The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) has announced that the Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Certification program has achieved ‘GSTC-Approved’ status.
Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Certification program is one of the first of three bodies to achieve GSTC Approval for its sustainable tourism certification of hotels and tour operators. This outstanding accomplishment exemplifies Ecotourism Australia’s commitment to promote sustainable tourism products and services.
Ecotourism Australia is a not for profit organization, formed in 1991, that is focused on inspiring environmentally sustainable and culturally responsible tourism. As the peak industry body for ecotourism in Australia, they manage sustainability certification programs for nature based tourism operators. Ecotourism Australia’s primary product development tool, ECO certification, certifies close to 500 Ecotourism operators across Australia according to measures including environmental responsibility, interpretation and contribution to conservation. It is a world recognised program, with a UNESCO World Heritage Centre MOU, and works closely with Protected Area Managers, State and Regional Tourism Organisations, Government Agencies and various other stakeholders.
“The acceptance of ECO certification as a GSTC Approved standard builds on the ECO certified tour operators’ deserved reputation for delivering high quality, sustainable best practice, tourism experiences that have true conservation benefits. GSTC Approval status brings further credibility to our well-respected and established brand, and raises its profile in the global arena. International guests can now recognise and choose with confidence high quality tour operators delivering true ecotourism experiences,” said Rod Hillman, CEO Ecotourism Australia.
In order to become a GSTC-Approved standard, a certification program is required to have previously completed the GSTC-Recognized process. “GSTC Recognized” means that the standards include the 41 GSTC Criteria, which were created as global baseline standards. “GSTC Approved” means that the independent, objective and neutral GSTC Accreditation Panel has determined that the processes and practices utilized by the owner of the standards are applied professionally and objectively. Attaining both levels speaks to compliance with the GSTC Criteria and to excellence in utilizing their own standards. The GSTC programs recognize and reward genuine practitioners of sustainable tourism, which in turn builds confidence and credibility with consumers.
Randy Durband, CEO GSTC, congratulated Ecotourism Australia on the achievement.
“Ecotourism Australia’s certification of travel products verifies to the traveling public that the claims of the travel provider are valid and based on EA’s independent, 3rd-party review of those claims. In the same manner, the ‘GSTC Approved’ mark indicates that an independent and neutral team of evaluators have determined that EA’s own processes for certifying travel products are transparent, impartial, and competent.”
To date, Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Certification program is one of the first of three bodies to achieve GSTC Approval for its sustainable tourism certification of hotels and tour operators. The completion of these step-wise programs rewards standard owners for their commitment to sustainability while offering the market benefit of proof that these national standards adhere to international norms.