Background on Certification

Certification is a key issue in the search for ways to make tourism more sustainable. It is a complex issue. Supporters argue that certification will force all tourism service providers to become more sustainable. Under this hypothesis, travelers will increasingly vote with their dollars or Euros, favoring the certified (sustainable) businesses and avoiding the uncertified ones. The uncertified will be forced to adopt the sustainable practices, or will be forced out of the industry. Detractors note that few travelers are asking about certifications when trips are planned. There is no real demand, and therefore no incentive for businesses to undergo certification. A certification can serve as marketing candy, but just about any certification will do.

One persisting problem with most of the certification schemes is that they have focused on destinations. Gradually more of the schemes have incorporated guidelines for tour operators, guides, and other support services close to the destination. But essentially no tourism certification scheme has tackled the complete chain or web of products and services that constitute the travel industry. One particularly challenging link in the travel industry chain is long-distance air travel.

For a concise summary of the topic, check out Ron Mader's "Stop the Steamroller" powerpoint presentation on the IMAC web site.

Acknowledgements: Marcus Endicot www.mendicot.com research and compiled the original list of certification links for a message he sent to the green-travel list on 28 June 2003. Kari Salovaara provided additional links. Suggestions, recommendations, corrections, and improvements are always welcome.

Links to Certification Programs

International Programs
ISO 14000. ISO 14000 is an international standard that sets guidelines for environmental management by any industry or enterprise. It is comprehensive in that a proper ISO 14000 certification requires that all suppliers and sub-contractors also achieve the ISO standards. In theory at least, if the travel industry as a whole could achieve ISO 14000, the narrower ecotourism certifications would be largely unnecessary.

Nature and Ecotourism Accreditation Program. Australia's Nature and Ecotourism Accreditation Program (NEAP) is worth examining because it has been proposed as the basis for an international standard.

Regional and National Programs
Blue Flag Campaign

Certification in Sustainable Tourism (Costa Rica) -- The Certification in Sustainable Tourism Program - CST - is a product of the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT). CST was designed to differentiate tourism sector businesses based on the degree to which they comply with a sustainable model of natural, cultural and social resource management. CST is regulated by the Costa Rican National Accreditation Commission and consists of a scale of 5 "levels" of sustainable tourism achievement.

Destination 21

Ecotel Hotel and Resort Certification

Ecotourism Society of Saskatchewan Horizons Accreditation Program in Canada.

Eco-certified Sustainable Travel Program

EUROPARC is the umbrella organisation of Europe's parks and protected areas.

Fiji Ecotourism Association certification in Fiji.

Green Deal

Green Globe 21

PAN Parks. PAN Parks is the Protected Areas Network

Qualmark Accreditation Program for New Zealand.

Smart Voyager for the Galapagos.

The Sustainable Tourism Association of Canada (STAC) developed Canada’s first national certification program. Much of the early work of the STAC’s sustainable tourism certification program was based on the Horizons ecotourism certification scheme from Saskatchewan, Canada. The standards were then projected against Australia and Costa Rica’s certification programs, Agenda 21 for the Travel and Tourism Industry, and the Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s (TIAC) Sustainable Tourism Guidelines. In addition, several tourism operators in Canada tested the standards at various stages of the development process. The framework of the standards came from TIAC’s guidelines, and the result is a clear, comprehensive certification program designed to reflect Canada’s environmental, social and cultural diversity.

The Green Flag Award is the national standard for parks and green spaces in England and Wales. The award scheme began in 1996 as a means of recognising and rewarding the best green spaces in the country. It was also seen as a way of encouraging others to achieve the same high environmental standards, creating a benchmark of excellence in recreational green areas. The award is managed by The Civic Trust on behalf of CABE Space, and it has backing in England from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, English Heritage, The Countryside Agency, English Nature, Calor; and in Wales, the Countryside Council for Wales.

Discussion Forums of Certification

Explore the Ecotourism Certification page (http://www.planeta.com/ecotravel/tour/certification.html) for more information of certification discussion forums.

This page was tossed together as a reference page. It is a work in progress. Contributions are very welcome. Send any comments and suggested links to: jshores (at) excite.com after changing the "(at)" to an arroba "@" symbol and removing the spaces. The preceeding is an attempt to foil any automated spam harvesting of the e-mail address.