Partnership for Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria and Sustainable Tourism Stewardship Council Announce Merge to Form Tourism Sustainability Council

September 10, 2009

The Partnership for Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC) and the Sustainable Tourism Stewardship Council (STSC) announced today their official merger. The result will be a new initiative that will launch in 2010 called the Tourism Sustainability Council (TSC), a global membership council that will offer a common understanding of sustainable tourism and the adoption of universal sustainable tourism principles and criteria. The TSC will bring together tourism businesses presently operating to various degrees of sustainability performance, governments, UN bodies, research and academic institutions, social and environmental NGOs, certification programs, and others from distinct regions of the world.

"The marriage of the GSTC Partnership with the STSC is fortuitous, strategic, and practical for both initiatives," said Erika Harms, Executive Director of Sustainable Development at the United Nations Foundation. "At our core, we share the same mission of education and awareness raising, stimulating and rewarding improved sustainability performance in tourism, and meeting consumer and market demand for more sustainable options when people travel."

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Ronald Sanabria, Vice President of Sustainable Tourism at Rainforest Alliance, added "by combining these complementary initiatives, the Tourism Sustainability Council will offer a common framework for the practice of sustainable tourism and support various tourism stakeholders with tools as they work to ensure that tourism helps, rather than harms, local communities and the environment."

The Tourism Sustainability Council will address the following objectives:

  • Foster public and private tourism sector awareness about the importance of sustainable tourism;
  • Develop knowledge-sharing, communications and educational tools and disseminating existing ones that can help the tourism industry work towards improved sustainability performance;
  • Help businesses identify self-assessment, verification, certification and other services that can help them get started or advance in their sustainability efforts;
  • Foster business-to-business solutions that will facilitate wider market access for sustainable tourism products, especially those that have been certified under a TSC- accredited program;
  • Develop baseline criteria and recommended performance indicators for all relevant sectors of the tourism industry and leading public consultation on those criteria and indicators in compliance with ISEAL.
  • Develop the procedural criteria that sustainable tourism certification programs must meet in order to be accredited, including initial assessment and continuous auditing to assure compliance, transparency, dispute settlement procedures, and other characteristics;
  • Accredit certification programs that fulfill accreditation requirements and whose standards meet or exceed baseline criteria and indicators and; and
  • Communicate and promote to the industry and consumers sustainable businesses particularly

About the Sustainable Tourism Stewardship Council

Tropical Hotel

The Sustainable Tourism Stewardship Council's mission is to enhance the sustainability of tourism operations by ensuring better environmental and social performance, and improved economic benefits to local communities and to certified businesses worldwide. The STSC is led by a temporary executive board that includes representatives from Colibri Consulting, Conservation International, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), EcoSustainAbility, Ecotrans, the European Centre for Ecological and Agricultural Tourism (ECEAT), the UK Federation of Tour Operators (FTO), the Pacific Asia Tourism Pty, Plan 21, Rara Avis, SNV, The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), Tourism Concern, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Foundation, WWF-Germany, and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), with support from the Rainforest Alliance.

About the Partnership for Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria

The Partnership for Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC Partnership) is a coalition of more than 50 organizations working together to foster increased understanding of sustainable tourism practices and the adoption of universal sustainable tourism principles. 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). These criteria will be the minimum standard that any tourism business 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.

Additional members of the GSTC Partnership Steering Committee are American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST), Condé Nast Traveler, Conservation International, Ecotourism Kenya, ECOTRANS, Expedia, Inc., Federation of Tour Operators (FTO), German Sustainable Development Cooperation Agency (GTZ), HM Design, International Hotel & Restaurant Association (IH&RA), National Geographic Adventure, National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations, Rainforest Alliance (RA), Travelocity/Sabre, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), Sustainable Travel International (STI), The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), Tourism Concern, Travel Weekly- US, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Foundation , United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

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