The Global Sustainable Tourism Council® (GSTC®) is pleased to announce that the “Preferred by Nature Standard for Sustainable Travel Activities v1.0” in English and Spanish, has gained GSTC-Recognized Standard status, meaning it has been fully recognized as equivalent to the GSTC Industry Criteria.

Preferred by Nature is an international non-profit organization, dedicated to promoting sustainable land management and responsible business practices. They provide certification, consulting, and advisory services to help businesses and organizations enhance their environmental sustainability.

The Preferred by Nature Standard for Sustainable Travel Activities offers a comprehensive framework that encourages and guides travel organizations in adopting sustainable management practices by preserving the biodiversity and ecosystems of travel destinations. The Standard contributes to the social and cultural development of local communities by engaging them into economic activities and promoting regional cultures and heritage values. By integrating sustainability into its operations, the Standard aims to promote positive impacts on people, nature, and climate within the travel industry.

The GSTC-Recognized status refers to the standard itself, indicating that a sustainable tourism standard has been reviewed by GSTC technical experts and the GSTC Assurance Panel and deemed the content of the standard equivalent to the GSTC Criteria for sustainable tourism. It shows that the set of standards is based on the four pillars of the GSTC Criteria: Sustainable Management, Socioeconomic, Cultural, and Environmental principles.

GSTC Recognition of Standards does not relate to the process of certification (which is a third-party assessment, through an audit, of a tourism enterprise for conformity to a standard). GSTC Recognition of Standards does not relate to accreditation (formal verification that a certification body operates competently and neutrally according to international standards of how to properly certify, which is the highest level of assurance).

The stated scope of the standard is hotels and tour operators, and geographical coverage is global. The GSTC Recognition is valid until either the standard or the GSTC Industry Criteria are changed. The GSTC Recognition also has a time limitation that by 31 December 2024 Preferred by Nature needs to pursue accreditation.

“We are delighted to receive the news that the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) has officially recognized our Preferred by Nature Standard for Sustainable Travel Activities V1.0, and soon plan to continue on this path by formally applying for full GSTC-accreditation. This recognition marks a significant milestone in our ongoing commitment to promoting sustainable travel practices globally, further reinforcing our mission to drive positive environmental and social impact in the travel industry,» says Saúl Blanco Sosa, Director of the Sustainable Travel Programme at Preferred by Nature.

“Preferred by Nature demonstrates its dedication to a broad and global strategy by aligning with the principles of the Four Pillars of the GSTC Criteria, proving its commitment to a more sustainable future,” says Randy Durband, CEO of GSTC.

Currently, 73 standards have achieved GSTC-Recognized status. The status offers the market proof that these standards adhere to international norms. GSTC Recognition does not ensure that a certification process is reliable, only that the set of standards used to certify are equivalent to the GSTC Criteria. GSTC-Recognized standard owners are encouraged to follow and complete the accreditation process, which assures that the certification process used to apply the standard meets international best practices, transparency, and rigor. A list of GSTC-Accredited certification bodies is available here.

About the GSTC

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council® (GSTC®) establishes and manages global sustainable standards, known as the GSTC Criteria. There are three sets: Destination Criteria for public policy-makers and destination managers, Industry Criteria for Hotels and Tour Operators, and MICE Criteria for Venues, Event Organizers, and Events & Exhibitions. These are the guiding principles and minimum requirements that any tourism business or destination should aspire to reach in order to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources while ensuring tourism meets its potential as a tool for conservation and poverty alleviation.

The GSTC Criteria form the foundation for GSTC’s assurance role for Certification Bodies that certify hotels/accommodations, tour operators, and destinations as having sustainable policies and practices in place. GSTC does not directly certify any products or services, but provides accreditation to those that do. The GSTC is an independent and neutral USA-registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization that represents a diverse and global membership, including national and provincial governments, leading travel companies, hotels, tour operators, NGOs, individuals and communities – all striving to achieve best practices in sustainable tourism.

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About Preferred by Nature

Preferred by Nature is an international non-profit organization that works to support better land management and business practices benefiting people, nature, and climate. This is achieved through a unique combination of sustainability services, projects that support awareness raising, and capacity building.

With 30 years of experience, they have been developing practical solutions to drive positive impacts in production landscapes and supply chains in over 100 countries. Their focus is on land use, primarily through forests, agriculture, and climate impact commodities, and related sectors such as tourism.

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