Achieve GSTC Recognition of a Set of Standards or System

GSTC Recognized

GSTC-Recognized means that a sustainable tourism standard or system has been deemed equivalent to the GSTC Criteria for sustainable tourism and is administered by a standard/system owner that meets GSTC requirements. This designation is made by GSTC’s independent Assurance 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.

The GSTC considers it desirable for all sustainable tourism standards and systems to be aligned with the GSTC Criteria to ensure that an overall global baseline is set for sustainable tourism. The GSTC Criteria are developed and maintained according to the principles laid out in the Standards Setting Code of the ISEAL Alliance, utilizing a highly inclusive development process that produces globally-relevant outcomes.

GSTC-Recognized does NOT mean that the owner of the standard or system is accredited. In other words, Recognition is of the set of standards or a system, not of an organization or a certification scheme.

Who can apply?

The owner of any standard or system that is applied to more than one organizational unit. Those standards can be applied in a variety of manners: for training, education, and awareness; for a certification or verification program, for internal hotel chain programs, tour operator for its commercialization chain, etc.

Why Apply?

The GSTC Criteria are regarded as universal standards for sustainable tourism, developed by a rigorous and highly inclusive process, meaning that complying with them adds a layer of credibility to other standards.

Well-known standards have already been recognized:


  • International credibility that the standard 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.
  • Participation in GSTC’s Market Access program, which may include promotion of the standard; and may include Individual certified hotels in lists that are shared with prominent online travel agencies (OTA’s) and offline to various travel providers to use for purposes of preferential buying
    * this is relevant only to standards used for 3rd-party verification, not for internal standards/systems
  • Qualification for GSTC Accreditation of the certification program
  • Announcement of achievement in GSTC newsletter, GSTC website, and GSTC social media outlets


The standard owner submits an application to the GSTC technical team for review. There is an optional consultation with a GSTC Technical Director prior to the submission of an application.

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 Assurance 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 Assurance Panel will decline the petition. Standard owners can resubmit once they have complied with the requirements.

Standard owners will be notified via email 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

The GSTC Recognition Manual guides the processes and procedures whereby owners of other sustainable tourism standards voluntarily seek formal verification by GSTC that their standard includes and complies with the GSTC Criteria.

Download GSTC Recognition Manual v5.0

Download Interpretation Document 2021INT01 RMv5.0 for clarification of the scope of GSTC Recognition.

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

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