The Global Sustainable Tourism Council awarded Costa Rica worldwide recognition for its permanent efforts in the development and consolidation of sustainable tourism. Accreditation is for the standard of the Certificate of Sustainable Tourism (CST) of the Costa Rican Tourism Institute.
The main advantage in obtaining this award is the increase in international credibility of the CST standard, which is aligned to the universal criteria for sustainable management, social and economic benefits for the local community, preservation of cultural heritage and reduction of pollution.
The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) manages the GSTC Criteria, global baseline standards for sustainability in travel and tourism; and it acts as an international accreditation body for sustainable tourism certification.
Our country has been recognized globally for being a destination that bet on sustainable tourism as a differentiating and fundamental element for the positioning of the destination, evolving year after year from ecotourism, to a more comprehensive conceptualization that promotes the roots of ecological awareness in tourist companies and the environment, with tangible actions of sustainability and balance that is reflected in the communities, to generate productive chains, as well as unique and valuable experiences for tourists.
“The Global Sustainable Tourism Council is one of the most important organizations in its branch. This week we received the pleasant news that the Tourism Sustainability Certificate of the ICT granted the recognition, where it is officialized that our technical tool meets the highest standards,” explained Virgilio Espinoza, Head of the Department of Tourism Certifications and Social Responsibility of the ICT.
Espinoza expressed his satisfaction with the work done to obtain this international award that places the CST on a higher echelon. “This recognition tells the world that Costa Rica continues to strengthen with great dedication its transversal axis of sustainability that has highlighted it in the world in recent years,” he concluded.
Country gains credibility
The official letter from the GSTC received by the ICT indicates: “The Global Council for Sustainable Tourism (GSTC) is pleased to report that the standard entitled Certifications and Socially Responsible Tourism of Costa Rica, Standard 2.0 of the CST has been fully recognized as equivalent to the complete set of CMG Industry Criteria (GSTC-I) ”.
It also highlights that the purpose of GSTC programs is to reward true professionals in sustainable tourism, which in turn builds trust and credibility with consumers, thus allowing the CST standard to be validated as a global sustainability standard through the GSTC criteria.
These criteria establish standards for sustainability in travel and tourism worldwide and contribute to a tourist destination being recognized as sustainable in the field of travelers, business development, international volunteer programs and serve as a starting point in the development of governmental, non-governmental and private programs to elaborate the basic requirements of sustainable tourism from a comprehensive perspective.
According to the GSTC, the fundamental pillars of the criteria are the social, cultural and environmental impact, as well as sustainability management, pillars that intertwine and coincide with the pillars that gave life to the standard of the Certificate of Tourist Sustainability created by the ICT.
CST’s sustainable footprint
The CST standard is a technical tool, whose objective is to strengthen sustainable tourist activity in Costa Rica; It was created by the ICT in 1997. It is a recognition of the excellent management of lodging, gastronomic, tour operators, theme parks, companies that rent vehicles, coastal marine tour operators, hot springs and spa companies, institutions, and organizations, as well as protected areas that actively work to mitigate the impacts resulting from its operation.
This voluntary certification enhances the strengthening of social, cultural, environmental, economic, and development work in tourist destinations. The CST is valid for 2 years and the criteria and indicators that are valued to grant the certification include business management, social, cultural and economic management, environmental management, and management of specific indicators according to the category, the entire process is digitized to obtain the basic or elite level.
Currently, the CST has approximately 400 tourist companies, which will retain their certification until January 2021, with ICT support in these days of COVID-19 and as long as the companies do not lower the standards.