to be the definitive set or all-inclusive, but to provide a solid sample set for users of the GSTC-D in developing their own indicator sets.
This set of indicators will be updated periodically, as new information is developed. If you would like to suggest new indicators or other improvements, please send your suggestions to email@example.com.
|SECTION A: Demonstrate sustainable destination management|
|A1 Sustainable destination strategy
The destination has established and is implementing a multi-year destination strategy that is publicly available, is suited to its scale; that considers environmental, economic, social, cultural, quality, health, and safety, and aesthetic issues; and was developed with public participation.
|IN-A1.a. Multi-year destination strategy that includes a focus on sustainability and sustainable tourism and includes environmental, economic, social, cultural, quality, health, and safety issues
IN-A1.b. Multi-year destination plan or strategy that is up-to-date and publicly available
IN-A1.c. Multi-year destination plan or strategy that was developed with public participation
IN-A1.d. Political commitment to implement the multi-year destination plan and evidence of implementation
|A2 Destination management organization
The destination has an effective organization, department, group, or committee responsible for a coordinated approach to sustainable tourism, with involvement by the private sector and public sector. This group is suited to the size and scale of the destination, and has defined responsibilities, oversight, and implementation capability for the management of environmental, economic, social, and cultural issues. This group’s activities are appropriately funded.
|IN-A2.a. An organization has responsibility for a coordinated approach to the management of sustainable tourism
IN-A2.b. The private sector and public sector are involved in the organization and coordination of tourism
IN-A2.c. The tourism organization is suited to the size and scale of the destination
IN-A2.d. Individuals within the tourism organization have assigned responsibilities for sustainable tourism
IN-A2.e. The tourism organization is appropriately funded
The destination has a system to monitor, publicly report, and respond to environmental, economic, social, cultural, tourism, and human rights issues. The monitoring system is reviewed and evaluated periodically.
|IN-A3.a. Active monitoring and public reporting of environmental, economic, social, cultural, tourism, and human rights issues
IN-A3.b. Monitoring system is reviewed and evaluated periodically
IN-A3.c. Tourism impact mitigation procedures funded and active
|A4 Tourism seasonality management
The destination dedicates resources to mitigate seasonal variability of tourism where appropriate, working to balance the needs of the local economy, community, cultures and environment, to identify year-round tourism opportunities.
|IN-A4.a. Specific strategy for marketing off-season events and attracting year-round visitors|
|A5 Climate change adaptation
The destination has a system to identify risks and opportunities associated with climate change. This system encourages climate change adaptation strategies for development, siting, design, and management of facilities. The system contributes to the sustainability and resilience of the destination and to public education on climate for both residents and tourists.
|IN-A5.a. Current system for climate change adaptation and risk assessment
IN-A5.b. Laws or policies to mitigate climate change and encourage technologies to mitigate climate change
IN-A5.c. Program to educate and raise awareness among the public, tourism enterprises, and visitors about climate change
|A6 Inventory of tourism assets and attractions
The destination has an up-to-date, publicly available inventory and assessment of its tourism assets and attractions, including natural and cultural sites.
|IN-A6.a. Current inventory and classification of tourism assets and attractions including natural and cultural sites|
|A7 Planning Regulations
The destination has planning guidelines, regulations and/or policies that require environmental, economic, and social impact assessment and integrate sustainable land use, design, construction, and demolition. The guidelines, regulations and/or policies are designed to protect natural and cultural resources, were created with local inputs from the public and a thorough review process, are publicly communicated, and are enforced.
|IN-A7.a. Planning or zoning guidelines, regulations and/or policies that protect natural and cultural resources
IN-A7.b. Guidelines, regulations, and/or policies that address sustainable land use, design, construction, and demolition
IN-A7.c. Planning guidelines, regulations, and/or policies were created with local inputs from the public and a thorough review process
IN-A7.d. Planning guidelines, regulations, and/or policies are publicly communicated and are enforced
|A8 Access for all
Where appropriate, sites and facilities, including those of natural and cultural importance, are accessible to all, including persons with disabilities and others who have specific access requirements. Where such sites and facilities are not immediately accessible, access is afforded through the design and implementation of solutions that take into account both the integrity of the site and such reasonable accommodations for persons with access requirements as can be achieved.
|IN-A8.a. Policies supporting access to tourist sites and facilities, including those of natural and cultural importance, for individuals with disabilities and others who have specific access requirements, where appropriate
IN-A8.b. Accessibility solutions are designed to take into account the integrity of the site while making reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities
|A9 Property acquisitions
Laws and regulations regarding property acquisitions exist, are enforced, comply with communal and indigenous rights, ensure public consultation, and do not authorize resettlement without prior informed consent and/or reasonable compensation.
|IN-A9.a. Policy or legislation, including enforcement provisions, exist
IN-A9.b. Policy or legislation that considers indigenous rights, ensures public consultation and authorizes resettlement only when there is informed consent and/or reasonable compensation
|A10 Visitor satisfaction
The destination has a system to monitor and publicly report visitor satisfaction, and, if necessary, to take action to improve visitor satisfaction.
|IN-A10.a. Collection and public reporting of data on visitor satisfaction
IN-A10.b. System to take action to improve visitor satisfaction based on monitoring information
|A11 Sustainability standards
The destination has a system to promote sustainability standards for enterprises consistent with the GSTC Criteria. The destination makes publicly available a list of sustainability certified or verified enterprises.
|IN-A11.a. Industry-supported sustainable tourism certification or environmental management system
IN-A11.b. Sustainable tourism certification or environmental management system recognized by the GSTC
IN-A11.c. Monitoring of tourism business participation in tourism certification or environmental management system
IN-A11.d. Publicly available list of sustainably certified or verified enterprises
|A12 Safety and security
The destination has a system to monitor, prevent, publicly report, and respond to crime, safety, and health hazards.
|IN-A12.a. On-going compulsory inspections of fire, food hygiene, and electricity safety for tourism properties
IN-A12.b. Safety precautions such as first aid stations at beaches/tourist attraction sites
IN-A12.c. System to prevent and respond to crime
IN-A12.d. Taxi licensing system with clear pricing and an organized taxi dispatch system at points of visitor entry
IN-A12.e. Public reporting of safety and security
|A13 Crisis and emergency management
The destination has a crisis and emergency response plan that is appropriate to the destination. Key elements are communicated to residents, visitors, and enterprises. The plan establishes procedures and provides resources and training for staff, visitors, and residents, and is updated on a regular basis.
|IN-A13.a. Publicly available crisis and emergency response plan that considers the tourism sector
IN-A13.b. Financial and human capital to implement the crisis and emergency response plan
IN-A13.c. Crisis and emergency response plan developed with input from the tourism private sector and includes communication procedures for during and after a crisis or emergency
IN-A13.d. Crisis and emergency response plan provides resources and training for staff, visitors, and residents
IN-A13.e. Crisis and emergency response plan is updated on a regular basis
Promotion is accurate with regard to the destination and its products, services, and sustainability claims. The promotional messages treat local communities and tourists authentically and respectfully.
|IN-A14.a. Destination promotional messages that represent local communities and visitors authentically and respectfully
IN-A14.b. Destination promotional messages that are accurate in their description of products and services
SECTION B: Maximize economic benefits to the host community and minimize negative impacts
|B1 Economic monitoring
The direct and indirect economic contribution of tourism to the destination’s economy is monitored and publicly reported at least annually. To the extent feasible, this should include visitor expenditure, revenue per available room, employment and investment data.
|IN-B1.a. Regular monitoring and reporting of visitor expenditure data, revenue per available room, employment and investment data
IN-B1.b. Regular monitoring and reporting at least annually of direct and indirect contributions of tourism
IN-B1.c. Collection and public reporting at least annually of tourism-related employment data, disaggregated by gender and age group
|B2 Local career opportunities
The destination’s enterprises provide equal employment, training opportunities, occupational safety, and fair wages for all.
|IN-B2.a. Legislation or policies supporting equal opportunities in employment for all, including women, youth, disabled people, minorities, and other vulnerable populations
IN-B2.b. Training programs that provide equal access to all, including women, youth, disabled people, minorities, and other vulnerable populations
IN-B2.c. Legislation or policies supporting occupational safety for all
IN-B2.d. Legislation or policies supporting fair wages for all, including women, youth, disabled people, minorities, and other vulnerable populations
|B3 Public participation
The destination has a system that encourages public participation in destination planning and decision making on an ongoing basis.
|IN-B3.a. System for involving public, private, and community stakeholders in destination management planning and decision making
IN-B3.b. Public meeting(s) to discuss destination management issues each year
|B4 Local community opinion
Local communities’ aspirations, concerns, and satisfaction with destination management are regularly monitored, recorded and publicly reported in a timely manner.
|IN-B4.a. Regular collection, monitoring, recording, and public reporting of data on resident aspirations, concerns, and satisfaction with destination management
IN-B4.b. Collection, monitoring, recording, and public recording of data occurs in a timely manner
|B5 Local access
The destination monitors, protects, and when necessary rehabilitates or restores local community access to natural and cultural sites.
|IN-B5.a. Programs to monitor, protect, and rehabilitate or restore public access by locals and domestic visitors to natural and cultural sites
IN-B5.b. Monitoring of behaviour and characteristics of local, domestic and foreign visitors to tourist sites and attractions
|B6 Tourism awareness and education
The destination provides regular programs to affected communities to enhance their understanding of the opportunities and challenges of tourism, and the importance of sustainability.
|IN-B6.a. Program to raise awareness of tourism’s role and potential contribution held in communities, schools, and higher education institutions|
|B7 Preventing exploitation
The destination has laws and established practices to prevent commercial, sexual, or any other form of exploitation and harassment of anyone, particularly of children, adolescents, women, and minorities. The laws and established practices are publicly communicated.
|IN-B7.a. Laws and a program to prevent commercial, sexual, or any other form of exploitation, discrimination or harassment of residents or visitors
IN-B7.b. Laws and program are publicly communicated
|B8 Support for community
The destination has a system to enable and encourage enterprises, visitors, and the public to contribute to community and sustainability initiatives.
|IN-B8.a. Programs for enterprises, visitors, and the public to contribute donations to community and biodiversity conservation initiatives and/or infrastructure development|
|B9 Supporting local entrepreneurs and fair trade
The destination has a system that supports local and small- and medium-sized enterprises, and promotes and develops local sustainable products and fair trade principles that are based on the area’s nature and culture. These may include food and beverages, crafts, performance arts, agricultural products, etc.
|IN-B9.a. Program to support and build capacity of local and small- and medium-sized enterprises
IN-B9.b. Program encourages enterprises to purchase goods and services locally
IN-B9.c. Program to promote and develop local sustainable products based on local nature and culture
IN-B9.d. Program to include local artisans, farmers, and suppliers in the tourism value chain
SECTION C: Maximize benefits to communities, visitors, and culture; minimize negative impacts
|C1 Attraction protection
The destination has a policy and system to evaluate, rehabilitate, and conserve natural and cultural sites, including built heritage (historic and archaeological) and rural and urban scenic views.
|IN-C1.a. Management system to protect natural and cultural sites, including build heritage and rural and urban scenic views
IN-C1.b. Management system to monitor, measure, and mitigate tourism impacts on sites and attractions
|C2 Visitor management
The destination has a visitor management system for attraction sites that includes measures to preserve, protect, and enhance natural and cultural assets.
|IN-C2.a. Administrative mechanism responsible for implementing visitor management plans and operations|
|C3 Visitor behavior
The destination has published and provided guidelines for proper visitor behavior at sensitive sites. Such guidelines are designed to minimize adverse impacts on sensitive sites and strengthen positive visitor behaviors.
|IN-C3.a. Cultural and environmental guidelines for visitor behaviour in sensitive sites
IN-C3.b. Code of practice for tour guides and tour operators
|C4 Cultural heritage protection
The destination has laws governing the proper sale, trade, display, or gifting of historical and archaeological artefacts.
|IN-C4.a. Laws or regulations to protect historical and archaeological artefacts including those located under water, and evidence of their enforcement
IN-C4.b. Program to protect and celebrate intangible cultural heritage (e.g., includes song, music, drama, skills and crafts)
|C5 Site interpretation
Accurate interpretive information is provided at natural and cultural sites. The information is culturally appropriate, developed with community collaboration, and communicated in languages pertinent to visitors.
|IN-C5.a. Interpretive information available to visitors in tourist offices and at natural and cultural sites
IN-C5.b. Interpretive information is culturally appropriate
IN-C5.c. Interpretive information is developed with community collaboration
IN-C5.d. Interpretive information is available in languages pertinent to visitors
IN-C5.e. Tour guide training in the use of interpretive information
|C6 Intellectual property
The destination has a system to contribute to the protection and preservation of intellectual property rights of communities and individuals.
|IN-C6.a. Laws, regulations or programs to protect intellectual property rights of local individuals and communities|
SECTION D: Maximize benefits to the environment and minimize negative impacts
|D1 Environmental risks
The destination has identified environmental risks and has a system in place to address them.
|IN-D1.a. Sustainability assessment of the destination within the last five years, identifying environmental risks
IN-D1.b. System in place to address identified risks
|D2 Protection of sensitive environments
The destination has a system to monitor the environmental impact of tourism, conserve habitats, species, and ecosystems, and prevent the introduction of invasive species.
|IN-D2.a. Maintained and updated inventory of sensitive and threatened wildlife and habitats
IN-D2.b. Management system to monitor impacts and to protect ecosystems, sensitive environments, and species
IN-D2.c. System prevents the introduction of invasive species
|D3 Wildlife protection
The destination has a system to ensure compliance with local, national, and international laws and standards for the harvest or capture, display, and sale of wildlife (including plants and animals).
|IN-D3.a. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
IN-D3.b. Regulations and standards for controlling harvesting or capture, display, sale, of plants and animals
|D4 Greenhouse gas emissions
The destination has a system to encourage enterprises to measure, monitor, minimize, publicly report, and mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions from all aspects of their operation (including emissions from service providers).
|IN-D4.a. Program to assist enterprises to measure, monitor, minimize, and publicly report greenhouse gas emissions
IN-D4.b. System to assist enterprises to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions
|D5 Energy conservation
The destination has a system to encourage enterprises to measure, monitor, reduce, and publicly report energy consumption, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
|IN-D5.a. Program to promote energy conservation and measure, monitor, reduce, and publicly report energy consumption
IN-D5.b. Policies and incentives to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, improve energy efficiency, and encourage the adoption and use of renewable energy technologies
|D6 Water Management
The destination has a system to encourage enterprises to measure, monitor, reduce, and publicly report water usage.
|IN-D6.a. Program to assist enterprises to measure, monitor, reduce, and publicly report water usage|
|D7 Water security
The destination has a system to monitor its water resources to ensure that use by enterprises is compatible with the water requirements of the destination community.
|IN-D7.a. Management system to ensure that water use by enterprises and water requirements of the destination community are balanced and compatible|
|D8 Water quality
The destination has a system to monitor drinking and recreational water quality using quality standards. The monitoring results are publicly available, and the destination has a system to respond in a timely manner to water quality issues.
|IN-D8.a. Management system to monitor and publicly report on drinking and recreational water quality
IN-D8.b. Monitoring results are publicly available
IN-D8.c. System to respond in a timely manner to water quality issues
The destination has clear and enforced guidelines in place for the siting, maintenance and testing of discharge from septic tanks and wastewater treatment systems, and ensures wastes are properly treated and reused or released safely with minimal adverse effects to the local population and the environment.
|IN-D9.a. Regulations for the siting, maintenance, and testing of discharge from septic tanks and wastewater treatment systems, and evidence of their enforcement
IN-D9.b. Regulations to ensure the size and type of waste water treatment is adequate for the location, and evidence of their enforcement
IN-D9.c. Program to assist enterprises to effectively treat and reuse wastewater
IN-D9.d. Program to ensure proper treatment of wastes and safe reuse or release with minimal adverse effects to local population and environment
|D10 Solid waste reduction
The destination has a system to encourage enterprises to reduce, reuse, and recycle solid waste. Any residual solid waste that is not reused or recycled is disposed of safely and sustainably.
|IN-D10.a. Waste collection system that maintains public records on the amount of waste generated
IN-D10.b. Solid waste management plan that is implemented, and has quantitative goals to minimize, and ensure safe sustainable disposal of waste that is not reused or recycled
IN-D10.c. Program to assist enterprises to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste
IN-D10.d. Program to reduce the use of bottled water by enterprises and visitors
|D11 Light and noise pollution
The destination has guidelines and regulations to minimize light and noise pollution. The destination encourages enterprises to follow these guidelines and regulations.
|IN-D11.a. Guidelines and regulations to minimize noise and light pollution
IN-D11.b. Program to encourage enterprises to follow guidelines and regulations to minimize noise and light pollution
|D12 Low-impact transportation
The destination has a system to increase the use of low-impact transportation, including public transportation and active transportation (e.g., walking and cycling).
|IN-D12.a. Program to increase the use of low-impact transportation
IN-D12.b. Program to make sites of visitor interest more accessible to active transportation (e.g., walking and cycling)
Note on the usage of the GSTC Criteria:
- The GSTC encourages broad use and application of the GSTC Criteria, which are available from this website free of charge for their non-commercial use.
- However, the GSTC reserves the right to assess and charge fees for the commercial use of the GSTC Criteria.