Hostelworld, the Online Travel Agent for the hostelling category, unveiled a new framework dedicated to communicating and elevating sustainability practices in the industry, marking a significant step towards a greener future for travel.

Developed in partnership with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), the ‘Staircase to Sustainability’ framework introduces a first of its kind universal measurement system tailored for hostels which addresses the sector’s unique challenges and opportunities. 

Built-in line with the GSTC Criteria, the framework is divided into 4 pillars: 

Hostels, by design, can be a sustainable accommodation option for travelers. Their shared accommodation spaces result in numerous sustainable advantages: reduced water and electricity consumption, shared kitchens considerably reducing food, plastic and packaging waste. Beyond these environmental considerations, hostels play a vital role in acting as community guardians, actively promoting authentic local experiences, showcasing local artists, purchasing from local suppliers and community volunteering events that contribute to the betterment of the locality.

New research from Bureau Veritas and Hostelworld highlights that hostels are leading the way in providing a sustainable accommodation option for travelers, revealing that hostels emit 82% less carbon compared to hotel counterparts. View here the report ‘Understanding the carbon impact of hostels vs hotels 2023 (2nd edition),’ conducted by Bureau Veritas in partnership with Hostelword. The first edition of the report can be found here.

A survey by Hostelworld of their hostel partners revealed that although 85% of hostels either participate in sustainability initiatives or have expressed interest in doing so, they face challenges in communicating their efforts and the impact of their existing sustainability practices. 

Recognizing the need for formal recognition in a sector that is already deeply committed to sustainability, the ‘Staircase to Sustainability’ framework aims to provide hostels with a clear pathway to communicate their sustainability management practices, as well as acknowledge their socio-economic, cultural and environmental impact.  

Hostelworld Joins Forces with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) to Create a New Sustainability Framework for the Hostel Industry Divided into four levels and aligning directly with the GSTC Criteria, the ‘Staircase to Sustainability’ is designed to not only help hostels identify any gaps in their current sustainability practices and guide them to moving up the ‘staircase’ to secure a formal certification, but to also celebrate the incredible work already being done in the category. Hostels that sign up to the framework will be subject to third-party auditing, from level two upwards, speaking to the high standard it sets for participating hostels. 

The framework also serves as an accessible guide for the climate-conscious traveler looking to make informed choices when selecting accommodation, removing hours of research as well as any potential guesswork. For every level of criteria achieved, a hostel will be awarded the relevant sustainability Badge on Hostelworld’s website. Travelers can now also search for sustainable hostels using Hostelworld’s new sustainability filter.

Commenting on the launch of the ‘Staircase to Sustainability,’ Caroline Sherry, CFO and ESG Lead at Hostelworld said: “While there is a sustainability framework for hotels, our hostel partners have voiced that the existing frameworks do not adequately address the unique characteristics of the independent hostel market. This is why over the past 18 months we’ve dedicated our time, working in close partnership with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, to craft this pioneering framework for the hostelling sector. The unwavering support and willingness of the GSTC to deep dive into the distinct needs of hostels has been instrumental in shaping this framework.”

Randy Durband, GSTC CEO, commented on the new framework: “Hostels have historically been, and continue to be, an excellent sustainable option when traveling. We congratulate Hostelworld for this framework in line with the GSTC Criteria. Having hostels continue on their sustainability path in a comprehensive, step-by-step, and achievable manner is a commitment to a more sustainable future.”

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