Global Sustainable Tourism Council Criteria

Author: Global Sustainable Tourism Council, Published on: 1 January 2015

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Criteria serve as the global baseline standards for sustainability in travel and tourism.

They are the result of a worldwide effort to develop a common language about sustainability in tourism. Focusing on social and environmental responsibility, as well as the positive and negative economic and cultural impacts of tourism, the criteria are organized into four pillars:

  • Sustainable management
  • Socioeconomic impacts
  • Cultural impacts
  • Environmental impacts (including consumption of resources, reducing pollution, and conserving biodiversity and landscapes)

The GSTC Criteria have been built on decades of prior work and experience around the world, and they take into account the numerous guidelines and standards for sustainable tourism from every continent. During the process of development, they were widely consulted throughout the globe, in both developed and developing countries, in several languages. They reflect our goal in attaining a global consensus on sustainable tourism.  The process of developing the Criteria was designed to adhere to ISO codes of conduct and the standards-setting code of the ISEAL Alliance, a global leader in providing guidance for the development and management of sustainability for all sectors.

The Criteria are the minimum, not the maximum, which businesses, governments, and destinations should achieve to approach social, environmental, cultural, and economic sustainability. Since tourism destinations each have their own culture, environment, customs, and laws, the Criteria are designed to be adapted to local conditions and supplemented by additional criteria for the specific location and activity.

To date, two sets of GSTC Criteria have been developed: for hotels and tour operators, and for destinations.

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