June 15, 2015 – Longtime Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) supporter UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai recently recorded this message about the GSTC, reinforcing the necessity and value of the sustainable tourism criteria in global tourism. As the global agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, UNWTO’s support of the GSTC and the criteria symbolizes a future for tourism that can drive conservation and poverty alleviation while continuing economic development.

“Sustainability is at the core of UNWTO’s work. We recognize that achieving sustainability requires knowledge of many elements among national and destination level stakeholders, that’s why the UNWTO fully endorses the work of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and its criteria. The Criteria provides an essential framework for identifying what must be done to be sustainable. They were developed following international best practices and with wide public consultations and the result is globally relevant and a globally applicable set of guidelines.” – UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.

The GSTC Criteria are the minimum requirements that any tourism business or public destination management authorities 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 poverty alleviation.

Through diverse stakeholder engagement, the GSTC Criteria offer a result of a common language for sustainability in tourism. Converted into 14 different languages and applicable to developing and developed nations, the GSTC Criteria are the most comprehensive sustainable tourism standards. At no cost to download, the Criteria are applicable to tour operators, hotels and entire destinations making sustainable tourism standards versatile and relevant to nearly all sectors of the tourism industry, including UNWTO.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. In 2008, a coalition of more than 50 organizations formed the Partnership for Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC Partnership). The Partnership was initiated by the Rainforest Alliance, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Foundation, and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in an effort to come to a common understanding of sustainable tourism.

The partnership between UNWTO and GSTC builds a stronger future for sustainable tourism. With similar missions and the sharing of valuable best practices and advocacy for sustainable tourism, the UNWTO and GSTC jointly contribute to a future for tourism that’s globally sustainable for all stakeholders.