• Sabi Sabi

    Photo credit by Sabi Sabi Game Reseve, Kruger National Park, South Africa

  • Tswalu

    Photo credit by Amakhala Game Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa

  • IMG_3851

    Photo credit by !Khwa ttu San Culture and Education Centre, Western Cape, South Africa

  • Amakhala

    Amakhala Game Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Sustainable certifications shift up a gear

Leading the field is the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) which has just announced its new Tourism Criteria for Destinations. The GSTC is best known as an accreditation organisation, which ensures that sustainable tourism certification schemes around the world are audited to the highest standard possible. It has worked with  an impressive array of organisations with UN agencies, leading travel companies, hotels, tourism boards,  tour operators, individuals and communities all showing up on their membership list. But now, they are tackling destinations as a whole, a process which aims to create a common understanding of what constitutes sustainable destinations with poverty alleviation, gender equity and environmental sustainability the main cross-cutting issues being addressed throughout.

Early Adopters  have been testing the criteria, such as Cusco-Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu in Peru and Teton County, Wyoming USA. This eclectic mix of destinations have inspired and informed the new criteria for Destinations – criteria which are not aimed at certifying destinations but as a baseline that each destination should add to or adjust as needed.

International cooperation in certification is also demonstrated by South Africa’s pioneering Fair Trade in Tourism (FTT) scheme. They have recently signed Mutual Recognition Agreements with two leading certification organisations,TourCert  and Travelife for Tour Operators. The Mutual Recognition Agreements will allow any tour operator certified by TourCert or Travelife to receive the full number of possible points when using an FTT-certified tourism business as a supplier, thus waiving the requirement to conduct an individual check of this supplier by both TourCert & Travelife. FTT’s General Manager & Acting Executive Director  Kathy Bergs sums up the gear change perfectly, saying “Mutual Recognition is a strategy of collaboration rather than competition with sister sustainable tourism certification schemes and is welcomed by an industry facing ‘label fatigue’”.

Written and edited by Catherine Mack who specialises in sustainable tourism. Follow her on Twitter @catherinemack or on her blog Ethical Traveller

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