TourCert Journal

World’s Leading Travel & Tourism Certification Organisations Collaborate to Meet Growing Demand for Sustainability

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TourCert is thrilled to announce its role in a global collaboration of leading certification organisations dedicated to developing and upholding industry-recognised standards for sustainable tourism. This significant milestone highlights the importance of TourCert’s international efforts within the „Tourism Impact Alliance,“ funded by SECO, to collaborate on certification processes and harmonize standards for measuring sustainability and impact. By joining forces with these respected partners, we collectively enhance our capacity to drive global sustainability initiatives and demonstrate our commitment to creating a more sustainable future by providing transparent, achievable, and affordable solutions for the industry. 

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

About TourCert
The independent certification organization TourCert gGmbH was founded in 2009 with the mission of promoting ecological, social, and economic responsibility in tourism. TourCert advises and supports tourism businesses and destinations in implementing sustainable and successful business practices, offering training through seminars and online courses provided by the TourCert Academy. Additionally, the company certifies and awards the TourCert Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Seal in tourism, along with the TourCert Qualified designation.

Inspiring change: The Tourism Impact Alliance
The Tourism Impact Alliance is an international project tackling the challenge of navigating over 150 tourism sustainability labels with varying standards. Its goal is to harmonize these standards and enhance the measurability of sustainability performance. The project includes an impact model featuring core indicators to facilitate comparability among certified businesses and destinations, thereby enhancing sustainability impacts. Simultaneously, it aims to foster greater collaboration among certification organizations, promote digitalization, innovation, and collaborative approaches in certification and auditing practices. The Tourism Impact Alliance is implemented by TourCert in collaboration with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and co-financed by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

The Tourism Audit Office
TourCert has established a structurally independent auditing firm, the Tourism Audit Office. In the future, TourCert will collaborate with this internationally operating Audit Office for all certifications. At its core is a cooperative approach open to all certification organizations in tourism. Since the accreditation process is very labor-intensive and costly, the independent Audit Office offers a manageable path to high-quality and accredited certifications through collaboration. Continuous exchange of experiences and knowledge, dissemination of best practices and innovative audit methods, and strengthening global cooperation are particularly important in this endeavor. 

The management system of the Tourism Audit Office is based on ISO 17065, ensuring adherence to the highest standards of quality and transparency. The next step involves accreditation by the German National Accreditation Body, which provides globally recognized accreditation.  

World's leading certifiers for sustainable tourism work together.

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Sustainable tourism

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