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Road to Certification

Embark on your sustainable certification journey with us

Sustainable Tourism Certification in the green economy

In a highly competitive era, branding has become a major communication tool for corporates to sell their products in an international context to a broad consumer audience. Additionally, sustainable certification of the respective businesses acknowledges companies’ efforts and dedication to become greener businesses. This in turn requires product or company endorsements by independent quality guarantee bodies that ensure that no greenwashing practices are being implemented.

Today there are more than 150+ sustainability certificates that SMEs can choose in the process of voluntary certification, that can be chosen depending on the SMEs individual needs and circumstances. Almost all have been oriented to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the world of sustainability certification is increasingly seen as essential to the development of sustainable production and consumption in the circular Green Economy.

For example, if you wanted to know that the beach you choose to go on for your next holiday meets a certain level of quality or a standard, you can use the Blue Flag Award as guidance for your choice. Equally, those in charge of beaches can use the same system to ensure the area in their care meets these same quality standards. A certification process becomes the tool for both supply and demand verification, enabling product and services consumption and production to follow specific moral and ethical principles and value systems.

In 2009 the Global Council for Sustainable Tourism Certification (GSTC) was established in a multi-stakeholder process to make sense of the wide variety of certificates and the difficult subject of subjective sustainability theory. A series of criteria and indicators were developed to objectively measure the state and performance of sustainable development in a company or destination, and in doing so ensure the values of responsible and sustainable development are being followed in a transparent manner.


SMEs' Road to Certification - pilot phase and post-project phase

In order to briefly summarise the path undertaken by the tourism businesses as part of their enrolment into the ETGG2030 Programme, it could be explained as follows:

  1. Launch of an SME Call for selection of tourism SMEs, application process, evaluation, and selection of 70 SMEs (applicable only to the Pilot edition of the ETGG2030 Programme)
  2. Implementation of a training programme on sustainable certification and sustainable tourism management for SMEs through self-training, also involving the ETGG2030 Expert Coaches and the project consortium, and access to online materials and helpful tools
  3. During the pilot implementation phase, part of the sustainable certification training is being shaped in-situ in the framework of three national workshops, conducted and supported by the ETGG2030 Expert Coaches and the national consortium partners. In the post-project phase, such workshops could still be organised in case of a sufficient number of interested participants. Otherwise, a tailored bilateral support shall be prioritised.
  4. Self-assessment of the SMEs, implemented in symbiosis with the ETGG2030 Expert Coaches (as done during the pilot phase; in the post-project phase the expert support will be upon request), through the use of a GSTC self-compliant tool called R U Ready for Certification? to get a first orientation with the GSTC industry criteria that are part of most of the sustainable certification schemes. The R U Ready for Certification? tool is mainly being used for self-assessment purposes and to address in advance some potential weaknesses that SMEs may need to overcome with the help of the ETGG2030 Expert Coaches (upon request in the post-project phase).
  5. Application for sustainable certification and audit, according to the procedure of the chosen certification body.

By enrolling in the ETGG2030 Programme in future, each SME will receive similar support and continuous access to the available education materials and other valuable resources, as part of the ETGG2030 Going Green System. Your SME can also benefit from various kind of interactions with supporting stakeholders in the framework of organised workshops and/or webinars, including but not limited to expert coaches, whose support can be sought upon request (please refer to the 10 main steps and activities below to learn more about what you can expect from the programme in the post-project phase and the support you could receive thanks to the use of the ETGG2030 Going Green System).

An updated list of the 10 steps in the post-project phase for summary and clarification purposes will soon be available on the website.

Pilot ETGG2030 Programme edition: Main steps and activities

  • Step 1 Interview with the expert to explain the preliminary SME call self-assessment information (ETGG2030 Baseline Assessment Report)
  • Step 2 Interview with your expert and fill out in the R U Ready for certification?' tool the GSTC Industry criteria as "RUReady for Certification?" self assessment and explain it to your expert for completion.
  • Step 3 Receive information from the Certification Quickfinder section on the Tourism 2030 portal on available certificate options with your expert understand certificate differences and preselect potential certificate(s).
  • Step 4 Arrange on-site assessment with the expert.
  • Step 5 Receive on-site expert assessment of your information including a 3-5 year sustainability implementation business plan with continuous annual review, to be entered in the RUReady for certification? tool.
  • Step 6 Update your assessment information with your expert in the R U Ready for certification? tool.
  • Step 7 Make the final choice of an appropriate certificate out of the Certification Quickfinder section on the Tourism 2030 portal together with the expert.
  • Step 8 Develop a certification preparation action plan to be ready for certification audit.
  • Step 9 Get online advise from the expert to realise the action plan and get approval of the realisation so that you can apply for certification and undertake the audit.
  • Step 10 Once proof of certification is received, the ETGG 2030 team will confirm your successful participation and your SME will be published on the Green Travel Maps.
    The expert will complete together with you the SME achievement report.

Third Party Audit and Certification

Credibility & Transparency

Since the Covid-19 pandemic more national and international tourism organisations, tour operators and booking services than before are interested and feel encouraged to promote green travel options to the consumers.

The following list shows national and international certification programmes that are offered to accommodation providers, camping sites, tour operators and similar services in the 6 ETGG2030 countries. They are providing a high level of credibility and transparency.

Recommended certificates for your tourism business