World’s leading travel & tourism Certification Organisations collaborate to meet growing demand for sustainability

At the commencement of 2024, leading sustainable travel & tourism certification organisations formed a collaboration to address better practices and improve cooperation across the globe.

Representatives from the organisations which took part in the meeting in Copenhagen. From left to right: Billy Bishop (Travelife for Accommodation, Daniel Schaffer (Foundation for Environmental Education), Patricio Azcárate Díaz de Losada (Responsible Tourism Institute), Elissa Keenan (Ecotourism Australia), Naut Kusters, (Travelife for tour operators), Birte Pelayo (Green Globe Certification), Gary Graham (Green Key Global), Albert Salman (Green Destinations), Marco Giraldo (TourCert)

These certification organisations and their related educational and training bodies include Biosphere: Instituto de Turismo Responsable; Blue Flag; Ecotourism Australia; Good Travel Seal; Green Globe Certification, Green Key: Foundation for Environmental Education; Green Key Global; TourCert; Travelife for Accommodation; and Travelife for Tour Operators

For more than 30 years, these leading certification organisations have been responsible for developing internationally accepted sustainability criteria, constituting the industry-recognised standard for sustainable tourism. Collectively these organisations have certified more than 19,000 of the world’s leading travel and tourism enterprises, organisations, and destinations.

The hallmark of these certifications has been and continues to be, a focus on transparency, integrity and credibility. This inclusive approach is underpinned by the combined knowledge of industry professionals, academia, quality assurance auditors, destination managers and regulators. All stakeholders contribute and benefit from the ongoing development processes, providing a common platform that neither favours nor discriminates, but promotes the continuous improvement of sustainable performance by all. 

As leading sustainability certifiers, these organisations have ensured that the criteria and indicators of the industry-recognised standard have been developed for use in various countries, regions, and geographies. This process has allowed the travel and tourism industry to comply with the standard, via actions that contribute to the sustainability of the communities in which they operate and on which their activity has a direct and indirect impact, promoting more respectful and resilient business models.

The travel and tourism industry and destinations have for many years relied on the indisputable veracity of the professional services delivered by these certification organisations. These organisations’ certification services are underpinned by a quality management approach and assured by independent verification inspections.

Over decades and today, many thousands of travel and tourism enterprises, organisations and destinations utilise the certifications provided by these organisations to prove ESG practices to shareholders, investors, governments, and destination managers. Recently, sustainability’s remarkable rise in popularity with travel consumers has led to an unprecedented demand for certification by many more businesses and destinations.

With the rapidly growing appreciation of sustainability’s immeasurable value, certification organisations have come together to ensure that core values, along with criteria and indicators that define sustainable tourism, are not diluted, or manipulated.

Furthermore, on behalf of their clients and members, the organisations will work collectively to satisfy the requirements of emerging consumer protection legislation such as the European Union Green Claims Directive.

Additionally, this collaboration of certification organisations looks forward to discussing and aligning approaches to future legislation, reporting standards and other requirements relating to sustainable tourism certification.  

Concerning their historical roles as founders and developers of the knowledge and practices that have grown sustainable tourism, the certification organisations are dedicated to further fostering a global industry that thrives on sustainability. This includes the development of frameworks and pathways that encourage all enterprises to engage sustainability as a driver for their business. The fundamental goal is to provide transparent, achievable, and affordable solutions for the industry, and assist them in meeting the challenges of operating sustainably and achieving continuous improvement.

This new level of collaboration by certification organisations will further empower travel and tourism to embrace sustainability through rigorous certifications, and promote destinations that endorse eco-friendly practices, support local communities, and preserve cultural richness. To this end, the certification organisations will continue to guarantee that their professional services are provided fairly and affordably across all sectors and to all businesses, including micro and small-to-medium-sized enterprises, that make up the great majority of the travel and tourism industry.