The Destination Sustainability Comprehensive is an opportunity for destination managers to learn their current status according to the leading international standard, the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria for Destinations. The GSTC Sustainability Comprehensive involves up to 10 days in the destination, including site visits, detailed analysis of the destination’s documented policies, and intensive liaison with destination managers and engagement with the widest practicable range of stakeholders. An experienced GSTC destination expert guides destination managers through the GSTC Destination Criteria and Indicators, identifying best practices in destination management, economic, cultural, and environmental sustainability, and highlighting opportunities for growth.

First, the GSTC guides the destination in mapping principal stakeholders and destination documents along the GSTC Criteria. The GSTC expert will liaise with the destination in planning the program for the Sustainability Comprehensive on the basis of this preliminary information.

Then, the GSTC expert will work onsite in the destination for up to 10 days. To begin, the GSTC expert holds a workshop with destination managers, to introduce stakeholders to the Comprehensive guided Criteria application process and its goals. Through the onsite period, the expert conducts interviews and focus group meetings with key destination stakeholders. Additionally, the GSTC expert conducts a comprehensive check of destination policy documents and conducts site visits, to review the destination’s current compliance with the GSTC Destination Criteria.

Throughout the GSTC Comprehensive application of the Criteria, the GSTC expert works with the nominated destination team, building stakeholder capacity and inspiring improved performance.

Before departure from the destination, the GSTC expert holds a closing workshop to present to destination managers the preliminary conclusions from application of the GSTC Criteria, and ensure stakeholder understanding and validation of findings. In addition to the GSTC expert, the CEO or Chair of the GSTC attends the results presentation via video/teleconference. This final presentation is ideal for key executive/policy decision makers in the destination to reinforce destination sustainability concepts and experience first-hand the outcomes of GSTC Criteria application to their destination.

Within four weeks of the onsite visit, the GSTC expert provides the destination a Comprehensive Report, setting out:

  • The destination’s current status of compliance with the GSTC Destinations Criteria, in the areas of:
    • Sustainability management and governance
    • Economic benefits for the destination
    • Community engagement and cultural preservation
    • Environmental protection and governance
  • Key sustainability challenges for the destination
  • The destination’s best practices in sustainable destination management.
  • Destination specific recommendations for achievement of the GSTC Criteria for Destinations.

The GSTC Comprehensive is recommended for destinations that have made a public commitment to sustainable tourism development—or as a preparatory step for destinations that are considering sustainability certification.  Recognizing that true sustainability is a journey for all destinations and not a clearly achievable milestone, the GSTC Comprehensive outlines good practices and recommendations for improvement based on the destination’s specific needs, rather than a pass/fail score.

Those destinations that have previously undergone GSTC Comprehensive application of the GSTC Criteria have used the process to catalyze stakeholder commitment, forge new destination management structures, and clarify priorities for improved policies and programs. Destinations also have noted increased stakeholder collaboration, shared ownership over sustainability performance, and compelling storylines for marketing and communications as a result of the GSTC Comprehensive.

The fee for the GSTC Comprehensive is $19,900 USD for GSTC Members ($20,900 USD non-members), plus travel, accommodation, and incidental costs for the onsite work. Tailored pricing may be available for developing destinations. Please contact the GSTC for pricing information.

If interested in becoming a “GSTC Destination,” or participating in a GSTC Comprehensive with a GSTC expert, please contact GSTC Destinations Program Director Kathleen Pessolano, at