How a Program Becomes GSTC Accredited
GSTC Accredited Program
GSTC-Accredited means that a certification body (CB) is using a GSTC-Recognized standard and has been assessed and found in compliance with international standards and good practices. Businesses certified by an accredited certification body can also use the GSTC-Approved language and seal for businesses and can expect favorable positioning in the market place, among other benefits.
In broad terms it means that the GSTC has recognized that the standard used for certification is aligned with the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC-Recognized) and that the accreditation body has determined that the certification procedures meet international standards for transparency, impartiality, and competence. GSTC Accredited status is the most reliable and cost effective way to ensure confidence and credibility of sustainable tourism certification, and worldwide acceptance. The GSTC encourages any certification bodies that are interested in pursuing full accreditation to do so and bypass the GSTC-Approved level. It is expected that approved certification bodies will move towards accreditation before the end of 2014. After the end of 2014, only accredited certifiers and their certified businesses and activities will be able to use the GSTC name ad seals.
Who can apply?
Any certification program that uses a GSTC-Recognized Standard may apply for GSTC Accreditation. The program should also have rules for the application of the standard, transparent and impartial verification procedures, and auditors who are technically competent in sustainable tourism and conformity assessment. We will follow ISO trends in verification and conformity assessment procedures.
The purpose of the GSTC Process is to recognize and reward genuine practitioners of sustainable tourism, which in turn builds confidence and credibility with consumers. Based on this, many travel and tourism organizations and major distributors have publically committed to offering sustainable products and service that have been through the GSTC Process exclusively. By the end of 2014 the GSTC-Approved stage of the GSTC Process will be phased out. Those who engage in the accreditation process will not only have an early advantage over those who are GSTC-Approved, their programs will be able to highlight their adherences to a more reliable and rigorous program.
- Certification bodies can use the accredited seal with a licensing agreement but at no cost.
- Certified businesses and activities will be able to use the GSTC Approved seal in exchange for a licensing agreement and a fee of US$100 per year per certificate.
- Certified businesses may qualify for preferential listing and market distribution.
- Promotion to GSTC members and partners
- Placement on GSTC directory
The process to become accredited requires working with a GSTC endorsed accreditation body. To be endorsed, an accreditation body must be a member of the ISEAL Alliance or a member of IAF with a Multilateral Recognition Agreement, as well as be in compliance with ISO/IEC 17011and GSTC requirements.
A certification body using a GSTC-Recognized standard submits an application and other required documentation to a GSTC endorsed accreditation body of the CB’s choosing. The complete process and fee structure for evaluation are set by the accreditation body; GSTC does not influence or intervene in this process.
GSTC Accreditation Manual
Each accreditation body will determine the time required from application through accreditation. Experience has shown that it can take between six and eight months if the CB is ready for accreditation and complies with all processes. It can take much less time for scope extension of a CB already accredited for another standard, or longer if the CB is not ready for accreditation. GSTC does not influence or intervene in this process.
The GSTC is outsourcing all accreditation activities to international accreditation bodies (ISEAL members) and national accreditation bodies (IAF members). Therefore, the GSTC will not be part of the price negotiations between certification bodies and accreditation bodies. GSTC does not influence or intervene in this process.
However certification bodies must agree to licensing agreements for themselves (at no cost) and sublicensing agreements for their certificate holders, in order to use the GSTC name and seals. The cost will be US $100 per certificate.
Licensing and sublicensing agreements
GSTC Accreditation Manual
Download the GSTC Accreditation Manual here.
Development of the GSTC Process
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.
 Some certification programs certify specific tours and other tourism products, rather than businesses as a whole. The certification program determines its own scope and is accredited as competent to certify within that scope.