GSTC Recognized

GSTC-Recognized means that a sustainable tourism standard has been deemed equivalent to the GSTC Criteria for sustainable tourism and is administered by a standard owner that meets GSTC requirements. This designation is made by GSTC’s expert, independent Accreditation Panel. This means that the GSTC has verified that the standard aligns with the GSTC Criteria and that any additional clauses do not contradict GSTC Criteria requirements.

GSTC-Recognized does NOT mean that the Certifying Body using the standard is accredited. This designation relates only to the words included in the standard, and NOT how the standard is applied.

Who can apply?

Any entity that has developed or owns the rights to a sustainable tourism standard can apply for recognition. The standard must take into account the socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental impacts of tourism, both positive and negative, as well as sustainable management. This can be a certification or verification program, standardization body, hotel chain, tour operator for its commercialization chain, etc. In other words, any organization that has developed a standard that can be verified in a hotel, tour operator, or related activity.

Why Apply?

The purpose of the GSTC Integrity Program 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. The GSTC Criteria are the foundation of the GSTC Integrity Program, which begins with GSTC-Recognized providing a level of credibility, followed in turn with GSTC-Approved or GSTC-Accredited status.


  • International credibility that the certification is Recognized as a standard that aligns with universal criteria for sustainable management, social and economic benefits to the local community, cultural heritage preservation and the reduction of pollution.
  • Individual certified hotels will be included in a GSTC index that will be promoted to online travel agencies (OTAs) including,,, and; and offline to various travel providers to use for purposes of preferential buying
  • Qualification for GSTC-Accreditation or Approval of the certification program
  • Announcement of achievement in GSTC newsletter, GSTC website, and GSTC social media outlets


Standard owner submits an application to the GSTC technical team for review.  The GSTC team evaluates the standard against the GSTC Criteria. If the standard meets GSTC requirements, a report is prepared and sent to the GSTC Accreditation Panel for final review and approval. If the standard does not meet the requirements the standard owner will be informed and an attempt will be made to help them meet the requirements.  If the non-conformities cannot be remedied, the Accreditation Panel will decline the petition.  Standard owners can resubmit once they have complied with the requirements.

Standard owners will be notified via email or regular post whether their standard has been recognized, recognized with conditions for future improvement, or rejected with an explanation of the areas that must be improved.

GSTC Recognition Manual

Download the GSTC Recognition Manual

GSTC Recognition Applications

Download Application for Recognition of Standards for Destinations

Download Application for Recognition of Standards for Hotel and Tour Operators


Download the current price sheet

To submit your application

…or for more information, contact the GSTC Technical Director at