SITE member and sustainability champion, Miek Egberts, recently completed the 4-week online Sustainable Tourism Training Program run by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. She imparts her experience and learnings for us in this article.


For those of you who know me, you know that I am very engaged in sustainable development. I believe in a conscious, human-focused approach to all we do. In my opinion, it is an essential component in becoming a caring, resilient and thriving world.

For me, sustainability is a mindset and needs to be at the heart of everything we do. You need to apply it to everything you see around you. When you look at an area in your business, company or life, challenge yourself. Are you doing everything you can to be as sustainable as possible? Is there something you can improve? Sustainability is a journey, in constant evolution. The more I think about it, the more challenging it gets, but also the more captivating & interesting.

As the event & incentive travel industry, we must do our part too. This summer, as part of my journey to take sustainability to the next level, I enrolled in the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s ‘Sustainable Tourism Training Program’ (STTP). This consisted of 4 weeks of online training, from which I obtained a certificate in Sustainable Tourism.

Why enrol in the Sustainable Tourism Training Program?

I wanted to learn more about how to utilise the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s (GSTC) criteria as a framework for my company’s sustainability strategy.

  • How could I implement an effective plan?
  • How could I maximise the benefits of our sustainability actions? – for our team, destination partners, the local Monaco & French Riviera community, customers, as well as other stakeholders.
  • In essence, how could I turn sustainability goals into tangible performance outcomes?

Who are the Global Sustainable Tourism Council?

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is the global expert in standards for sustainable tourism. Founded in 2008 through collaborative efforts by sustainability leaders from UNEP, UNWTO, the UN Foundation and the Rainforest Alliance, the GSTC is an independent, not-for-profit organisation. It’s goals are to:

  • Promote sustainable tourism knowledge and practices
  • Facilitate the adoption of universal sustainable tourism principles
  • Build demand for sustainable travel

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) establishes and manages 2 global sustainable standards, known as the GSTC Criteria. These are:

  1. Destination Criteria for Public Policy-makers and Destination Managers
  2. Industry Criteria  for Hotels and Tour Operators

These are the guiding principles and minimum requirements that any tourism business or destination should aspire to. With these principles, we can strive to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources. Simultaneously, we can ensure that tourism meets its potential as a tool for conservation and poverty alleviation.

The GSTC globally recognised set of sustainable tourism principles and performance indicators can be used to:

  • Guide sustainable business practices, from product development to supply chain management.
  • Assist sustainability training and skills development efforts
  • Communicate to customers and to the media about sustainable business practices


The GSTC Criteria form the foundation for the accreditation provided by Certification Bodies. These bodies then certify hotels, tour operators, transport providers, as well as destinations on having sustainable policies and practices in place. GSTC does not directly certify any products or services; but provides an accreditation program through its partner ASI/Assurance Services International to accredit Certification Bodies.

Conclusion of Training

The GSTC training was extremely valuable to me. The Sustainable Tourism Training Programme (STTP) is excellently organised and facilitated by trainers who are very extremely knowledgeable. The STTP can help your business or destination achieve its sustainability goals by focusing on the long-term benefits of sustainable tourism, assisting you to successfully achieve sustainability performance goals over time.

We had a diverse group of industry professionals from around the world. I truly enjoyed the weekly live discussions, sharing of ideas, case studies, business cases and insights in the breakout sessions. These helped to show not only how we can support sustainable tourism, but also how to play an active role in helping our industry to “build back better”. It was great to connect with so many like minded people who want to drive change in our industry and I recommend it to all tourism professionals who want to implement sustainable tourism in their fields.

Together, not only can we advance the sustainability agenda within our SITE community, but also within our own companies, destinations and incentive programmes. It is my desire that each of us achieves our ambitious goals and targets so that we can move towards a fully sustainable, regenerative future. I hope to inspire YOU to do the same.

If you would like to know more about the GSTC Industry Criteria or the GSTC Sustainable Tourism Training Programme, please visit or of course, you can reach out to me directly on

Written by Miek Egberts, Founder of InspireME, Monte Carlo, a DMC Network Affiliate

For more articles on Motivate, please see our repository here, covering topics like SustainabilityWellnessCase StudiesIndustry Member InterviewsCovid-19 related change, and many more general words of wisdom!