The Global Sustainable Tourism Council® (GSTC®) is pleased to announce that Ecostars Standard has gained GSTC-Recognized status, meaning the standard has been recognized as an equivalent standard to the GSTC Industry Criteria.

Ecostars is a hotel-specific sustainability program that awards eco-stars based on a hotel’s environmental impact per stay. Ecostars is relevant for both small independent accommodations and some of the world’s most important chains, proving the versatility and applicability of its award program. Entire chains, such as H10, Vincci, Abba, Rocco Forte, Catalonia, Ilunion or Lisbon Heritage Hotels, are fully awarded by Ecostars, and individual hotels from renowned chains like Marriott, Mandarin, Hilton, Accor, Novotel, Meliá, and Barceló have also earned their Ecostars. 

The GSTC-Recognized status refers to the standard itself, indicating that a sustainable tourism standard or system has been reviewed by GSTC technical experts and the GSTC Assurance Panel and deemed the content of the standard or system equivalent to the GSTC Criteria for sustainable tourism. It shows that the set of criteria is based on the four pillars of the GSTC Criteria: Sustainable Management, Socioeconomic, Cultural, and Environmental principles. 

GSTC Recognition of Standards does not relate to the process of certification (which is a third-party assessment, through an audit, of a tourism enterprise for conformity to a standard). GSTC Recognition of Standards does not relate to accreditation ( formal verification that a certification body operates in a competent and neutral manner according to international standards of how to properly certify, which is the highest level of assurance).

The stated scope of the GSTC Recognition of the Ecostars Standard is hotels and accommodation properties and coverage is global. The GSTC Recognition is valid until either the standard or the GSTC Industry Criteria are changed. The GSTC Recognition has an additional time limitation that by 31 December 2024, owners of existing GSTC-Recognized Standards need to pursue accreditation.

“We are extremely happy to have gained GSTC Recognition status for our standards. This is a critical milestone in our aspirations of becoming the largest hotel sustainability certification globally and keep helping both large chains and small independent hotels to become more sustainable and reduce their negative impact on the environment, stakeholders and surrounding. Ecostars has been a GSTC member since 2021 and now gaining this recognition is a proud achievement for us.” says Jose Luis Santos, Ecostars CEO.

“Applying the Four Pillars of the GSTC Criteria means taking a holistic approach to sustainability per the UN definition of the term. This goes beyond environmental issues to include community impacts, many social and cultural issues, and getting the management and governance structures in place to pursue continuous improvement,” says Randy Durband, GSTC CEO.

Currently, 14 destination standards, 20 tour operator standards, 40 hotel standards, and 5 systems have achieved GSTC-Recognized status. The status offers the market 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 follow and complete the accreditation process, which assures that the certification process used to apply the standard meets international best practices, transparency, and rigor. A list of GSTC-Accredited certification bodies is available here

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 national and provincial governments, leading travel companies, hotels, tour operators, NGO’s, individuals and communities – all striving to achieve best practices in sustainable tourism. 

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About Ecostars

Ecostars® is a hotel-specific sustainability program that awards eco-stars based on a hotel’s environmental impact per stay.

The Ecostars awarding process is entirely digital by leveraging on advanced technology, which makes the application process simpler for hotels. Ecostars is a GSTC member and its standards have gained GSTC Recognition status. Ecostars also collaborates with UNWTO and has received its recognition due to its innovative process. Finally, Ecostars is also a certified B Corp.

1,500+ hotels in 30+ countries have already been awarded with an Ecostars certification.

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