New Certification Focuses on People, Profit, and the Planet
Sustainable Travel International (STI), the global non-profit leader in providing market-tested sustainability solutions for the tourism industry, announces the launch of STEP 2.0 — its new version of the Sustainable Tourism Eco-certification Program™. STEP 2.0 is the world’s first comprehensive, global sustainable tourism eco-certification program offered by a non-profit organization. The program is now both affordable and aligned with the minimum baseline Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC).
“Now STEP 2.0 is applicable to tourism businesses of all sizes, including newcomers to sustainability, those wanting to improve their existing approach, and even businesses that have long-standing green programs,” explains Brian T. Mullis, president of Sustainable Travel International. “Our new certification program, which has taken seven years to develop, is differentiated from other programs because it is user-friendly, educational in nature, and is practical as a measurement and management tool. STEP has also been developed in consultation with worldwide stakeholders.”
STEP 2.0’s new structure encourages the tourism industry to undertake certification in a variety of easy to implement ways:
– Economical entry via a new pricing model that lowers cost barriers. For example, the new fee structure starts as low as US$150 to apply with scaled fees for application processing based on the number of employees or hotel rooms,
– Measurement and management factors that mirror tourism operational categories: Business Model, Guest Experience, Operations, Purchasing, Energy-Climate Management, Ecosystem Preservation, and Community Impacts,
– User-friendly criteria that allows applicants to expand their efforts over time: 1 point is awarded for an “Incubator” start-up criterion, 3 points are awarded for an “Initiative” or action-oriented criterion, and 9 points are awarded for an “Integrated” or incorporated criterion,
– Defined objectives by criteria and specific evidence required to verify compliance for on-site audits, should an applicant want to be recognized for compliance with the standard.
“The GSTC – based on thousands of best practices culled from the existing standards currently in use around the world – were developed to offer a common framework to guide the emerging practice of sustainable tourism and to help ensure that tourism helps, rather than harms, local communities and the environment,” explained Erika Harms, Executive Director of Sustainable Development for the United Nations Foundation, one of the initiators of the GSTC. “We are greatly encouraged to see eco-certification programs like STEP 2.0 embrace the GSTC.”
STI is a member of the Steering Committee of the Partnership for Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC Partnership) and has integrated the GSTC baseline criteria into STEP, while establishing STEP as the “Gold Standard” in sustainable tourism certification. STEP is bolstered by the globally recognizable Sustainable Travel International brand and market reach.
STEP is configured for the primary sectors of the travel and tourism industry including accommodations, attractions, transportation service providers, and tour operators. STEP addresses the triple bottom line of sustainable tourism and includes criteria that address people, profit and the planet. In addition, the program can be customized for destinations and trade associations to address their unique social, cultural, environmental and economic attributes, as well as regional goals and priorities.
For more information on the certification process, visit www.ecocertification.org or contact Brian T. Mullis (800-276-7764