The GSTC Process was developed for sustainable tourism standards and certification programs* and incorporates three stages.
Stage 1: GSTC-Recognition
Stage 2: GSTC-Approval (to be phased out by December 31, 2014)
Stage 3: GSTC-Accredited
*The GSTC Process is not applicable for individual businesses such as hotels or tour operators. Such business must work with certification programs that are GSTC-Approved or Accredited or have developed a standard that has been recognized by the GSTC.
Stage 1 of the process applies to sustainable tourism standards that wish to become GSTC-Recognized. Once recognized, these standards are considered equivalent to the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria. The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria are the worldwide minimum requirements for tourism businesses of all size to approach sustainability.
In Stage 2, certification programs apply to become GSTC-Approved to ensure the program meets GSTC requirements for processes and procedures. To apply, certification programs must use a GSTC-Recognized standard (Stage 1), pass a desk-audit by the GSTC technical team and receive final authorization from the GSTC Accreditation Panel. Once certification programs receive GSTC-Approved status they may begin certifying businesses. GSTC-Approved certification programs must transition to full GSTC Accreditation within two years of receiving Approval status.
Stage 3 is full GSTC Accreditation of a certification program. Once certification programs receive GSTC-Accredited status they may begin certifying businesses. GSTC-Accredited status is the most comprehensive and rigorous of the three stages.
A team of nine (9) GSTC experts developed the GSTC Process. Each member has an average of 20 years experience in sustainable tourism certification, conformity assessment and accreditation, developed the GSTC Process. The members represent five (5) continents including developed and developing countries.