In partnership with Agoda and USAID, the GSTC Hotel Sustainability Training is coming to Colombo, Sri Lanka. This training aims to empower hoteliers to cultivate sustainable tourism practices and gain in-depth, practical knowledge of the GSTC Criteria.

This marks the seventh training collaboration between Agoda and GSTC, and the third in partnership with USAID, building on the success of previous trainings held in Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, India, and Nepal, benefiting over 300 hoteliers.

The interactive two-day training provides hoteliers with the opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills in sustainable development. Participants engage directly with GSTC trainers and guest speakers, learning from best practices and real-world hotel case studies. Additionally, utilizing a checklist based on the GSTC Hotel Criteria, participants can assess their current performance and establish short, medium, and long-term sustainability goals, aligning themselves with globally recognized sustainability standards.

DAY 1: August 1, 2024

TimeAgendaLearning Goals
10:30 – 10:35Welcome Remarks from GSTC

Mr. CB Ramkumar, Vice-chair, GSTC

10:35 – 10:45Opening Remarks from Agoda and USAID
10:45 – 10:50Keynote Speech
10:50 – 11:00Lamp Lighting Ceremony & Group Photo
11:00 – 11:30Morning Session 1:

  • Sustainable Tourism Overview: the definition and principles of sustainable tourism; issues, current trends, business case for sustainability.
Learning Goals:

Learn about the sustainability and tourism trends.

11:30 – 11:45Coffee Break
11:45 – 13:30Morning Session 2:

  • Introduction to the GSTC and GSTC Criteria: an introduction to the GSTC Criteria; the GSTC’s roles in the global tourism industry.
  • GSTC Industry Criteria Section A: best practices in sustainable tourism management approaches.
Learning Goals:

Understand the roles of the GSTC and the GSTC Criteria.

Become familiar with sustainability management principles and discuss best practices of hotels

13:30 – 14:30Lunch Break
14:30 – 15:45Afternoon Session 1:

  • GSTC Industry Criteria Section A (continued): best practices in sustainable tourism management approaches.
Learning Goals:

Become familiar with sustainability management principles and discuss best practices of hotels

15:45 – 16:00Coffee Break
16:00 – 17:30Afternoon Session 2:

  • GSTC Industry Criteria (B. Socio-economic Sustainability)

Day 1 summary and wrap-up

Learning Goals:

Understand issues and challenges related to the socioeconomic impacts of hotels. Learn about sustainability practices that effectively address the socioeconomic impacts of hotels.

Day 2: August 2, 2024

TimeAgendaLearning Goals
10:30 – 10:45
  • Day 1 Re-cap
  • Day 2 Introduction
10:45 – 11:30Morning Session 1:

  • GSTC Industry Criteria (C. Cultural Heritage Benefits and Impacts)
Learning Goals:

Understand issues and challenges related to the socioeconomic impacts of tourism.

Learn about sustainability practices that effectively address the socioeconomic impacts of tourism.

11:30 – 11:45Coffee Break
11:45 – 13:30Morning Session 2:

  • GSTC Industry Criteria (D. Environmental Benefits and Impacts)
Learning Goals:

Understand issues and challenges related to the impact of business on the local environment. 

Learn about best practices on how a hotel business reduces negative impacts in terms of environmental sustainability.

13:30 – 14:30Lunch Break
14:30 – 15:45Afternoon Session 1:

  • Guest speech: Sustainable Journey through the GSTC Certification
  • Q&A
Learning Goals:

Learn about best practices on how a hotel follows the GSTC Industry Criteria and moves on the sustainable path

15:45 – 16:00Coffee Break
16:00 – 16:40Afternoon Session 2 (Group Discussion):

  • Apply the GSTC Industry Criteria to their hotel practices and compare the GSTC hotel checklist in groups.
Learning Goals:

Using the checklist, they can understand how they can immediately apply the GSTC Criteria to their own work.

16:40 – 17:30Afternoon Session 3 (Presentation):

  • Share their current practices and the action plans for the sustainable hotel and get feedback from the trainers and the other participants

Training wrap-up: looking back and moving forward

Learning Goals:

Using the checklist, they can understand how they can immediately apply the GSTC Criteria to their own work.


The GSTC Sustainable Tourism course was a holistic, digestible, and engaging opportunity. As a busy professional, the pace and length of course was very thoughtful and the combination of live sessions, networking with tourism professionals, expert guest presenters, small breakout sessions, videos, quizzes, links to a plethora of resources, and discussion forums ensured that I could make the most out of my investment in the course.

Erin Harris, CEO/Founder, Feed Our Joy Travel

Food for your brain! If sustainable tourism didn’t mean anything to you before, just subscribe to start your own journey towards sustainability whether you’re a traveler, or a stakeholder of the Tourism Industry!

Sonja Gottlebe, Consultante en Tourisme Responsable, Madagascar

This is a great introductory way to get started with your sustainability strategy. It’s a bit daunting to overhaul an entire business and operation strategy in order to be come a more sustainable organization, so this course is definitely needed in learning how to get started, inspiration from other entities, ability to create global connections with others in the industry that have the same focus, and great resources to guide you in the beginning phases of building up your own strategy.

Zach Fyne, Global Markets Specialist, Utah Office of Tourism

The course was very helpful to gain a deeper insight into sustainability in tourism and also to learn what challenges and realities other tourism professionals around the globe have to deal with.

Stefan Aerni, Quality & Sustainability manager, Dolder Hotel AG

The course is very interesting, helpful and fruitful. Apart from the excellent trainers and guests, the variety of the participants from all over the world added more value to the course.

Christos Donousis, Senior Condultant at Be Safer-Veltia SA

The GSTC training proved to be extremely helpful for me and my small-scale travel agency that I founded only 18 months ago. We definitely still have a long way to go on the road to sustainability but the GSTC training has been a very important step towards it. The training offers very detailed and concrete insights as well as general strategies to work towards a sustainable organisation.”

Treesje Vanderlinden, Keniaanse Toeren

This course was incredibly well organized and delivered. I was continually impressed with the asynchronous materials like the pre-recorded videos, examples and slides. This prepared me well for the live sessions where discussions occurred and mini cases were used to apply the knowledge. The weekly summaries were very beneficial in pulling together the key learnings. I really enjoyed the forums where participants could provide their own examples and further the learning process.

I would highly recommend this GSTC course to industry, destinations and other schools as it focuses on relevant, practical, implementable elements of sustainability for tourism management and operations. Both the director organizing the course and the facilitator delivering the course content, were exceptional in putting this program together.

Christian Van Buskirk, Professor, Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria

This course provided me with a thorough understanding of how to implement sustainable travel practices. I will definitely integrate information from this training into my work with travel organizations and destinations to help them achieve short-term progress through a long-term strategy.

Sophia Hyder Hock, Founder and CEO, Papilia

I would recommend GSTC training to anyone working in tourism development (communities, states, provinces) as well as the broad spectrum of industries (accommodations, transportation, attractions, etc.) engaged in the tourism “business.” Understanding what it means to build a sustainable tourism environment that is inclusive of all stakeholders is fundamental to the future of destinations and tourism itself.

Randal G. Baker, Ph.D., Director of Hospitality and Tourism program, St Cloud State University, U.S.A.

It was inspiring to connect with like-minded individuals from diverse backgrounds, all passionate about sustainable tourism. The opportunity to share ideas, ask questions, and engage in meaningful discussions enriched the learning process and fostered a sense of sustainable tourism community. The course was designed to accommodate a variety of learning styles and schedules. The flexibility to access the course materials at our own pace ensured that participants from different time zones and with various commitments could benefit fully.

Luke Tam, Co-founder & Executive Director, Kaifong Tour

As an adventure travel tour operator, we are focused on doing as much good as possible to every place and community we visit and sustainability is rightly gaining momentum, both with industry professionals and with our customers. Therefore having the knowledge from this course means you can stay ahead of the curve and ensure your efforts are being focused in the right areas. This course has allowed me to gain insights from right across the tourism spectrum, which I otherwise wouldn’t have had access to (not easily anyway!), as well as opening my eyes to just how much difference we can make.

Nikki, Exodus Travels

I loved the GSTC Tourism course, it had great information and allowed for wonderful interactions with other industry professionals from around the world. Very relevant to how the industry should be moving and focusing to become a more responsible and equitable industry.

Stu Luchs, CEO, The Luchs Group

It was a great learning experience, very practical and applicable in real life. The trainers are always available, caring and attentive. The participants are of a high level, and the notion of “learning by sharing” is taken seriously. I feel ready to use the GSTC Criteria for my personal project but also to support other professionals in my region.

Raquel Renovato, Oshun Ecovillage Slow Travel

What is great with this course is the ability to not only hear guest speakers and trainers about their experience and knowledge but also have discussions among the participants with a variety of backgrounds. This was very valuable in terms of broadening my scope to set a foundation for the journey towards sustainability in Malaysia’s tourism industry.

Shofend Simon, Project Assistant, Peterson Projects and Solutions (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd

The GSTC sustainable tourism course has helped me to consolidate the basis of sustainability opening my mind by teaching me different ways to approach tourism industry and destination from a sustainable point of view. It’s very rich to share ideas with people from all over the world. An excellent organization, I highly recommend it to anyone with curiosity about how to improve in the sustainable tourism industry.

Gemma Llobet, Sustainable Tourism Programme, Barcelona Tourism Board

This is a well prepared and well delivered course. It provides comprehensive coverage of key issues, real life examples and good practice from across the industry. Instructors are knowledgeable, responsive and easy to follow. Presentations by guests speakers are also very interesting and illuminating. I highly recommend.

Yasemin Biro Kirtman, Knowledge and Learning Coordinator, Global Environment Facility

Participating allowed me to gain valuable insights and knowledge which I am determined to apply in my field of work as a representative of a state tourist board.

Gerald Maerz, CMO, Vorarlberg State Tourism Board

An excellent course, very well designed and structured, challenging with great support from the trainers. The practical insights I gained will help me in my future project to embed sustainability in educational projects.

Helga Nagy, International Advisory Committee, the École d'Hôtellerie et de Tourisme Paul Dubrule

I’ve always tried to improve and learn about modern methods of preservation, practice sustainable tourism and ways to better apply my knowledge with my team. With my participation in this course, I was able to understand the GSTC criteria and how best to apply them in my daily life in a didactic way.

Alvaro Rodrigues, Director, BSE - Brazil Shore Excursions

The GSTC training has been very inspiring and relevant, an excellent programme providing in-depth knowledge of the GSTC criteria for sustainable practices together with al lot of real life examples. Good qualified trainers and great guest speakers! I would really recommend the course to all industry professionals who is serious about making sustainable impacts for a better travel and hospitality industry.

Linda Ramberg, Advisor, Fossekall AS
This course has been very relevant and provides in-depth knowledge of GSTC criteria for sustainable practices for destinations as well as the travel industry [with] plenty of real life examples and share links to plenty of reading material throughout the course. … As we move forward during these difficult COVID times, learning our lessons on the damage to nature, it becomes all the more important for industry professionals to get trained and step up efforts to embrace sustainability in all aspects of tourism. Hence, I recommend this course to all industry professionals.
Manisha Soti, The Walshe Group

This is exceptional to work with a group from all around the world and to share experiences from so many different tourism destinations. While learning more about each GSTC pillar & criteria I was encouraged to immediately apply the evaluation criteria to my own business and to challenge myself into a lot more sustainable actions.

Pascal Gavotto , Tourism Specialist and owner of Fatumaru Lodge - Vanuatu

The GSTC programme, led by highly qualified and experienced facilitators and world class presenters, provides a thorough analysis and an integrated approach to sustainable tourism development. The brilliantly structured course, the live online sessions, discussion fora and extensive reference material gave us all access to much valuable information. In addition, the networking opportunities and rich sharing among the global participants, ourselves mostly ST experts, made for a most enriching and inspiring experience. It is wonderful to be part of a world-wide community of sustainable tourism practitioners, imparting such wisdom and committed to making a positive impact for all. Thank You GSTC for an outstanding programme!

Yvonne Armour, Responsible Tourism Development Specialist / Educator

I enjoyed the weekly presentations and discussions. I learnt a lot from experiences from other participants. The learning by doing approach during Thursdays helped a lot in trying to apply what I learnt on Mondays.

Percy Fernandez, Chairperson, Manipal Academy of Higher Education

As a hotelier I’ve known about sustainability, but this course gave me more practical examples from different sectors and different states. The group discussions and team activities throughout the course also encouraged us to learn more about the subject.

Seema Menon, EHS Manager, Royal Rose Hotel

I really enjoyed this course and learned a lot. It was interesting to hear from people all over the world and get their perspectives on sustainability. I loved hearing from the guest speakers. I would recommend this course to anyone who is interested in sustainability in the tourism industry.

Jody Blaney, Utah Office of Tourism

The most significant takeaway for me was the comprehensive understanding it provided regarding sustainability and its various components. The course offers an excellent starting point and a systematic approach for anyone looking to embark on their sustainability journey. It has been instrumental in helping me grasp the entirety of the concept and has provided a solid foundation for initiating sustainable practices.

Mathi Thayanan, Country Team Coordinator, Market Development Facility

The course was enriching, and the reflections are already helping me in my work. Using the GSTC Criteria as a basis for a holistic vision of sustainability in tourism works perfectly.

Ana Cecilia Duék, Director, Viajar Verde

I had a great experience hearing and discussing how my fellow training participants act in their country / organization / company to constantly improve their sustainable practices.

Chiara Padoan, Sustainable Tourism Coordinator, Big French Key Roatan SA, Roatan-Honduras

I highly recommend the course to anyone interested to explore or deepen sustainability in tourism. It gives a great overview on all dimensions and how to tackle them hands-on. Course management and content are both at the highest level! Thanks!

Samuel Wille, Manager Strategic Partnership, Switzerland Tourism Organization

This course is fantastic! So well organized, well balanced, and informative! Highly recommended for those that understand sustainable tourism to those just starting their journey. Excellent reviews, speakers, and instructors, very engaging!

Kelly Bricker, University of Utah, Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism

It was a great experience to complete my holistic knowledge of sustainable tourism and to get in contact with people and sustainable projects around the word which share the same values and goals.

Birgit Krüger, Consultant for sustainable tourism & marketing, TOURIMAR, Germany

My course facilitator and teacher (Ayako and Antje) went above and beyond to answer our questions and provide us with additional resources. The course content (the GSTC Criteria) was delivered in an understandable and organized way. Learning the GSTC Criteria and how it applies to our own projects, businesses, and destinations is integral to anyone wanting to do any kind of work in the future centered around travel. I appreciated that the course was delivered in an interactive way over Zoom, and not just something we watched on YouTube. For me, being able to interact with fellow students from around the world, was a big plus. Was well worth it, and I highly recommend the course!

Deb Lace-Kelly, The Lost Compass

This course has given me an approach to the GSTC Criteria, where the basic and complete structure to move forward on sustainable paths is visualized. The reflections generated through real examples, discussions and available material are key to better internalize what sustainability means. Ideas applicable to our business and our work area appear during the course that contribute positively to one’s reality. I will recommend this course, for its contribution to the objective, honest and constructive understanding of what sustainability is.

Agustin Landeta, Owner, Zenit Travel

The GSTC course was a great way to learn more about Sustainability, what it means, different aspects of it and how to create a plan to start! As someone relatively new in this topic, I found the information extremely helpful and educational. The guest speakers were inspiring and aspirational, and all of the group discussions and comments were really enriching. Thank you GSTC for creating such wonderful content!

Denise Chavarria, Director of Operations - YMT Vacations

The course is very interesting and well designed. With very professional speakers, it gives you a lot of insights and the possibility to work on real cases.

Giulia Tempesta, Evaneos

Great teachers and companions allowed to understand all the relevant issues of this complex industry and to get inspired by great examples!

Asia Baroni, Consultant, Territori Sostenibili, Italy

The GSTC training is very useful in our efforts of future sustainability. This knowledge is very important to our company business moving forward. The GSTC criteria guided us towards the best practices that enables us to monitor the progress of each important tasks. I would strongly recommend GSTC training to everyone because its set a baseline for future sustainability efforts.

Tong Chye Lau, Operation Director, Spring City Golf & Lake Resort

I enjoyed being able to learn about up to date and practical examples of sustainable tourism from operators and destinations around the globe.

E'Lisha V. Fogle, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

A very informative course and well organized by excellent teachers. It was also very rewarding to “meet” people in the tourism industry around the world and unite in the interest and knowledge regarding sustainable tourism. I would definitely recommend this course to everybody involved in tourism.

Áslaug Briem, Icelandic Tourist Board

The GSTC course was very professional and a great experience. I appreciated the communications via emails on what was next, what to expect. There is a lot of data on this topic and GSTC made if very easy to comprehend and the training is the best I have seen this far. I would highly recommend this course and educational training. I look forward to working very closely with GSTC in the future.

Debbie Meihls, President & CEO New Smyrna Beach Area Visitors Bureau

GSTC seminar helps to open the eyes and to develop a new regard on longevity of tourism and the entire sustainable content. I would advise to every professional body working in tourism to participate to this kind of seminar as soon as possible.

Dagmar Ehlen, Senior Product Manager, Cruise Services SAM

The overall learning experience was great! The internet platform, videos and resources are are very well explanatory and the weekly live sessions perfectly illustrate all criteria.

Benoit Sauvage, CEO, Connect DMC

I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude for the enlightening and enriching course on the Sustainable Tourism Training Program offered by GSTC. Through this course, I gained a keen insight into the criteria set by GSTC, enabling me to grasp the nuances of collaborating effectively with diverse stakeholders. I particularly appreciate the emphasis placed on engaging various entities, including local communities, tourism boards, businesses, and government agencies, in fostering sustainable tourism practices through live lectures and live group discussions. The course’s practical approach allowed me to delve into real-life scenarios, enabling me to develop a comprehensive strategy to promote sustainable tourism in collaboration with these stakeholders.

Deepika Nagpal, Consultant (Ernst & Young) to Ministry of Tourism, Government of India

I think this is a very complete, interesting course for anyone in Sustainability to take. There’s global networking, great examples of people leading change and sharing ideas for future collaborations. It gave me a closer look into how to approach the different aspects that constitute a businesses in different industries as well as destinations. It opened my mind to new fresh ideas.

Brenda Cortes, Sustainability Manager, Kelowna Yacht Club

This training in sustainable tourism is a life-changing experience. It will shift your perspective on sustainable travel and equip you with the tools to implement it in your workflows. If you’re looking for new ideas and a path to a more sustainable approach, I highly recommend the GSTC training course.

Pooja Kaushik

This course takes a comprehensive approach to integrating sustainability practices into the tourism industry. The perfect way to dive into this topic is through a blended modality that mixes theoretical and practical approaches and this is exactly what happens in this course.

Alessandro Maura, Sustainability Consultant, ENVISA


GSTC Certificate in Sustainable Tourism

Certificate of Attendance

After completing the 2-day training, participants will get the certificate of attendance.

GSTC Professional Certificate in Sustainable Tourism

By completing this 2-day onsite training, participants will meet the training requirement towards earning the GSTC Professional Certificate in Sustainable Tourism and will have the option to take the GSTC Sustainable Tourism Training Exam. The exam takes place online, and participants will have 2 weeks after the training to take the exam. If participants pass the exam, they will receive a Professional Certificate in Sustainable Tourism by the GSTC.

>> Learn more about GSTC Certificate in Sustainable Tourism

GSTC Trainers

CB Ramkumar
Vice-chair & Trainer, GSTC

Mr. CB Ramkumar (Ram) is an author, speaker, trainer, consultant and an entrepreneur. He is passionate about sustainability and has over the years acquired application knowledge in sustainable living concepts. He developed a model for sustainable living when he built and founded Our Native Village, an eco resort just outside Bangalore, in South India. Over the last decade, he has extended his expertise to sustainable living – including topics such as sustainable food, sustainable health, sustainable marketing and branding.

Ram is also a trained Climate Leader after undergoing a training programme by the Former US Vice President and Nobel laureate, Mr. Al Gore. In addition to being a regular guest faculty in colleges across India, Ram is a guest faculty for the Indian Forest Officers training programme for eco tourism for the Jungle Lodges & Resorts in Karnataka and the International Centre for Environmental Audit & Sustainable Development in Jaipur.

Chinthana Duminduhewa
Trainer, GSTC

Chinthana Duminduhewa is a specialist in tourism and sustainable development, entrepreneur, trainer, lecturer, consultant, and GSTC lead trainer. He is passionate about sustainable tourism, responsible tourism, ecotourism, wildlife tourism, and photography having more than 25 years of experience.

Chinthana is giving his knowledge and high capacity for innovative tourism product development specially in the area of community-centric tourism product development. Also, community involvement in protecting wildlife is his research area. At present, he is serving with many projects and training with International and national organizations. He is one of the pioneers in promoting sustainable tourism in Sri Lanka, specially in the national context. While being an entrepreneur in the tourism industry, he initiated concepts and developments to tourism as well. Currently, he is actively engaged in decentralizing the sustainable tourism concept all over Sri Lanka while delivering many programmes to stakeholders, university students, government entities, private enthusiasts, etc. He is the founding industry coordinator of the Certificate in Sustainable Tourism Destination Management CSTDM Programme at the University of Colombo.

Note for the registration:

This Hotel Sustainability Training is delivered in partnership with Agoda and USAID. Please note that each hotel may register only one representative for this training. 

This training course includes:

Coffee and lunch for 2 days are included.

After the 2-day training, participants will receive the certificate of attendance with the GSTC, Agoda and USAID logos.

Please note that our Sustainable Tourism Development Initiative partner, US-SEGA, will provide scholarships for participants to take the official GSTC Sustainable Tourism Exam.