Promotion of Sustainable Destinations

Destination Stewardship


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 aesthetic 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.

GSTC Criteria for Destinations

To promote sustainable tourism at a destination level, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) has established the GSTC Criteria for Destinations. The development of these criteria has followed a similar path as the original GSTC Criteria for Hotels and Tour Operators. The Destinations Working Group developed a set of draft criteria based on input from destination experts around the globe. These draft criteria were submitted to the GSTC International Standards Working Group for review and input.

GSTC Destination Partner Program 

The GSTC’s teams of experts can assist tourism destinations become more sustainable in terms of managing costs, preserving their assets, and enhancing visitor experience through our Destination Partner Program. The program includes training, written reports, and learning and networking from other destinations.  It is based on the GSTC Destination Criteria, showing destination how to benefit from these guidelines. The program consists of a menu of options for destinations to use to improve their business practices.

GSTC Early Adopter Program

The Early Adopters Program is designed to invite destinations to support and sponsor the research and development of the GSTC Destination Criteria. GSTC will conduct a launch of the Destination Criteria and indicators in at least 5 destination types and in up to 10 destinations to ensure they are applied diversely.

We invite destinations that wish to lead the efforts in promoting sustainability, to apply to the Early Adopters Program. All destination types will be considered. The early adopters will be widely recognized and their findings will help shape the final set of criteria.

This pilot phase will allow the testing of the criteria in selected destinations; it will complement information collected during the destinations criteria open public consultation. Participation in the program does not confer a formal recognition of alignment with the criteria at this stage; it will however enable participating destinations to apply for recognition without cost, once the process is established.

The GSTC will appoint a sustainable tourism consultant to conduct associated activities of the program. The appointed consultant will coordinate with the Early Adopter to collect relevant preliminary information, conduct an on-site verification exercise in the destination and present the outcomes of the pilot exercise. Upon execution of this Agreement, a timeline will be established and the Early Adopter will receive specific information on how the on-site validation will be carried out.

GSTC Destinations Working Group

The Destinations group is comprised of a diverse cross-section of public- and private sector sustainability leaders from around the world. It works on developing capacity-building tools aimed at meeting destination sustainability criteria. These tools aim to enable destinations to implement real change by using community engagement, systems for certifying sustainable operations, tools and training methodologies, incentives, and a comprehensive action plan to guide a collaborative effort for creating a destination-stewardship framework.

Members of the working group include:

Neil Rogers - (Chair) Neil Rogers Consulting
François Bédard - World Centre of Excellence for Destinations (CED)
Anna Spenceley - Spenceley Tourism and Development
Tony Charters - Tony Charters & Associates
Sarah Dayboll - Fairmont Hotels and Resorts
Don Hawkins - George Washington University
Jamie Sweeting - Sweeting Sustainability Solutions
Jonathan Tourtellot - National Geographic
Joana Homs – Barcelona Tourism
Richard Malesu - Botswana Tourism
Patricio A. Díaz de Losada - Instituto de Turismo Responsable
Peter Debrine - UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme

Please submit your application to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Visit the Destinations forum (members only) to engage in dialog, ask questions of the working group or post comments on the topic of sustainable destinations.


“We feel that we have an obligation to our industry and our world to show the way through Sustainable Hospitality by ensuring that the legacy of our property remains strong in the years to come.”

Hervé Houdré, regional director of operations for InterContinental New York.


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