September 11, 2009


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."
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.

Source: Rainforest Alliance: /news.cfm?id=gstc_stsc_merge

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