GSTC Industry Criteria
for Hotels & Tour Operators

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Criteria were created to provide a common understanding throughout the world of “sustainable tourism”, and are the minimum that any tourism business should aspire to reach. They are organized around four main themes: effective sustainability planning, maximizing social and economic benefits for the local community, enhancing cultural heritage, and reducing negative impacts to the environment. They have applicability to the entire tourism industry.

The Criteria have been developed and revised while striving to adhere to the Standard-Setting Code of the ISEAL Alliance, the body recognized to provide guidance on international norms for developing sustainability standards in all sectors.

The GSTC Industry Criteria (GSTC-I) is the 3rd version of the GSTC Criteria for the Tourism Industry. The first version (GSTC-H&TOv1) was released in 2008, and the second version (GSTC-H&TOv2) was released in 2012. The Revision Report is available for those that wish to examine the main changes made from the H&TOv2 Criteria to the Industry Criteria.

Some of the uses of the criteria include the following:

  • Serve as the basis for certification for sustainability
  • Serve as basic guidelines for businesses of all sizes to become more sustainable, and help businesses choose sustainable tourism programs that fulfill these global criteria
  • Provide greater market access in the growing market for sustainable products, serving as guidance both for travelers and for travel agencies in choosing suppliers and sustainable tourism programmes
  • Help consumers identify sound sustainable tourism programs and businesses
  • Serve as a common denominator for information media to recognize sustainable tourism providers
  • Help certification and other voluntary programs ensure that their standards meet a broadly-accepted baseline
  • Offer governmental, non-governmental, and private sector programs a starting point for developing sustainable tourism requirements
  • Serve as basic guidelines for education and training bodies, such as hotel schools and universities
  • Demonstrate leadership that inspires others to act

The GSTC Criteria indicate what should be done, not how to do it or whether the goal has been achieved. This role is fulfilled by performance indicators, associated educational materials, and access to tools for implementation, all of which are an indispensable complement to the GSTC Criteria.

The GSTC Industry Criteria has two sets of suggested Performance Indicators:

GSTC Industry Criteria
+ suggested performance indicators
for Hotels

The performance indicators presented are designed to provide guidance in measuring compliance with the GSTC Industry Criteria for Hotels.

GSTC Industry Criteria for “Hotels”

GSTC Industry Criteria
+ suggested performance indicators
for Tour Operators

The performance indicators presented are designed to provide guidance in measuring compliance with the GSTC Industry Criteria for Tour Operators.

GSTC Industry Criteria for “Tour Operators”

GSTC Destination Criteria

There are two sets of the GSTC Criteria. The second set is the GSTC Destination Criteria, which relates to sustainable management of Tourism Destinations.
GSTC Destination Criteria

GSTC Criteria Translations

The GSTC Criteria are used for a variety of applications (education and awareness-raising, policy-making for businesses and government agencies and other organization types, measurement and evaluation, and as a basis for certification). Therefore, the GSTC Criteria have been translated into many languages, available to the public to download on the GSTC website:
Translations of the GSTC Criteria in other languages

Sustainable Tourism Glossary

GSTC has compiled a glossary in order to combat possible confusion as well as provide additional clarity to many of the concepts illustrated in the GSTC Criteria.
GSTC Sustainable Tourism Glossary: Definitions of Important Terms

Commercial use of the GSTC Criteria

The GSTC encourages broad use and application of the GSTC Criteria, which are available from this website free of charge for their non-commercial use. However, the GSTC reserves the right to assess and charge fees for the commercial use of the GSTC Criteria.