More than 6,000 hotels in Turkey (Türkiye) have been certified to stage one of the country’s groundbreaking sustainable tourism programme, developed with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).
No more than a few thousand hotels worldwide have achieved full certification to these standards to date. But by the end of September, 6,156 of Turkey’s 22,000 properties – mainly in Antalya, İstanbul and Muğla – had been certified to stage-one compliance, meeting 14 GSTC criteria.
They won’t be able to rest there though. Stage-two compliance requires they meet 28 criteria, and stage three 42 criteria for full certification.
The GSTC is responsible for setting and managing the global sustainability standards for travel and tourism and has partnered with Cappadocia University to train hundreds of auditors and up to 1,000 verifiers.
Its partnership with Turkey on a national sustainable tourism programme is the first of its kind and forms part of a three-year plan to restructure the country’s tourism industry. The primary goal is to ensure all hotels obtain a Sustainable Tourism Certificate for full compliance with GSTC criteria by 2030, with certification subject to independent evaluation and repeated regularly.
Hotels are evaluated for their sustainable management and cultural, socio-economic and environmental impacts, including prioritising local and fair-trade suppliers, minimising water and energy consumption, managing waste, implementing recycling and protecting biodiversity.
They are also expected to protect cultural heritage, enable guests to interact with local culture, support the regional economy, encourage local employment and promote local purchasing.
GSTC chief executive Randy Durband hailed “a wave of certification”, telling the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance conference in London last week: “Turkey has mandated that all the hotels in the country be certified to a GSTC-accredited scheme by 2030. Every hotel must enter. It’s externally certified, [and] those already at stage one can’t stay there. It’s going along beautifully.”
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