Press Releases

Hostelworld Joins Forces with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council to Create a New Sustainability Framework for the Hostel Industry

Hostelworld, the Online Travel Agent for the hostelling category has unveiled a new framework dedicated to communicating and elevating sustainability practices in the industry, marking a significant step towards a greener future for travel. Developed in partnership with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), the ‘Staircase to Sustainability’ framework introduces a first of its kind universal measurement system tailored for hostels which addresses the sector’s unique challenges and opportunities.

Hostels, by design, offer a highly sustainable accommodation option for travellers. Their shared accommodation set up results in reduced water and electricity consumption, while their use of shared kitchens means there is considerably less food, plastic and packaging wastage. Hostels also play a vital role in acting as community guardians, actively promoting authentic local experiences, working with local suppliers and organising volunteering opportunities that contribute to the betterment of the local community.

New research from Bureau Veritas and Hostelworld published today highlights that hostels are leading the way in providing a sustainable accommodation option for travellers, revealing that hostels emit 82 per cent less carbon compared to hotel counterparts.

A survey of Hostelworld’s hostel partners also reveals that although 85 per cent of hostels either participate in sustainability initiatives or have expressed interest in doing so, they face challenges in communicating their efforts and the impact of their existing sustainability practices.

Recognising the need for formal recognition in a sector that is already deeply committed to sustainability, the ‘Staircase to Sustainability’ framework aims to provide hostels with a clear pathway to communicate their sustainability management practices, as well as recognise their socio-economic, cultural and environmental impact.

Divided into four levels, and aligning directly with the established sustainable tourism criteria of the GSTC, the ‘Staircase to Sustainability’ is designed to not only help hostels identify any gaps in their current sustainability practices and guide them to moving up the ‘staircase’ to secure a formal certification, but to also celebrate the incredible work already being done in the category. Hostels that sign up to the framework will be subject to auditing by a third party, from level two upwards, speaking to the high standard it sets for participating hostels.

The framework also serves as an accessible guide for the climate-conscious traveller looking to make informed choices when selecting accommodation, removing hours of research as well as any potential guesswork. For every level of criteria achieved, a hostel will be awarded the relevant sustainability Badge on Hostelworld’s website. Travellers can now also search for sustainable hostels using Hostelworld’s new sustainability filter.

On launch day, 1,000 hostels will proudly display a Level One badge on their Hostelworld profile, signifying that positive sustainability practices are already being incorporated, while an additional 219 will have achieved Level Two and a further 9 hostels will be at Level Three.

Commenting on the launch of the ‘Staircase to Sustainability’, Caroline Sherry, CFO and ESG Lead at Hostelworld said: While there is a sustainability framework for hotels, our hostel partners have voiced that the existing frameworks do not adequately address the unique characteristics of the independent hostel market. This is why over the past 18 months we’ve dedicated our time, working in close partnership with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, to craft this pioneering framework for the hostelling sector. The unwavering support and willingness of the GSTC to deep dive into the distinct needs of hostels has been instrumental in shaping this framework.

Randy Durband, Global Sustainable Tourism Council, CEO comments on the new framework, Hostels have historically been, and continue to be, an excellent sustainable option when travelling. We congratulate Hostelworld for this framework in line with the GSTC Criteria. Having hostels continue on their sustainability path in a comprehensive, step-by-step, and achievable manner is a commitment to a more sustainable future.

GSTC Attraction Criteria 1st Public Consultation is Now Open

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council® (GSTC®) announced in April 2023 the development of new criteria sets, GSTC MICE Criteria and GSTC Attraction Criteria, with support from the Singapore Tourism Board STB. 

The GSTC MICE Criteria (covering Venues, Event Organizers, and Events/Exhibitions) and GSTC Attraction Criteria aim to serve as the global sustainability standards for these respective industries.

The first public consultation period for the GSTC Attraction Criteria has begun and will remain open until the 15th of March, 2024 (60 days). Professionals and practitioners in the attraction sector are invited to share insights during the first public consultation phase of the GSTC Attraction Criteria.

The GSTC Attraction Criteria includes four sections: Section A (Demonstrate effective sustainable management); Section B (Maximize social and economic benefits to the local community and minimize negative impacts); Section C (Maximize benefits to cultural heritage and minimize negative impacts) and Section D (Maximize benefits to the environment and minimize negative impacts).

You are more than welcome to make your comments on the whole criteria set here: 

Or if you would like to comment on one specific section that you feel most confident, please click on the links below:

After the first public consultation period is over, a compiling and revision will be made which will be reviewed during the feasibility assessment followed by drafting revisions as needed.

To know more about GSTC Criteria Development, Feedback, and Revision, please check this page.

Kenya: Are carbon credits behind Ogiek evictions?

Three leading human rights organizations have released a statement denouncing Kenya’s illegal evictions of the Ogiek people, and highlighting the role conservation projects and carbon credits could play in such land thefts.

In the statement, Survival International, Amnesty International and Minority Rights Group note that “Indigenous peoples cannot be evicted without their free, prior, and informed consent, and that evictions without such consent are [...] unlawful.”

An estimated 167 Ogiek houses, including a school, have been destroyed in the Mau Forest, in just the latest wave of a series of evictions which have been going on for years.

Daniel Kobei, Executive Director of the Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program said: “This is a government eating its own children.”

The evictions also violate two groundbreaking rulings of the African Court.

The organizations point out that Kenya recently signed agreements that will pave the way for reforestation as well as the production of carbon credits on millions of hectares of land.

These projects, and other moves to expand the carbon credits market in the Global South, are expected to greatly increase the theft of Indigenous peoples’ lands; increase funding for violent fortress conservation projects; and will likely lead to many more waves of evictions.

The full statement is presented below:

Joint statement on forced evictions of Indigenous Peoples in Kenya - November 2023

The signatory organisations call on the government of Kenya to immediately cease all evictions in the Mau Forest, as they are in violation of Kenyan law, as well as the judgements of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in the Ogiek case.

We note that Indigenous Peoples cannot be evicted without their free, prior, and informed consent and that evictions without such consent amount to forced evictions, which are both unlawful under domestic law and a gross violation of international and regional human rights laws. We call on the Kenyan government to respect the rights of the Ogiek people, including their land rights, and to remedy the harms that have already been committed.

More than 700 people have been rendered homeless in the Mau Forest as part of this eviction drive. Many of the inhabitants, including children and people with disabilities, have reportedly refused to leave their land and are currently living in the open, exposed to the elements.

Daniel Kobei, Executive Director of the Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program said: “This is a government eating its own children shamelessly”.

The Kenyan government has listed concerns over the environment and protection against “human encroachment” as a reason for its actions. We note however, that repeated studies have shown that Indigenous Peoples are the best guardians of their lands. The ground-breaking African Court judgement in the Ogiek case confirmed that there is no evidence that the government can conserve biodiversity in the Mau Forest better than the Ogiek are already doing, and that conservation cannot be used as an excuse for eviction of Indigenous Peoples from their ancestral lands.

We also caution against the escalation of these and other abuses against the Ogiek and other Indigenous Peoples in the light of a recent loan, which the Kenyan government has agreed with the International Monetary Fund to increase forest cover, coinciding with the President’s announcement that all “water towers” (major forest landscapes) in the country would be fenced off and all human presence removed.

We further note the recent announcement of a government initiative to trade carbon credits on millions of hectares in Kenya. We call on the government to clarify whether the Ogiek evictions are linked to this initiative. Forest-based carbon projects are particularly problematic as they often target Indigenous Peoples and their ways of life rather than the true drivers of the climate crisis. While there is mounting evidence that existing offsetting schemes have failed to mitigate against climate change, they have already had a detrimental impact on Indigenous Peoples’ lives and land rights in Kenya and beyond.

We stress that any forest conservation initiative connected to the forced eviction of Indigenous Peoples is illegal and in violation of international law. We cannot protect our planet without recognizing and respecting Indigenous Peoples' rights to their lands.

EU Commission proposes comprehensive monitoring of European forests

The EU Commission is proposing a Forest Monitoring Law that will plug existing gaps in the information on European forests and create a comprehensive forest knowledge base, to allow Member States, forest owners and forest managers to improve their response to growing pressures on forests and strengthen forest resilience.

Forests are an essential ally in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss, and crucial for flourishing rural areas and bioeconomy. Unfortunately, Europe's forests suffer from many different pressures, including climate change and unsustainable human activity. 

Better monitoring will enable action to make forests more resistant to the cross-border threats of pests, droughts and wildfires that are exacerbated by climate change, enable new business models such as carbon farming, and support compliance with agreed EU legislation. Ultimately, it will help strengthen the capacity of forests to fulfil their multiple environmental and socio-economic functions, including their role as natural carbon sinks.

Better data, improved resilience, new economic opportunities

The monitoring framework will enable the collection and sharing of timely and comparable forest data obtained through a combination of Earth Observation technology and ground measurements. Building on existing national efforts, the framework will offer better data and knowledge for decision making and policy implementation, including more up-to-date information on natural disturbances and forest disasters across Member States.

Currently, available information on the state of forests and the use of forest resources and services is scattered and incomplete, data on EU forests is often outdated and produced using diverging definitions, resulting in significant knowledge gaps. A comprehensive monitoring system will address those inconsistencies.

The framework will help to create an integrated forest governance, by ensuring cooperation among Member States, and by encouraging them to set up long-term forest plans, taking into account all the relevant policy dimensions and the multi-functionality of forests. The proposal does not introduce new direct administrative requirements for businesses, forest owners and foresters.

The framework will bring economic benefits as it will support forest managers to market their ecosystem services, such as carbon removals, under the EU Carbon Removal Certification Framework. Based on more credible and accessible data, forest managers and forest owners will be able to develop new business opportunities that will provide additional income, while at the same time scaling up carbon farming and contributing to climate mitigation and adaptation. The new law will also support a new market for providers of digital monitoring services, including a high number of SMEs and innovative start-ups.

Finally, the proposal will support the implementation of other key legislation, such as the LULUCF Regulation, Habitats and Birds Directives, Deforestation Regulation, as well as Carbon Removal Certification, and the Nature Restoration Law once adopted by the co-legislators. 

As part of its wider work under the EU Forest Strategy, the Commission also adopted today a proposal for an updated EU Forest Governance, which aims at creating a renewed, inclusive and inter-disciplinary Expert Group of Member States competent on all forest and forestry matters, reflecting all the environmental, social and economic objectives of the EU Forest Strategy.

Managing increasing pressures on forest

The proposal comes in the context of increasing pressures on forests. The Commission is publishing today a report on Forest Fires in Europe, Middle East and North Africa 2022, which shows that in 2022, nearly 900 000 ha of land was burnt in the EU, which corresponds to roughly the size of Corsica. 

For the third year in a row, unprecedented wildfire events caused large environmental and economic damage in the EU and tragic loss of life. While most of the fires (96%) are caused by human actions, they are aggravated by increased fire danger conditions driven by climate change. It is a warning signal of what global warming can bring about in the coming years, as temperatures increase, and droughts become more pronounced in many European countries. The report also shows that prevention measures play an important role in reducing the frequency and impact of the forest fires, and that updated knowledge is key to ensure it.

Next steps

The proposal will now be examined by the European Parliament and the Council under the ordinary legislative procedure.


Forests provide invaluable environment, climate and socio-economic benefits. They act as biodiversity hubs and habitats, provide oxygen release and air filtering, regulate waterflows, prevent erosion, and are indispensable for climate change adaptation and mitigation. They are a cornerstone of the transition to a climate-neutral Europe, the circular bioeconomy and a healthy society.  According to Commission studies, the extended forest-based value chains provide raw materials such as wood, food, medical plants, cork and resin and currently support 4.5 million jobs in the EU.

However, many forests in the EU are not in a good state overall. They are suffering from biodiversity loss and are heavily affected by climate change, aggravating and cumulating other destructive pressures such as pests, pollution and disease. Climate change also leads to conditions such as long periods of drought and heat that are likely to increase the extent and intensity of forest fires in the EU in the coming years. The consequences are taking a mounting toll on forest stability and productivity, while in parallel, the demand for forest products and services is growing. 

Reporting provided by Member States under the Land Use, Land Use Change, and Forestry (LULUCF) regulation shows that in several key areas across the European Union forests as a natural carbon sink are declining. In certain areas, forests have become a source of CO2 emissions.

To stay on track, the EU must strengthen the resilience of natural ecosystems, increase their ability to help us adapt to climate change and maintain their productive capacity to ensure lasting food and material security.

Today's initiatives and their targets rely on solutions provided by nature as our best ally in the fight against climate change. They will help the EU to deliver on climate neutrality by increasing the volume of carbon removed by natural sinks. This will also contribute to the EU upholding its international commitments under both the Paris Agreement and the Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework.

More information

UNWTO launches tourism climate financing facility

[Press Release] The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in joint collaboration with NOAH Regen, has taken a further step forward in rethinking tourism financing with the launch of the UN NetZero Facility and Re-PLANET Capital Fund Ecosystem. The launch took place on 14 November 2023 at the United Nations Headquarters, Geneva, marking a pivotal moment in the global campaign against climate change following the adoption of the Paris Agreement by 196 parties.

A new era of finance governance

The UN NetZero Facility and Re-PLANET Capital Fund Ecosystem aspire to foster a new era of global finance governance. This transformative initiative aims to unlock carbon value, incorporating concepts such as Blue Carbon and circular business models. The ecosystem is dedicated to catalysing positive change in the Blue and Green Economy sectors, transforming regeneration into not just an ecological necessity but also a profitable endeavour.

Key highlights of the framework include:

Blended Financial Ecosystem: A collaborative approach that integrates diverse funding sources, providing a solid foundation to address pressing climate challenges.

Blockchain Technology: Utilizing energy-efficient blockchain technology for transparent fund raising and transfer, ensuring real-time tracking and accountability.

Transparency and Accountability: Committed to unparalleled transparency, accountability, and auditability, ensuring the traceability of funds from inception to implementation.

Announcing the launch

The Director-General of the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG) Tatiana Valovaya said: “The UN NetZero Facility is designed to resonate with the 2030 Agenda which reflects the interconnectedness between human well-being and the health of the planet.”

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili says: “Tourism's transformation to low-carbon operations is our compass, let's make Net Zero our destination by 2050 - a journey for prosperity and a healthy Earth."

Frederic Degret, CEO of Noah adds: “We stand at a pivotal moment. The Re’planet Capital Fund, in compliance with Article 9 of SFDR, is not just a fund; it’s a catalyst for change, empowering investors to drive sustainable growth.”

Blended finance model

UNWTO's Multi-Partners Trust Fund, within the UN system, will offer advisory services and grants to accelerate global progress toward achieving net-zero carbon emissions. The Facility will operate on a blended finance model and is set to leverage investments to transition toward building a climate-conscious economy.

The UN NetZero Facility and Re-PLANET Capital Fund Ecosystem will address some of the most capital-intensive climate issues, such as carbon credit quality and integrity, regulatory and market dynamics, and the monetization of sovereign nature-based and carbon credits.

55 new cities join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network on World Cities Day

55 new cities join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network on World Cities Day

On World Cities Day, 55 cities join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN), following their designation by UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. New cities were acknowledged for their strong commitment to harnessing culture and creativity as part of their development strategies, and displaying innovative practices in human-centred urban planning. With the latest additions, the Network now counts 350 cities in more than one hundred countries, representing seven creative fields: Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts and Music.
The new members of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network are: 

Asaba – Film
Ashgabat – Design
Banja Luka – Music
Battambang – Gastronomy 
Bissau – Music
Bolzano – Music
Bremen – Literature 
Buffalo City – Literature
Bukhara – Crafts and Folk Art
Bydgoszcz – Music 
Caen – Media Arts
Caracas – Music 
Casablanca – Media Arts
Castelo Branco – Crafts and Folk Art
Cetinje – Design 
Chaozhou – Gastronomy
Chiang Rai – Design
Chongqing – Design 
Concepción – Music
Da Lat – Music
Fribourg – Gastronomy 
Gangneung – Gastronomy
Granada[1] – Design 
Gwalior – Music 
Herakleion – Gastronomy 
Hobart – Literature 
Hoi An – Crafts and Folk Art
Iasi – Literature 
Iloilo City – Gastronomy
Ipoh – Music 
Kathmandu – Film
Kozhikode – Literature
Kutaisi – Literature 
Mexicali – Music 
Montecristi – Crafts and Folk Art
Montreux – Music
Nkongsamba – Gastronomy
Novi Sad – Media Arts
Okayama – Literature
Ouarzazate – Film 
Oulu – Media Arts
Penedo – Film 
Rio de Janeiro – Literature
Şanlıurfa – Music 
Suphanburi – Music 
Surakarta – Crafts and Folk Art
Taif – Literature 
Toulouse – Music
Tukums – Literature
Ulaanbaatar – Crafts and Folk Art
Umngeni Howick – Crafts and Folk Art
Valencia – Design
Varaždin – Music
Veliky Novgorod – Music
Vicente Lopez – Film
The city of Lyon, Creative City of Media Arts since 2008, has been granted a status of a Creative City of Literature, following its request to change creative field.

Newly designated cities will cooperate with Network members to strengthen their resilience the face of evolving threats such as climate change, rising inequality, as well as rapid urbanization, with 68% of the world’s population projected to live in urban areas by 2050[2]. 

“The cities in our Creative Cities Network are leading the way when it comes to enhancing access to culture and galvanizing the power of creativity for urban resilience and development,” says Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General.

An upcoming policy paper – “The added value of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network at local, national and international level” – will testify to the leading role played by cities towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, while demonstrating ways in which UNESCO supports the UCCN members by fostering dialogue, peer-to-peer learning and collaboration.

The newly designated Creative Cities are invited to participate in the 2024 UCCN Annual Conference (1 - 5 July 2024) in Braga, Portugal, under the theme “Bringing Youth to the table for the next decade”

GSTC Partners with WTTC to Strengthen Global Hospitality Standards

GSTC Partners with WTTC to Strengthen Global Hospitality Standards

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) announce a major new partnership, aligning to establish a structured framework for hotel sustainability, leading to GSTC Certification.

The partnership endorses the existing WTTC Hotel Sustainability Basics whilst paving the way for a stepped progression toward GSTC Certification* for sustainable hotels.

In an era where sustainability is paramount, GSTC and WTTC are joining forces to send a potent message to the market regarding the coherence and collaboration in the Travel & Tourism sector.

The three-stage framework for hotel sustainability will now see the integration between the WTTC Hotel Sustainability Basics verification and GSTC Certification*, designed to support hotels in their pathway towards full sustainability. 

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “Collaborating with an esteemed body like GSTC reinforces our dedication to leading the industry towards a more sustainable future. It's imperative that we work with key global players like GSTC to drive change, set benchmarks, and inspire others to follow.

With members spanning across the world, GSTC's rigorous accreditation program not only elevates our initiative but also ensures that the hospitality sector worldwide moves toward a unified vision of sustainability.”

Randy Durband, CEO of GSTC, added, “WTTC Hotel Sustainability Basics is a finely crafted entry level for hotels of any size and type to begin their journey to sustainable practices. GSTC’s certification by GSTC-Accredited Certification Bodies is recognised widely as the gold standard in certification of sustainable hotels, with the highest levels of assurance that exists.

Today’s announcement of the combined pathway provides clarity for beginning and for continuous improvement. Stages must be just that, stages, and not levels to reach and stay in place.”

The WTTC Hotel Sustainability Basics are already accessible to the industry, and the next phase in collaboration with GSTC is scheduled to launch in 2024.

This will provide the crucial stepping stone between WTTC Hotel Sustainability Basics, a three-year programme, and GSTC’s rigorous certification, ensuring a gradual yet comprehensive progression towards sustainability in hospitality.

Are there sea turtle-friendly hotels in northern Crete?

Are there sea turtle-friendly hotels in northern Crete?

World Tourism Day 2023 finds ARCHELON, the sea turtle protection society of Greece, implementing together with TUI Care Foundation an innovative idea on the northern coasts of Crete: the "TUI Turtle-Friendly", a pilot certification for sea turtle-friendly hotels, aims to promote the protection of these wonderful reptiles and their habitats with the active participation of the tourism sector.

But why is tourism important to sea turtles?

“Scientific evidence shows that female loggerhead hatchlings will return as adults to nest at the same beaches they hatched from”, says the Thomas Arapis, president of ARCHELON. “So, in what condition will these beaches be in 15-20 years from now, when this year’s hatchlings will come back to nest?” he wonders.

ARCHELON has been actively monitoring the sea turtle nesting beaches in Zakynthos, Kyparissia Bay, Lakonikos Bay, Rethymno, Chania, and Messara Bay for 40 years now. Most of these areas that are surveyed daily by volunteers every summer are affected by tourism, while Zakynthos and Crete have become top global tourist destinations.

To reduce the impact of tourism on the nesting beaches, ARCHELON carries out public awareness actions through presentations in hotels and at the ARCHELON Information Stations. For example, from May to August around 10,200 visitors were informed by volunteers/researchers about protecting sea turtles in Rethymno and learned how turtles and tourists can live together. However, observations of intense human activity on nesting beaches lead to the conclusion that there can be no future for sea turtles without a more active involvement of the tourism sector. This is where this new hotel certification comes in to help.

The purpose of the TUI Turtle-Friendly Tourism Certification is to encourage sustainable development in tourism, by providing guidelines for businesses on the nesting beaches, and helping tourists make environmentally friendly choices for their accommodation and excursions. The main criteria that the hotels must meet are (a) that sunbeds are removed from the beach at night so that there is enough space for the 'mother' turtles to make their nests and (b) the lights of the hotels would not be visible from the beach so that the hatchlings do not get disoriented on their way to the sea.

The "TUI Turtle Aid Greece" project by TUI Care Foundation and ARCHELON began with the cooperation of 2 hotels in Rethymno this summer and is expected to be extended to Chania in the following years. In collaboration with the sustainable tourism consulting company Ecoclub S.A., the project is expected to support and guide selected hotels in the process of implementing the new certification.

Learn how you can help the sea turtles when you are on a nesting beach here
Support our sea turtle protection actions

Pousada Verra Verde
Pousada Verra Verde

Brazil: Pousada Serra Verde successfully completes Ecoclub Ecolodge™ Audit is pleased to announce the successful completion of the Ecoclub Ecolodge™ Audit for Pousada Serra Verde in Brazil. The audit was conducted remotely during the summer of 2023 and involved the examination of textual, photographic and video evidence provided by the proprietors.

Our team is satisfied that Pousada Serra Verde, first audited and accepted as an Ecoclub Ecolodge™ in June 2020, continues to meet our requirements and keeps improving their environmental and social policies and impacts. We have thus extended our recognition of Pousada Serra Verde as an Ecoclub Ecolodge™ for three more years to September 2026. Reacting to the news, proprietors Kemely and Jeff Parfrey'' said: "We are delighted to have been awarded Ecoclub Ecolodge™ status again. The process was thorough and made us review all areas of our business and related green initiatives. The Ecoclub Ecolodge™ process stands apart from many 'green' awards, which are often little more than paid for memberships and sad examples of 'greenwashing'. We would recommend this process to anyone who really wants to move towards genuine sustainability.''

You may find the Pousada Serra Verde Audit Report at  

Pousada Serra Verde (Web: ) is nestled in the foothills of the Picos do Marumbi close to the charming colonial town of Morretes. Here you can relax and unwind in beautiful surroundings, and really be at one with nature. Explore the rainforest, take a swim in the river or just chill out by the pool - the choice is yours. Enjoy the sights and sounds of nature surrounded by birds, flowers and butterflies.

Ecoclub Ecolodge™ is a free ecolabel for genuine Ecolodges. It is offered to eligible accommodation facilities following the successful completion of the Ecoclub Ecolodge™ Audit process.

You may find the facilities recognised as Ecoclub Ecolodges™ at   

The Ecoclub Ecolodge™ label criteria and process can be found at 

Canada: Sunshine Coast Tourism Visitor Centres Achieve Silver Sustainable Tourism Certification

Canada: Sunshine Coast Tourism Visitor Centres Achieve Silver Sustainable Tourism Certification

Sunshine Coast, British Columbia (August 28, 2023) - Sunshine Coast Tourism is pleased to announce that its Gibsons and Sechelt Visitor Centres have each received Silver Certification with GreenStep Sustainable Tourism, North America’s largest certification program for the tourism and hospitality industry. 

“Our objective when we took over the management of the Gibsons and Sechelt Visitor Centres was to elevate every aspect of operations,” explained Sunshine Coast Tourism Executive Director Annie Wise. “The Centres serve as the voice of our destination, and it’s crucial that voice echoes the core values of our communities. Our commitment to improving on all four pillars of sustainability is unwavering, and achieving GreenStep certification underscores our pledge to turn words into action and lead by example.”

Key initiatives that contributed to Silver Certification:

Launching the Sustainable Sunshine Coast campaign, a partnership managing local sustainable tourism capacity, educating visitors on responsible travel, and aiding the industry's sustainability through resources and programs.
Enhancing cultural awareness and acknowledgement of Indigenous Peoples and the First Nation communities of the Sunshine Coast amongst our staff, industry, and visitors to the destination, including mandatory training for staff. 
Providing on-site and online visitor education resources, covering topics like WildSafeBC, Safe Boating Guides, AdventureSmart, and water conservation.
Ensuring wheelchair-accessible facilities at both Visitor Centres, including parking, entry, washrooms, and reception desk.
Upholding staff welfare through employment standards, living wages, and continuous learning.
Prioritizing eco and socially sustainable suppliers for retail goods at Visitor Centres.
Using FSC Certified paper for Sunshine Coast Travel Guides.
Implementing recycling programs at both Visitor Centres.
Opting for energy-efficient fixtures and appliances like Energy Star-rated devices, low-flow faucets, toilets, and LED lighting.
To attain Silver Certification, both Visitor Centres underwent assessment by a GreenStep assessor. This process measured their practices against Global Sustainable Tourism Council-Recognized criteria aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goals. The certification, valid for two years (2023-2025), mandates re-certification for both Centres afterward. 

"We congratulate Sunshine Coast Tourism on achieving GreenStep Certification for both the Gibsons and Sechelt Visitor Centres. By measuring their sustainability performance against the 87 criteria and having their results verified by a GreenStep assessor, they have achieved the requirements and therefore the designation. Visitor Centres play a critical role in helping communicate destination and community values, and this latest achievement helps to showcase the efforts of current sustainability measures of today, while advancing efforts over time through the creation of a sustainability action plan. We look forward to following their progress through the implementation of their action plan in the coming years." - Jenn Burling, Director of Sustainable Tourism 

For more information about Sunshine Coast Tourism’s sustainability initiatives, please visit: