‘Sakura Quality An ESG Practice Standard’ Announced as a GSTC-Recognized Standard
The GSTC is pleased to announce that ‘Sakura Quality An ESG Practice Standard’ for hotels and ryokans in Japan has achieved ‘GSTC-Recognized Standard’ status.
In Japan, particular qualities are associated with different flowers, and the quality associated with Sakura, the cherry blossom, is “spiritual beauty.” Sakura Quality began research in April 2011 and is currently working with 26 DMOs across Japan as a quality certification system that certifies quality together with DMOs across Japan (as of April 2022) and has adopted over 2,000 criteria for lodging facilities.
The ‘Sakura Quality An ESG Practice Standard’ for hotels and ryokans in Japan consists of 172 items: 117 environment-related items, 17 social-related items, and 38 business-related items.
The GSTC-Recognized status refers to the standard itself, indicating that a sustainable tourism standard or system has been reviewed by GSTC technical experts and the GSTC Assurance Panel and deemed the standard or system 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 does not relate to the process of certification or accreditation.
“Sakura Quality has been conducting quality inspections of lodging facilities based on the Sakura Quality Standards that consist of items related to providing safe, secure, and honest services. In addition to providing safe, secure, and honest services, the ‘ESG Practice Standard’ consists of 172 criteria, including measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. This is an attempt to certify and disseminate information on SDG initiatives in Japan,” said Mr. Takeshi Kitamura, Sakura Quality CEO.
“The use of the GSTC Criteria and framework is increasing in Japan, and we are pleased to see that Sakura Quality is joining and supporting those efforts with a GSTC-compliant approach and gaining GSTC Recognition of their standard,” said Randy Durband, GSTC CEO.
Currently, 11 destination standards, 34 hotel standards, and 15 tour operator 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 practice, 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 two sets: Destination Criteria for public policy-makers and destination managers, and Industry Criteria for hotels and tour operators. 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 Accreditation of 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; GSTC provides an accreditation program through its partner Assurance Services International to accredit Certification Bodies. 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, NGO’s, individuals and communities – all striving to achieve best practices in sustainable tourism.
Sakura Quality is a joint quality certification system between Tourism Quality Assurance Association (TQAA), tourism regions, and DMOs in partnership with TQAA. It is a quality certification system that defines “safety, security, and sincerity” as “quality” that is required of accommodation facilities and reflects customer needs. TQAA manages the standards, manages the logo mark, conducts surveys and research on customer needs, trains surveyors, is the certification body, and operates “third-party committees” consisting of members who are neutral, objective, and highly knowledgeable, to support quality certification systems by DMOs and other organizations.