Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and Tour Operators’ Initiative (TOI) Join Forces

Merger creates global champion in sustainable travel and tourism

Madrid, Spain, 22 December 2014 – The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and the Tour Operators’ Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development (TOI) announce their merger, as approved by the boards of directors of each organization.


“While retaining our vital DNA as a neutral and independent arbiter of standards for sustainability in travel and tourism, which is well established in our bylaws and organizational structure, the GSTC from our inception has welcomed the participation of all subsectors within travel and tourism,” said Randy Durband, GSTC’s CEO. “Tour operators uniquely touch all facets of the tourism value chain and therefore can play a vital role in the enhancement of sustainability throughout it.”

“This is a major step forward that reinforces the partnership between players from all horizons who all share a vision that travel and tourism is a powerful weapon to fight poverty, while working at preserving the environment and conserving heritage and culture,” said Michel Lemay, Chairman of TOI.

GSTC Chair of the Board Luigi Cabrini states: “With the GSTC as the global leader in setting standards for sustainability in travel and tourism, and TOI’s focus on the tour operator value chain and synchronization with destinations, the combination of both organizations and their respective strengths will produce a true global champion in sustainable tourism. The mission will remain to develop, promote, and encourage the implementation of credible standards and best practices so that travel and tourism remains the major economic engine it already is, all over the world, in harmony with communities and the environment.”

The organization will maintain the name Global Sustainable Tourism Council and will continue the legacy of TOI through its working groups and its Destination Program, among other means. UNWTO and UN Environmental Program (UNEP) will retain permanent seats on the board of the GSTC, with current members of TOI becoming members of the GSTC. This formidable list includes TUI Group, current member of both the GSTC and TOI and represented by Jane Ashton, who serves on the board of directors of both organizations. Andreas Mueseler, currently TOI’s Vice-Chairman and a founding member, joins the board of GSTC.


About GSTC

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is a global initiative dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism efforts around the world. The GSTC is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit that works to expand understanding of and access to sustainable tourism practices; helps identify and generate markets for sustainable tourism; and educates about and advocates for a set of universal principles, as defined by the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria. The Criteria, a set of voluntary principles that provide a framework for the sustainability of tourism businesses across the globe, is the cornerstone of our initiative. For more information, visit

About TOI

Established in 2000, the Tour Operators’ Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development (TOI) encourages tour operators and travel companies to make a commitment to sustainable development by adopting best practices in the management of environmental, social and economic issues, and working hand in hand with destinations. It is supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

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