GSTC Standards as Sustainable Tourism Framework

Tourism enterprises aspiring to integrate sustainable practices into their operations face the imperative task of defining a standard and conceptual framework to guide their practices. The question arises: which standard should they adopt, and how should they go about strategizing its implementation?

To tackle these important questions, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC®) stands out as a model of excellence, offering a strong standard for sustainable travel and tourism. With its management of the GSTC Criteria, this council offers a practical framework that covers various aspects of sustainability within the tourism industry.

At its core, the GSTC Criteria serve as a foundation for sustainability in travel and tourism, catering to a wide range of stakeholders, including businesses, governments, NGOs, and communities. Comprising both Industry Criteria and Destination Criteria, these standards provide guiding principles for different tourism-related entities, offering detailed instructions for hotels/accommodations, tour operators/agencies, and destination management.

The GSTC Criteria, based on four pillars – Sustainable Management, Socioeconomic Impacts, Cultural Impacts, and Environmental Impacts – promote a holistic approach to sustainability. By addressing critical areas such as resource use, pollution reduction, and biodiversity conservation, these standards support responsible and ethical tourism practices worldwide.

Importantly, the GSTC Criteria not only serve as guidelines for sustainability but also facilitate practical implementation through accreditation programs. Certification Bodies, accredited by the GSTC, play a crucial role in certifying entities that uphold sustainable policies and practices. While the GSTC does not directly certify products or services, its accreditation program ensures that Certification Bodies meet specific standards, fostering trust and credibility within the industry.

Moreover, some of the standards recognized by the GSTC (sustainable tourism standards that comply with and are equivalent to the GSTC Criteria) include Travelife, EarthCheck, Qualmark, Indonesia Sustainable Tourism, and GreenKey. These standards align closely with the GSTC Criteria, ensuring consistency and coherence in sustainability efforts across different contexts.

In the Indonesian context, the adoption of GSTC Criteria for destinations underscores the government’s commitment to sustainable tourism development. Ministerial regulations, such as Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Regulation No. 9 of 2021, highlight the crucial role of GSTC Criteria in guiding the sustainable development of tourism destinations in Indonesia.

Looking ahead, the GSTC remains committed to continually refining and enhancing its criteria, in line with standards set by the ISEAL Alliance. The upcoming development of criteria for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) and Attractions reflects the council’s proactive approach towards advancing sustainability in all aspects of the tourism industry.

These are brief details about the GSTC standard and its dynamic nature. For those seeking deeper insights into the GSTC Criteria and best practices, staying informed through newsletters is essential. By keeping up with the weekly releases of the WSC newsletter, stakeholders can gain valuable knowledge and guidance, ensuring their continued commitment to sustainable tourism practices.



Muhammad Sofyan Hadi
Business Analyst Wise Steps Consulting