Becoming Certified as a Sustainable Hotel/Accommodation

Increasingly, travelers and your fellow travel provider clients are seeking confirmation that sustainability practices are in place (Booking.com Sustainability Report 2021). Also increasingly, travel companies are looking for a product that is not only certified sustainable, but certified sustainable by a Certification Body that is GSTC Accredited (Trivago recommendation).

Being certified by an Accredited Certification Body means that your tourism product or service complies with the highest social and environmental standards on the market. As public concern grows about the harmful effects and the positive impacts of travel and tourism, certification provides you a credible solution to complex environmental and social issues. Businesses certified by a GSTC-Accredited Certification Body, meeting all the GSTC Criteria (or a GSTC-Recognized Standard), have the highest level of assurance* and credibility available. With an accredited certification, customers and buyers are assured that the business was certified in a credibly verified procedure in a transparent, impartial, and competent manner.

Logo for businesses certified to the GSTC Criteria

Travel providers should proudly display information regarding their certificate and the certification body that issued it. Doing so informs your stakeholders — from customers to ownership and to your supply chain — that your business is operated with sound management that looks to the future and not merely at today. Businesses certified by a GSTC-Accredited Certification Body can display a unique GSTC logo with a traceable code.

Many owners and buyers of hotel spaces use the GSTC framework and highlight those accommodations certified by GSTC Accredited CBs. Here are a few of them:

  • Hilton: “We continue to identify opportunities to achieve GSTC certification for our hotels to ensure the sustainability of our operations.”
  • TUI Group “encourages all hotels offered to its 27 million customers to obtain certification that meets the GSTC Criteria.”
  • easyJet holidays “is focused on supporting tourism destinations by committing to encouraging 100% of its contracted hotels to achieve certification by a GSTC-Accredited Certification body […] by the end of 2025.”
  • AMEX GBT “will highlight hotels and other accommodation partners as “sustainable” that meet GSTC’s standards or, even better, are certified by a GSTC-Accredited Certification Body.”
  • Booking.com is currently highlighting hotels certified by GSTC-Accredited CBs along with other standards that are Recognized by GSTC.
  • Türkiye Tourism Promotion and Development Agency (TGA) with guidance from the GSTC, has developed the first mandatory national program for accommodations based on the GSTC Criteria and GSTC Assurance program. From 2022 through 2030, all accommodations Türkiye must be certified through a GSTC-Accredited Certification Body.
  • Singapore Tourism Board announced the launch of the Hotel Sustainability Roadmap. By 2025 its goal is for 60% of hotel room stock to achieve hotel sustainability certification through a GSTC-Accredited Certification Body.
  • By 2025 all Mandarin Oriental properties will be GSTC-Certified.

How to become certified as a Sustainable Hotel

To become certified, travel and tourism companies and touristic destinations must:

1 – Choose a Certification Body (CB) from the list below — these are organizations that have been accredited based on the quality of their certification process

2 – After working with a CB towards achieving full GSTC requirements compliance, your operation will receive its Certification by an Accredited CB.

The Certification Bodies listed below have gained Accreditation to certify hotels as sustainable. As such, these Certification Bodies and their certificate-holders are authorized to display the designated GSTC Logo (upon completion of a licensing agreement with the GSTC).

To be clear: GSTC does NOT certify anything. GSTC provides accreditation to Certification Bodies. Certification and accreditation are different things: see here for more information about these terms.

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GSTC Accredited Certification Bodies for Hotel/Accommodation

Bureau Veritas

Bureau Veritas is a world leader in testing, inspection and certification services. Since its creation in 1828, Bureau Veritas has been supporting its clients on every continent to continually improve their performance via certification of management systems, product certifications and customized audits. The Group has more than 78,000 employees located in more than 1,500 offices and laboratories around the globe. Bureau Veritas helps its clients improve their performance by offering services and innovative solutions, in order to ensure that their assets, products, infrastructure and processes meet standards and regulations in terms of quality, health and safety, environmental protection and social responsibility.

To be certified by Bureau Veritas, contact BV directly at webchina@bureauveritas.com or visit the following link to get Certified by Bureau Veritas.

Control Union

control unionControl Union Certifications offers a global one-stop-shop for a wide range of certification programmes with a global presence that spans more than 70 countries in six continents. We understand the importance of impartiality and objectivity, and how to professionally manage conflicts of interest. From the beginning, sustainability has been the main focus of our certification services. Control Union Certifications presents a wide range of programmes in agriculture, food, feed, forest products, textiles, bio-energy, and tourism.  In 2016, Control Union Certifications became the first Accredited CB for the GSTC Criteria for Hotels and Tour Operators, and currently work with a dedicated sustainable tourism team on GSTC Certification, providing the highest level in terms of credibility within the GSTC Assurance Program. This means that Control Union Certifications can certify hotels and tour operators directly against the GSTC Criteria.

To be certified by Control Union, contact Seth Wang, General Manager directly at sethzy@controlunion.com or visit this link to Get Certified by Control Union.

RoyalCert

RoyalCert  is a reputable certification body based in Germany, operating in 25 countries globally. RoyalCert offer assessment and certification services to a wide range of industries, including Tourism Industry, and serving thousands of customers. RoyalCert core strength lies in their experienced auditors, who have over 20 years of auditing expertise. The company is committed to sustainable growth and adheres to high ethical standards, focusing on integrity and customer satisfaction. By partnering with RoyalCert, customers can improve their operations, enhance business performance, and make a positive impact on society and the environment.

To get certified by RoyalCert, contact RoyalCert directly at info@royalcert.com.

United Certification Systems Limited

UCSL United Certification Systems Limited is an independent international certification body with Headquarters in EU and operating globally (except Türkiye). UCSL  is accredited for various volunteer sustainability certification schemes including Hotels & Tour Operators (GSTC), Marine (ASC, MSC), Global Sustainable Enterprise System (GSES) etc. The team of certification body involves numerous experts and professionals with vast local and international experience in the auditing and sustainability sector. UCSL aims to contribute to the UN SDGs, environmental well-being of the planet through provision of excellent services to like-minded sustainable businesses.

Visit the following link to get Certified by UCSL.

Vireo Srl

Vireo Srl is a certification company whose commercial activities consist of providing Italian and foreign companies with environmental certification services. Vireo provides worldwide recognized environmental certification schemes such as FSC, MSC, and GSTC – as a GSTC-Accredited certification body. The professional approach and deep knowledge of standards are the key elements that mark Viero’s services. Based in Padova, Italy, Vireo has international experience and works with professional and highly qualified auditors.

To be certified by Vireo Srl, contact Vireo directly at info@vireosrl.it or visit the following link to get Certified by Vireo Srl.

Mauritius Standards Bureau: Blue Oasis

The Mauritius Standards Bureau (MSB) is a non-profit parastatal body in the island of Mauritius that certifies Hotels & Accommodations and Tour Operators operating within the Mauritian jurisdiction and territories, as per the GSTC-Recognized Standard MS 165 (Sustainable Tourism Management System) labelled as the Blue Oasis. MSB holds a prominent regional and international presence, contributing to standardization and conformity assessment bodies. The paramount goal of MSB is to drive industrial advancement and foster economic expansion in Mauritius, by boosting the local tourism industry towards sustainability.

If your Accommodation/Hotel is located in Mauritius, visit the following link to get Certified by MSB.

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Note:

  • The above Certification Bodies have been Accredited for compliance with the requirements of the Manual for GSTC Accreditation. GSTC-Accredited mean that the certification procedures largely meet international standards for transparency, impartiality, and competence.
  • Certification by a Certification Body whose standard is “GSTC Recognized” does NOT carry the same meaning as certification by a Certification Body that is accredited by GSTC. “GSTC Recognized” relates to a published set of standards and NOT to the process of certification or accreditation.
  • List of standards that are recognized by the GSTC as adhering to the GSTC Criteria is available here.

* Note: General assurance levels:

3rd-party certification by an Accredited Certification Body (impartiality is certain)
3rd-party verification (impartiality is not certain)
2nd-party verification (not impartial)
1st-party self-assessment No verification at all