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).
In 2018, Hilton launched ambitious new Travel with Purpose 2030 Goals to redefine sustainable travel by cutting its environmental footprint in half and doubling its social impact investment by 2030. With this commitment, Hilton became the first major hotel company to set science-based targets to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. Hilton also set the goal to adopt a global standard for responsible travel and tourism to compliment the company’s existing ISO certifications.
To achieve GSTC Recognition, Hilton developed a Responsible Travel and Tourism Guide that leverages the existing capabilities of LightStay to apply the GSTC Criteria across its management system. The Guide compliments LightStay’s current functionalities to address the key areas of responsible travel and tourism that hotels must adhere to in order to achieve GSTC certification.
“Hilton has been taking a strong lead among hotel brands in applying meaningful and fact-based sustainability practices into their management approaches by the development of their internal LightStay program and adherence to three relevant ISO standards. We are proud to have them formally confirm LightStay’s compliance with the GSTC Criteria by undergoing the process of GSTC Recognition of LightStay,” says Randy Durband, GSTC CEO. “This confirms that their program is holistic and adheres to established universal principles for sustainable hotel management.”
“We are honored to see LightStay recognized by GSTC. In advance of our company’s 100th anniversary, we set ourselves on a mission to redefine sustainable travel. To succeed in this ambition, we are committed to adopting the highest standards for responsible travel and tourism,” said Caitrin O’Brien, senior manager, corporate sustainability, Hilton. “GSTC Recognition is the most respected seal of approval for sustainable travel and tourism practices, and we are looking forward to working further with GSTC to bring the best of sustainable travel and tourism to our guests around the world.”
Currently, 11 destination standards, 30 hotel standards, and 30 tour operator standards have achieved GSTC-Recognized status. The status offers the market a proof that these standards adhere to international norms GSTC Recognition does not ensure that a certification process is reliable, only that the set of standards used to certify are equivalent to the GSTC Criteria. GSTC-Recognized standard owners are encouraged to complete the Accreditation process, which assures that the certification process used to apply the standard meets international best practice, transparent, and rigor.