Sustainable Travel International Launches STEP 2.0 -- Next Phase in Global Tourism Certification

May, 2009

 

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.org800-276-7764 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              800-276-7764      end_of_the_skype_highlighting / This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

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About Sustainable Travel International (STI): STI is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote sustainable development through responsible travel by providing programs that help travelers, businesses and destinations protect the environment, preserve cultural heritage and promote economic development. STI is dedicated to providing tangible, solutions-oriented programs and to taking a holistic approach to addressing sustainable development within the travel and tourism industries.  To learn more, visit www.sustainabletravel.com.

About the Partnership for Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria
: The Partnership for Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC Partnership) is a coalition of more than 30 organizations working together to foster increased understanding of sustainable tourism practices and the adoption of universal sustainable tourism principles. The Partnership was initiated by the Rainforest Alliance, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Foundation, and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). These criteria are the minimum standard that any tourism business should aspire to reach in order to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources while ensuring tourism meets its potential as a tool for poverty alleviation.   To learn more, visit www.sustainabletourismcriteria.org. or contact Brian T. Mullis (
 

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