What is the difference between Certification, Accreditation, and Recognition?

GSTC is involved in Certification of businesses, Accreditation of certification bodies, and Recognition of standards.

What is Certification?

Certification is defined as a voluntary, third-party assessment, through an audit, of a tourism enterprise or destination for conformity to a standard. GSTC does NOT conduct certification. That is the job of the many Certification Bodies throughout the world; our job is to accredit those that certify.

What is Accreditation?

Accreditation is a mark of quality that GSTC places on Certification Bodies that choose our independent and neutral process to verify that they certify businesses, such as hotels or tour operators, or destinations, in a competent and neutral manner. GSTC looks very hard at the CB’s process of certification to ensure you that they issue certifications based on merit and neutrality.

What is GSTC Recognition?

GSTC Recognition is NOT a mark like accreditation; rather it is a status GSTC provides to a set of standards that are equivalent to the GSTC Criteria. This does NOT relate to the process of certification, nor to accreditation. Why is this important? Because it shows that the set of standards are based on the 4 pillars of the GSTC Criteria: Environment, Social, Cultural, and Management principles.


In short, the difference between Certification Accreditation and Recognition:

  • Certification = a third-party assessment of a tourism enterprise or destination to a standard
  • Accreditation = an intensive verification of a process of certification
  • Recognition = verification by GSTC that the set of standards used by standard owners is equivalent to the GSTC Criteria

More Information About Certification

For more information on becoming certified:

More Information About About GSTC-Accredited Certification Bodies

For more information on the current GSTC Accredited Certification Bodies:

More Information About GSTC-Recognized Standards ​

For more information on the current GSTC-Recognized Standards: