The GSTC Accreditation Panel seeks to recognize standards and certification programs that are credible, transparent, impartial, and comply with the GSTC Criteria for sustainable tourism. The GSTC Accreditation Panel provides an impartial and independent voice for the GSTC Process and operates independently of the GSTC Secretariat. Current members of the Accreditation Panel are listed below. The GSTC Accreditation Panel members have been selected and appointed on the basis of specific qualifications and experience requirements (see Qualifications).
Cathy Parsons (Accreditation Panel Chair)
Cathy is currently a consultant on urban planning issues in Australia and has been chair of the Accreditation Panel since October 2010. She has been actively involved in the evolution to the present day of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. From 2001 to 2006, Cathy was the Executive Director and then CEO of the worldwide tourism certification program, Green Globe. She was responsible for all aspects of delivering the program to tourism operations in over 50 countries with the objective of achieving a more sustainable tourism industry. During her time in the mid-90ss as a senior executive with the Australian Government’s Department of Tourism, she managed the government’s environmental tourism programs. She assisted industry to develop the world’s first ecotourism certification program as well as several other tourism certification programs for different industry sectors.
Alice currently works as the Ecotourism Development Manager for Conservation Volunteers/Australian Nature Tours. Born in the UK, raised in Thailand and Ethiopia and now a new Australian she has an eclectic background. Her first degree is in Zoology (University of Liverpool), followed by a PhD on population dynamics of an aquatic insect (University College of Wales, Aberystwyth). Alice has worked extensively around the world on sustainable tourism standards including Vietnam (Flora Fauna International), China (WWF panda reserves, pilot of Green Globe IES and development of Community Based Tourism in Sichuan Province) and the Philippines (development of an Ecotourism Strategy for Department of Tourism). She was one of the founders of Ecotourism Australia and co-authored the world’s first ecotourism certification program as well as an EcoGuide program. Alice has worked extensively with development of standards, administration, training and auditing of sustainable tourism certification programs around the world, including Australia’s ECO Certification program, Respect Our Culture
Geoff established www.WorldClassTourism.com in 2010 as an international consultancy that improves the quality, safety, authenticity, and sustainability of the tourism experience. Geoff was the CEO of Qualmark New Zealand from 2004 to 2009, an organization that developed and assessed the quality standards for all types of tourism businesses including hotel chains, luxury boutique resorts, land and sea adventure activities and cultural tourist attractions. Geoff was responsible for introducing an integrated quality and environmental star rating system in 2008. Geoff works with tourism companies, governments, and donor agencies across Europe, Asia and the Pacific to improve tourism standards and is a part-time lecturer in tourism.
José Augusto A. K. Pinto de Abreu
During the last 25 years, José Augusto Abreu had the opportunity to work with standards and conformity assessment programs, both in the operational and strategic level and at international and national level. José Augusto’s experience comprises quality and safety and also the environment, ecolabelling, and sustainability. During these years he worked on several projects and initiatives, including many in the tourism sector. José Augusto worked for standards bodies, certification bodies, accreditation bodies, NGOs, governments and private enterprises. He is a civil engineer and holds a master in civil engineering. He lives in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Lisa has been involved with various sustainable tourism standards in southern Africa over the past decade, including national standards for South Africa (SANS1162:2011) and Mauritius (MS165:2014), Eco Awards Namibia, Egypt’s Green Star Hotel Standard, and Fair Trade Tourism including the development of their specific criteria for responsible volunteering and captive wildlife ‘attractions’. She also participated in the pilot phase of the GSTC’s criteria from 2010-2011 and facilitated a related workshop for African sustainable tourism certification schemes. Lisa is well known for her role in capacity building and technical training in the implementation of more sustainable operations and management systems with the private sector, DMOs, and various levels of government. She consults through Levelle Perspectives, is an Associate Member of Better Tourism Africa, and has been a member of the Sustainable Tourism Certification Alliance Africa since its inception, most recently as Chairperson of its working group on Standards and Best Practice. Lisa holds an MA Distinction in Environment, Development & Policy from the University of Sussex and calls Cape Town, South Africa, “home”.
Dr. Mihee Kang
Dr.Mihee Kang is President of Playforest, a cooperative of sustainable travel businesses designed to benefit local communities and local activists dedicated to the conservation of their forests and to provide genuine community-based natural tourism experiences to the visitors. She was a research professor at Seoul National University, researching topics related to protected areas management and sustainable tourism. She has actively participated in numerous ecotourism and protected area projects in Korea and abroad since she got her Ph.D. degree at Seoul National University in 1999. She is acknowledged as the top expert in South Korea on certification for ecotourism, called upon regularly by top government ministries, local authorities, NGO’s, etc. for research and guidance on standards, certification, and compliance. Since 2002 she has worked on introducing and developing the Korean ecotourism certification program that uses GSTC-recognized standards. She was also in charge of the development of Korean Sustainable City Tourism Standard that also got GSTC-recognized and the development of Chinese Rural Tourism Standard.
Nicola Koschel serves on the Accreditation Panel on behalf of WWF. She is an independent tourism consultant based in Germany with a focus on the sustainable development and environmental management of tourism. After graduating from a BBA in Tourism Management and Consultancy (NHTV-NL) she obtained a Master in Sustainable Tourism Management (HNEE-DE). Since 2007 Nicola has worked with and for NGOs, specialist researchers, federal ministries, the German Development Cooperation, the European Commission as well as by order of renowned consultancy firms. Her work portfolio involves product and destination development, feasibility studies, project evaluation, consumer market research, design of appropriate marketing strategies and the organization of study trips, tourism awards, and conferences. She is also a member of GSTC’s International Standards Working Group.
Richard is Director of The Tourism Company, a small specialist tourism consultancy based in the UK. Following a degree in Economics from Cambridge University and a doctorate based on tourism research, Richard worked for ten years as development and marketing director for the tourist board in central England. He has been a consultant since 1990 and has worked in over fifty countries. In 2005 he wrote the policy guide Making Tourism More Sustainable for UNEP and UNWTO, and has continued to work with them and a number of international agencies on sustainability issues, including the preparation of various good practice guides. Richard has worked at a local level with many destinations around the world and has a particular interest in tourism in protected areas. In 2009/10 he undertook the initial work on developing the accreditation process for the predecessor body to the GSTC. Richard is a former Board Director of The International Ecotourism Society and serves on the Advisory Committee of the Travel Foundation.
A native of Costa Rica, Ronald Sanabria has worked with the tourism industry on certification, productivity, quality assurance and sustainability since 1992. He joined the Rainforest Alliance in 1998, first working with the Sustainable Agriculture Division. Two years later, he began leading the development of the Sustainable Tourism program. Ronald has coordinated projects in a dozen Latin American countries, supporting sustainable tourism training and technical assistance for hundreds of tourism businesses and community-based operations while also connecting them with the marketplace. He led the creation of the Sustainable Tourism Certification Network of the Americas (STCNA) and chaired its secretariat from 2003 to 2010. He assisted the creation of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and sat on its board of directors from 2010 to 2012. Currently, as an independent consultant, he supports governmental and UN agencies, conservation NGOs (including the Rainforest Alliance) and tourism companies in sustainability-related projects. Since 1992, he has taught at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Costa Rica. A Fulbright scholar, Ronald holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Costa Rica and an M.A. in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University.
Dr. Xavier Font
Dr. Xavier Font is a professor of sustainability marketing at the University of Surrey. He develops methods of sustainable tourism production and consumption for the tourism and hospitality industries. He has conducted around 100 courses for more than 1500 businesses on how to market and communicate sustainability, see www.travindy.com. He is the most published academic in the world in sustainable tourism certification, having consulted on this subject for UNEP, UNCTAD, UNWTO, IFC, EC, VisitEngland, Fáilte Ireland, WWF and the Travel Foundation amongst others.