The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) recently announced that Japan Ecolodge Association (ECOLA) has attained the organization’s ‘recognized’ certification status for its Japan Environmentally Sustainable Accommodations International Standard (ESAIS). The awarded status benchmarks its public commitment to promote sustainable tourism products and services recognized by the GSTC.

ECOLA has committed to using the GSTC Criteria – the first and only global framework for defining a sustainable travel benchmark – as the reference for its sustainable travel criteria. Rigorous review and authorization procedures have determined that ESAIS’ standards are considered equivalent to the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria; the worldwide minimum requirement for tourism businesses of all size to approach sustainability.

“We have been working hard for seven years to promote the authentic

eco-lodging industry based in Japan but faced many difficulties and had limited resources,” said Masaru Takayama, executive director of ECOLA. “Now that we are internationally recognized, we hope to grow together with the rest of the world and spearhead the Asian eco-lodging industry.”

Thirteen bodies (including ECOLA) have received the GSTC-recognized status including:

·      Austrian Ecolabel for Tourism  (Österreichisches Umweltzeichen)

·      Biosphere Responsible Tourism

·      Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) for hotels

·      EarthCheck Company Standard

·      Eco-Certification Malta

·      Ecotourism Australia's ecotourism standard

·      Ecotourism Australia's advanced ecotourism standard

·      Ecotourism Ireland Certification Programme

·      European Ecotourism Labeling Standard (EETLS)

·      Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA)

·      Rainforest Alliance standard for tourism operations

·      Sustainable Tourism Eco-Certification Program (STEP)

·      Travelife Sustainability System for Hotels and Accommodations

·      Japan Environmentally Sustainable Accommodations International Standard (ESAIS)

Each of the GSTC-recognized organizations has taken the first of three steps in establishing the GSTC process. Phases of establishing the global benchmark include recognizing the GSTC standard; evaluation of certification process for transparency by a third party; full GSTC-accreditation (beginning December 2014).

“We are excited to recognize ECOLA’s contribution to sustainability,” said Leilani Latimer, Director, Sustainability Initiatives, Sabre Holdings and GSTC Board Member. “GSTC recognition provides the sustainable travel options that travelers appreciate.”

The GSTC will continue to work with standard owners around the world to provide GSTC recognition. All standards are encouraged to apply for GSTC-recognized status and all certification programs to apply for Approval. To learn more about the GSTC process please visit the GSTC website