The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is pleased to announce that the Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) Standard 2.0 for Lodging and Tour Operators in Costa Rica has achieved the ‘GSTC-Recognized Standard’ status.

The Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST), established by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute in 1997, was created to provide guidelines for hotel properties and service providers to build their business model based on the best sustainable tourism practices – the management and impact of the natural, cultural and social resources of the country. CST has a validity of two years and the criteria and indicators that are valued to award certification include: business management; social, cultural and economic management; environmental management; and the management of specific indicators according to category.

Achieving the GSTC-Recognized status means that a sustainable tourism standard has been reviewed by GSTC technical experts and the GSTC Accreditation Panel and deemed equivalent to the GSTC Criteria for sustainable tourism. Additionally, an organization that meets GSTC requirements must administer the standard.

“CST is a well established certification program with a clever scheme of market incentives for participating businesses,” says Randy Durband, GSTC CEO. “We’re pleased that the standards driving that program comply with the GSTC Criteria and as such have formally re-gained GSTC-Recognized status.”

“As global leaders in sustainability, we are honored to receive the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s recognition for the Certification of Sustainable Tourism Standard. Established more than 20 years ago by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute, the program is a result of the public and private sector’s collaborative efforts to recognize tourism companies for their sustainable tourism practices. Today, more than 400 tourism companies retain the certification,” says Gustavo Segura, Costa Rica’s Minister of Tourism.

Currently, 11 destination standards, 33 hotel standards, and 31 tour operator standards have achieved GSTC-Recognized status. The status offers the market a proof that these standards adhere to international norms. GSTC Recognition does not ensure that a certification process is reliable, only that the set of standards used to certify are equivalent to the GSTC Criteria. GSTC-Recognized standard owners are encouraged to complete the accreditation process, which assures that the certification process used to apply the standard meets international best practice, transparent, and rigor. List of GSTC-Accredited certification bodies is available here.

Clarification on Terminology

In a few articles, it was incorrectly mentioned that “Costa Rica obtained the GSTC Award”. There is no such thing as “GSTC Award”, the GSTC Recognition of the CST Standard is not an award.

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.

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. Our partner accreditation body – Assurance Services International (ASI) – looks very hard at the CB’s process of certification to ensure you that they issue certifications based on merit and neutrality.

GSTC Recognition of Standards = is a status GSTC provides to a set of standards, or a system, that includes the GSTC Criteria within their standard. 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.

About the GSTC

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) establishes and manages global sustainable standards, known as the GSTC Criteria. There are two sets: Destination Criteria for public policy-makers and destination managers, and Industry Criteria for hotels and tour operators. These are the guiding principles and minimum requirements that any tourism business or destination should aspire to reach in order to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources, while ensuring tourism meets its potential as a tool for conservation and poverty alleviation.

The GSTC Criteria form the foundation for Accreditation of Certification Bodies that certify hotels/accommodations, tour operators, and destinations as having sustainable policies and practices in place. GSTC does not directly certify any products or services; but it accredits those that do. The GSTC is an independent and neutral USA-registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization that represents a diverse and global membership, including UN agencies, NGO’s, national and provincial governments, leading travel companies, hotels, tour operators, individuals and communities – all striving to achieve best practices in sustainable tourism.

Information for media and the press: https://www.gstcouncil.org/about/for-the-press/

About the ICT

The Costa Rican Tourism Board / Costa Rican Tourism Institute (Spanish: Instituto Costarricense de Turismo – ICT) is the government agency responsible for promoting sustainable tourism in Costa Rica. The ICT aims to strengthen the Costa Rican sustainable tourism development model through the definition of public policies, alliances, programs, and projects to encourage competitiveness, sustainability, equity, solidarity, and a pleasant stay for tourists, always looking to improve the living standards of Costa Ricans. Its vision is to consolidate as the governing tourism entity in Costa Rica by 2021, guaranteeing a supportive and equitable sustainable tourism development model that uses innovation, the development of its workforce, and effective public management to promote new opportunities for tourism development that helps improve the competitiveness and the life quality that as a nation we aspire for.

For more information: https://www.ict.go.cr/en/sustainability/cst.html