GSTC Market Access Program

GSTC promotes market access for certified sustainable businesses to travelers and travel providers of hotels/accommodations, with a strong preference for those businesses certified by GSTC-Accredited Certification Bodies (accredited certifications). Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are responding to market demand for sustainable product, external ESG reporting requirements, and to their internal CSR and sustainability goals, by seeking methods to provide easy and clear access to sustainable products and services to the marketplace of travelers. OTAs wish to highlight with a mark and provide their users a filter to identify “sustainable” hotels based on a reliable source of information.

Travellers increasingly seek eco-friendly and socially responsible options, and incorporating accommodations with accredited certification into the OTA’s platform can present to customers with a trusted selection of sustainable choices, responding to the growing market demand for sustainable products.

Through the Market Access Program, our OTA Partners get regular updates on the certified and verified accommodations as we collect this information from Certification Bodies and Recognized Standard Owners (RSO) on a regular basis. Businesses certified by a GSTC-Accredited Certification Body, meeting all the GSTC Criteria (or a GSTC-Recognized Standard), have the highest level of assurance and credibility available. With an accredited certification, customers and buyers are assured that the business was certified in a credibly verified procedure in a transparent, impartial, and competent manner.

OTAs and distributors of hotel booking or other travel companies that wish to highlight/promote sustainable accommodations can contact GSTC to receive a list of sustainable hotels according to the GSTC Market Access Program.

Eligibility to Participate in the Market Access Program (MAP)

The GSTC Market Access Program (MAP) currently has two levels of filtering eligibility:

Main Filter: Accredited Certification

Hotels/accommodations certified by a GSTC-Accredited Certification Body (having “accredited certification”) are and remain eligible for inclusion in the program.

In the same manner that hotels seek 3rd-party certification in order to verify their claims with external, independent, neutral, and competent auditing/certification programs, the Certification Bodies that provide those services can and should seek 3rd-party accreditation to validate and certify their claims. Accreditation involves intensive and open scrutiny of the processes of certification in order to determine that those processes and decisions comply with international norms for quality and impartiality. This is the highest level of credible external auditing; the accreditation of certification. In some other sectors, accreditation is a recruitment by national governments and standards bureaus.

Standard used for certificationGSTC-Accredited Certification Body
GSTC Criteria & Türkiye Sustainable
Tourism lndustry Criteria (TR-I)
Bureau Veritas
GSTC Criteria & Türkiye Sustainable
Tourism lndustry Criteria (TR-I)
Control Union
Mauritian Standard on Sustainable Tourism:
Blue Oasis
Mauritius Standards Bureau
Türkiye Sustainable Tourism
lndustry Criteria (TR-I)
GSTC CriteriaUnited Certification Systems Limited
GSTC Criteria & Türkiye Sustainable
Tourism lndustry Criteria (TR-I)
Vireo Srl

Second Filter: conditional verification to certain standards

GSTC currently supports an additional second lower level filter, making eligible those hotels/accommodations verified by Standard Owners that use a GSTC-Recognized Standard (i.e., a standard that formally includes within it the GSTC Criteria). The inclusion of the second filter is a temporary measure to boost and establish the Market Access Program while recognizing the sustainability efforts of the accommodations that have been verified by Recognized Standard Owners.

Only Recognized Standards that are used for certification and meet the needed requirements are included in the list of sustainable accommodations (such as stating that an 3rd-party on-site audit is mandatory). Not all Standards that have obtained GSTC-Recognition are part of the Market Access Program.

To maintain the GSTC-Recognized status of the standards, owners of existing Recognized Standards used for “certification” need to formally open an application to pursue accreditation or enter into the arrangement with GSTC whereby they act as a “Certification Scheme” by December 31, 2024. Failing to do so will result in the Recognition status being terminated (for more details).

GSTC guides participating OTAs and distributors use filter #1 indefinitely, and launch their program to include filter #2 with a phase-out plan that states estimated or fixed dates of removal of filter #2. For example, in 2024 an OTA might announce that filter #2 terminates on December 31, 2024.

GSTC-Recognized StandardRecognized Standard Owner
Actively Green StandardWalking Mountain Science Center – Sustainable Travel International
Ambassador Level of ARC360La Buena Huella
Austrian Ecolabel for TourismThe Austrian Federal Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism (Österreichisches Umweltzeichen)
Bioscore StandardBioscore
Biosphere Standard for HotelsResponsible Tourism Institute
Cabo Verde Sustainability Standard for Tourist AccommodationsInstitute for Quality Management and Intellectual Property (IGQPI)
Chile Sistema de Distinción en Turismo Sustentable (SERNATUR) Sello SSERNATUR
Costa Rica Certification for Sustainable TourismThe Costa Rican Tourism Board
EarthCheck Evaluate and Company StandardsEarthCheck Pty Limited
EcoCheck StandardIntertek
Ecostars StandardEcostars
Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Certification StandardEcotourism Australia Ltd
Ecotourism Kenya Standard for Tourism Accommodations FacilitiesEcotourism Kenya
Global Ecosphere Retreats (GER) StandardThe Long Run
Green Growth 2050 StandardGreen Growth 2050
Green Key CriteriaFoundation for Environmental Education (FEE)
Green Key Eco-RatingHotel Association of Canada
Green Star Hotel StandardEgyptian Hotel Association
GreenSign Certification CatalogInfraCert GmbH
GreenStep Sustainable Tourism StandardGreenStep
Hostelling International Quality & Sustainability StandardHostelling International
Hoteles más Verdes (AHT) StandardAsociación de Hoteles de Turismo Argentina (AHT)
Mauritian Standard on Sustainable Tourism: Blue OasisMauritius Standards Bureau
Miosotis Azores StandardMiosotis Azores Standard
Nature’s BestSwedish Nature & Ecotourism Association (Naturturismföretagen)
Platinum Award, Green Hospitality StandardGreen Hospitality
Preferred by Nature Standard for Sustainable Travel Activities V1.0Preferred by Nature
Qualmark Sustainable Tourism Business CriteriaQualmark
Sakura Quality An ESG Practice Standardsakura Quality Management Co., LDT
Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label (SSTL) CriteriaTourism Department – Ministry of Tourism
SOCOTEC Sustainability Management System Applicable for HotelsSOCOTEC
Sustainable Travel IrelandSustainable Travel Ireland
TOFTigers Initiative’s Pug StandardPUG audit (TOFTigers)
TourCert Industry CriteriaTourCert (CSR Tourism)
Travelife Standard for Hotels & AccommodationsTravelife Ltd
Adventure Green Alaska StandardsAlaska Travel Industry Association
*Please note not all GSTC-Recognized Standards are included in the Market Access Program
You can learn more about the impacts of Market Access here.

Some of the benefits of the Market Access Program are:

Examples of OTAs Feature Sustainable Accommodations

Below are examples of how various OTAs in the Market Access Program showcase certified hotels on their websites.

easyJet Holidays eco-certified holidays

easyJet Holidays

TUI Holidays