TourCert Journal

Inspiring change: Insights into the Tourism Audit Office


As a component of the ‚Tourism Impact Alliance‘ project, the Tourism Audit Office was established through collaboration among global certification bodies, standard owners and destinations. Its primary objective is to conduct impartial and highly professional audits based on sustainability standards. The diverse service portfolio offered by the Audit Office has gained even more heightened relevance in the last months, notably aligning with the growing market demands, particularly in compliance with the requirements outlined in the EU Green Claims Directive

In the subsequent interview, Johannes Mäding, Coordinator of the Tourism Audit Office, provides insight into the inception, current market experiences, and shares a glimpse into the future direction of the Audit Office.

Johannes Mäding, Tourism Audit Office

Johannes, you serve as the coordinator of the Audit Office. Could you please provide a brief introduction about yourself?
After my diploma in tourism management, I gathered experience with various study tours operators. After 9/11, I turned to destination marketing and finally run my own business for marketing events. As a lecturer, I was assigned to audit study programs for the Foundation for International Business Administration Accreditation (FIBAA). After securing the eco-certification of a regional fruit juice company, I combined tourism and certification in becoming head of operations with the certification body ECOCAMPING. As part of their digitalization strategy, I piloted the Audit Manager software. This collaboration with TourCert led to the opportunity to serve the certification community as the service hub in audit operations and digital tools.

Can you explain the role and purpose of the Audit Office in the context of the tourism industry?
The Audit Office is the joint venture of the relevant certification standards around the globe to provide impartial audits on an (soon to be) accredited standard. It allows standard owners to focus on profitable coaching and to receive efficient, digital, standardized audits. The collaboration saves efforts and money on accreditation applications. Together, we want to boost trust in certification and spread certification in the tourism industry remarkably.

In the current state of the tourism sector, why is there a pressing need for an Audit Office?
The Audit Office provides solutions for two forthcoming market demands closely associated with the implications of the EU Green Claims Directive. In order to increase the number of certified businesses and empower consumers, certification standards must demonstrate that audits are conducted by third-party entities and that their standards and procedures are accredited. By entrusting audits to the Audit Office, certification bodies adhere to the required impartiality. As individual accreditations are time-consuming and costly, we offer to be part of the application of the Audit Office for a joint accreditation.

What specific services does the Audit Office offer to address the challenges in the tourism industry?
We offer trained auditors and auditor trainings. We recommend engaging our services for an end-to-end handling of audits, which may encompass certification processes and decisions. Additionally, we offer access to digital tools such as the Audit Manager Software and provide ongoing support, tailored training sessions, and customized audit procedure designs along with templates. We intend to offer our knowledge to improve evaluation tasks in tourism or to verify claims on sustainability. This involves fostering community networking and developing robust business standards.

Based on your initial interactions with clients, what has been the feedback and experience with the services provided by the Audit Office?
The feedback so far is encouraging. There is a need for affordable auditor training and even more for auditors. Currently, we digitalize a number of certification procedures and will take over audithandling for several certification bodies. But the most important topic is the urgent need for accreditation, and we are working hard to serve this need as soon as possible.

Looking forward, how do you envision the trajectory of the Audit Office in the next five years?
By the end of the decade, our digital tools will be common sense. The Audit Office will serve the major certification standards in tourism and consumers will acknowledge our joint initiative as the relevant standard. Furthermore, by the decade’s close, the Audit Office will have solidified its role as a trusted partner actively involved in reshaping the tourism sector towards regenerative practices aligned with the United Nations‘ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Would you like to discuss matters with Johannes Mäding about the Audit Office? He eagerly awaits your message!

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The Tourism Impact Alliance is co-funded by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs – SECO of Switzerland.

Sustainable tourism, tourism impact alliance