Madrid, 22 January 2020: The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative is officially announced today by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. This initiative unites the tourism sector behind a common vision to tackle the root causes of plastic pollution, enabling businesses and governments to take joint action.

The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative is ground-breaking and ambitious in its goals. It aims to reduce the amount of plastic pollution caused by the tourism sector. To achieve this vision, tourism companies and destinations will be required to make a set of concrete and actionable commitments by 2025, including to: 

  • Eliminate problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging and items by 2025; 
  • Take action to move from single-use to reuse models or reusable alternatives by 2025; 
  • Engage the value chain to move towards 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable, or compostable; 
  • Take action to increase the amount of recycled content across all plastic packaging and items used; 
  • Commit to collaborate and invest to increase the recycling and composting rates for plastics; 
  • Report publicly and annually on progress made towards these targets. 

Plastic pollution is one of the major environmental challenges of our time, and tourism has an important role to play in contributing to the solution

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is pleased to announce the release of the GSTC Destination Criteria v2.0, which had been under development for most of 2019.
GSTC Criteria serve as the global baseline standards for sustainability in travel and tourism. The Criteria are used for education and awareness-raising, policy-making for businesses and government agencies and other organization types, measurement and evaluation, and as a basis for certification. To date, two sets of GSTC Criteria have been developed: Destination Criteria and Industry Criteria. They are the result of a worldwide effort to develop a common language about sustainability in tourism. They are arranged in four pillars: (1) Sustainable management; (2) Socioeconomic impacts; (3) Cultural impacts; and (4) Environmental impacts (including consumption of resources, reducing pollution, and conserving biodiversity and landscapes).

Athens, 20 January 2020 - The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) has announced a new sustainable tourism seminar in Athens, through the GSTC’s Sustainable Tourism Training Program (STTP).

According to Sustainability Leaders, this particular seminar is the most recognised and trustworthy training program globally for certifying professionals in the field of Sustainable Tourism. Recent statements by the Greek Ministry of Tourism reveal that Sustainability will be one pillar, perhaps the most important, of the new national 10 Year Tourism Strategy while education and certification of individuals in the principles of sustainability and global affairs also becomes a primary objective!


The GSTC 2019 Global Sustainable Tourism Conference “Navigating the Way Forward” that took place on December 4th-7th in Terceira Island, the Azores, brought together 250 delegates from 42 countries, along with hundreds of viewers that watched the live broadcasting of the conference.

The Conference themes were: (A) Sustainable Destination Management; (B) Market Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainable Products; and (C) Tourism Response to Climate Change

“Our challenge is twofold: we need to create effective and practical tools to mainstream sustainability in tourism and to convince those skeptical decision-makers, who are not ready nor convinced, to evolve from their ‘business as usual’ methods. This has been our goal at the Global Sustainable Tourism Council for the last 12 years,” said GSTC Chair, Mr. Luigi Cabrini, mentioned the following achievements of GSTC: The Criteria for Destinations and the Industry are widely recognized by the public and the private sectors as relevant instruments to inform strategies and planning of central and regional governments, destinations, hotel chains, tour operators, etc. The Accreditation Program for certification bodies is steadily progressing despite its novelty when compared with other sectors and the difficulties deriving from the complexity and the transverse nature of the tourism chain. Every year several hundreds of people with responsibilities in tourism receive training, tailored to their needs, on the use of the criteria. Finally, the GSTC has made important steps forward to position sustainable tourism in the markets, a key factor for any change to be relevant at the global level.
“Of course, much remains to be done and we are just one of the many organizations committed, in different ways, to promote and to implement more responsible practices in a difficult context,” concluded Mr. Cabrini (full speech). 

Madrid, 5 December 2019: Airlines, oil companies, and individuals are using voluntary carbon markets to achieve net reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at levels not seen in seven years, according to Financing Emissions Reductions for the Future: State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2019, which was published by Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace initiative today at year-end climate talks (COP25) in Madrid, Spain.

“Companies feel an urgency to reduce their emissions, but they can’t eliminate them internally overnight,” said Michael Jenkins, President and CEO of Forest Trends. “Many are now using voluntary carbon markets to offset those emissions they can’t eliminate until they can transition to new technologies.”

London, 18 November, 2019 - Travelife for Accommodation, an international accommodation sustainability certification scheme, and Ecotourism Kenya, a regional sustainability label, have signed an agreement to collaborate on certification for accommodation providers in Kenya. This collaboration will enable Kenyan properties to achieve both the Ecotourism Kenya label and the internationally recognised Travelife Gold Certification after an onsite audit that will be conducted by auditors working for Ecotourism Kenya that have been specially trained by Travelife.

"By collaborating with Travelife, we are making it simpler for Kenyan accommodation providers to demonstrate their commitment to operating responsibly at an international and local level so that visitors to Kenya can rely on Travelife and Ecotourism Kenya certification." said Grace Nderitu, CEO of Ecotourism Kenya.

November 18, 2019 – The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is pleased to announce that Hilton’s corporate responsibility management system has achieved ‘GSTC-Recognized Standard’ status.

Hilton is the first major hotel company to achieve this recognition. In 2009, Hilton launched LightStay, its award-winning platform that enables the company to track its environmental and social impact across its entire global portfolio of nearly 6,000 managed and franchised hotels. Originally designed to track environmental data, LightStay has evolved to measure, manage and report all of Hilton’s environmental and social metrics.

LightStay tracks energy, carbon, water and waste data, as well as social impact metrics including local sourcing, youth training and volunteer hours. LightStay also captures detailed information on hotels’ operational practices and sustainability certifications, and provides localized risk indices on the most material issues for the company, such as disaster vulnerability, water risk or modern slavery risk, to inform each hotel’s priorities. Through the use of LightStay, every property in Hilton’s portfolio is certified to ISO 9001 (Quality Management), ISO 14001 (Environmental Management) and ISO 50001 (Energy Management).

Washington, DC (31 October 2019) Today, the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) released a new tourism industry study, The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics 2019.

This landmark report includes a special focus on impact tourism, providing cutting-edge examples of how tourism businesses, travelers, and organizations are making strategic contributions of time, talent, and treasure to social and environmental projects in destinations. It finds that when done responsibly, impact tourism is a vital tool for fostering community development and promoting conservation.

14 October 2019: The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is pleased to announce that, one of the world’s leading digital travel platforms, has officially joined as a member of GSTCs global network. Representing a wide range of tourism stakeholders, GSTC members are active drivers for sustainability in travel and tourism and contribute to the important work of the GSTC in promoting the widespread adoption of universal sustainable tourism principles. 

Helping protect and preserve destinations around the globe so that travellers can continue to enjoy them for generations to come has been a priority for for several years and is one of the key strategic focus areas for the company.’s existing sustainability efforts include an employee volunteer initiative, now going into its sixth year, that supports destination improvement projects all over the world, as well as an accelerator programme and other funding initiatives that support a wide range of social enterprises and innovative projects in sustainable travel with grants and mentorship to help scale their impact.

Green Flag Trails Auditor Training, Kythera

Kythera, Greece (2 October 2019) - Kythera island, Greece will become the first hiking destination in Europe to apply the international Green Flag Trails system of trail auditing, a sustainability mark being implemented by the World Trails Network, to increase the sustainability and marketability of trails around the world.

From October 4 to October 11, trail experts from Greece, Portugal, France, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Russia, Armenia, Georgia, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Kenya will gather on the island of Kythera, Greece, in order to participate at the Green Flag Trails Auditor Training Course, the first of its kind in Europe. The training is hosted by the World Trails Network, with the support of the Kytherian Foundation for Culture and Development. During the training, Kythera Trails, the official trails network of Kythera, will be audited and awarded with the Green Flag Trails Certificate.

Green Flag Trails is a certification that recognises trails for their accurate data, environmental responsibility and sustainable management. It focuses on sustainability and responsibility towards hiking and walking tourists and aims to stimulate ecotourism. Green Flag Trails is a scientifically based trail auditing system, developed over a 15 year period by professor of ecotourism, Dr Leon Hugo. The system has been applied and tested in 6 different countries to date, including Nepal, South Africa and Peru.