GSTC Accreditation plays an important role in providing strong evidence of policies and practices for sustainable management of businesses and destinations on the basis of those organizations becoming certified sustainable by a GSTC-Accredited Certification Body.
Certification means that a neutral 3rd-party Certification Body has verified the claims of an organization, including on-site reviews by qualified and competent auditors. Accreditation refers to the process whereby a Certification Body gains a neutral 3rd-party verification that their processes are neutral and competent.
For example, a hotel chooses to become certified by a competent and neutral Certification Body. Doing so provides evidence to all stakeholders that the hotel management’s claims for sustainable management have been verified by a neutral 3rd-party expert body. In order to provide even greater evidence of the quality and neutrality of that certification, the hotel will choose to be certified by a Certification Body that has been accredited by the GSTC.
That hotel then deserves market support from travelers and sellers of travel who prefer to purchase sustainable products and services. GSTC’s market access activities are based on the goal of providing information on those certified hotels (and tour operators and destinations) to the marketplace.
GSTC-Accredited means that the process of certification has been carefully analyzed and verified for its neutrality and competence. Separately, GSTC also provides “GSTC Recognition of Standards” which means that a set of standards has been verified (NOT accredited!!) to include the GSTC Criteria — the value of this being that the standards prove that they include the four pillars of sustainability that include environment, social and community issues, cultural, and sustainable management.
Prominent examples of the use of the GSTC framework in the marketplace include:
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has set a target that by the end of 2019 all the operators of their global tour operations (shore excursions) must be certified by a Certification Body that is Accredited by the GSTC. A list of their sustainability targets including their Global Tourism Operations targets that engage the GSTC framework.
TUI Group, one of the world’s largest travel providers, shows preference in their global selection of hotels for those that are certified sustainable by Certification Bodies that use standards that have gained “GSTC Recognition of Standards”:
TUI customers in the past year have gone on 6.3 million ‘greener and fairer’ holidays, staying in 1170 hotels that have been certified with a GSTC-Recognized standard
Transat A.T., a leading integrated international tourism company specializing in holiday travel and active in air transportation with its airline Air Transat, accommodation, travel packaging and distribution. It operates mainly in Canada, Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean, with some 25 destination countries, and distributes products in over 50 countries. Transat is committed to sustainable tourism development:
Transat promotes sustainable hotels with “certifications that meet the Global Sustainable Tourism Council requirements”