Becoming certified

Written in collaboration with Dr. Anna Spenceley, Chair of IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist (TAPAS) Group, Board Member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)

Updated 1 month ago

If you’d like to take your sustainability commitment to the next level, becoming certified is an ideal way to do it. Certification is a reflection of your dedication – and a credible badge of excellence your guests can trust. 

The process involves working with a certification body, who will collaborate with you to make sure you meet their established standards for sustainable tourism. When you’ve officially met these standards, your property will receive a certificate along with a digital version for you to share online.

We’re currently working with the GSTC on how best to recognise and display certifications on, so that certified partners can be easily spotted by guests looking for a sustainable stay.

Four benefits of certification

1. It reassures guests that your claims are credible –  62% of guests surveyed by said they would feel better staying at a property if they knew it had an eco-label. An official certification adds credibility to your sustainability initiatives. It reassures travellers that they’ll be staying somewhere that cares about environmental best practices and isn’t just ‘greenwashing’ (making false claims).  

2. It can help you identify gaps in your sustainability plans – The requirements of certification can help you prioritise key improvement areas or address things you hadn’t thought about yet. By achieving certified status, you can be sure that you’re on the right track.   

3. Certified properties achieve more positive results – A 2017 study from TUI, conducted in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme, evaluated the environmental and social benefits of sustainability certifications across 330 hotels. They found that, compared to the non-certified properties, certified properties achieved:

  • 10% lower CO2 emissions per guest night
  • 24% lower waste volume per guest night
  • 15% less total water use per guest night
  • Higher guest satisfaction scores overall  

4. It can make your team feel more engaged – When it comes to achieving and maintaining certification, everybody at your property will need to work together to implement the required standards. This gives your team a shared purpose and the chance to meaningfully contribute to the sustainability of the business.

How can I become certified?

There are lots of different certification bodies offering certifications around the world. We’d recommend selecting one that is officially recognised or accredited by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), an international organisation that establishes and manages standards for sustainable tourism. For their recognition and accreditation programmes, they verify that certification bodies’ standards comprehensively include:

Sustainable management
Socio-economic impact
Cultural impact
Environmental impact (including consumption of resources, reducing pollution, and conserving biodiversity and landscapes)


How much does certification cost?

Each certification body sets their prices individually. Some bodies offer certification for free – often when the certification is provided by a governmental department. Others offer a discount for smaller properties, or for multiple properties in the same group.

Discover our other sustainability guides:


Setting the environmental baseline

In the journey towards sustainability, your baseline is like your compass. It’s only once you’ve measured your performance – for example in carbon emissions or water consumption – that you can start to set goals and plan how to reach them.

Show me how

plastic in water

Reducing plastic consumption

It’s now easier now than ever to run your property without plastic – and it’s never more important. Plastic takes years to break down, harms wildlife and damages the environment. This guide will show you how to protect both by reducing your plastic consumption.

How can I start?


Reducing water consumption

Fresh water is becoming increasingly scarce. That’s why we need to start cutting water consumption today – and it’s going to take more than just asking guests to reuse towels. But the environmental and financial upsides are worth the investment.

Tell me more

What do you think of this page?