Criteria: The Business has implemented a long-term sustainability management system that is suitable to its reality and scale, and that considers environmental, sociocultural, quality, health, and safety issues.
The first step toward embracing sustainable business practices entails creating a sustainability management system (SMS) that includes transparent, documented policies and procedures, implementation and communication plans. A well written sustainability policy will define and clearly communicate organizational goals and objectives as they relate to the business‚ environmental, socio-cultural, and economic performance. The primary purpose of the sustainability management plan is to guide decision-making, management, and the daily operations of the business in a sustainable manner.
Criteria: The Business is in compliance with all relevant international or local legislation and regulations (including, among others, health, safety, labor, and environmental aspects).
International and local legislation and regulation address many of the social and environmental negative practices associated with tourism operations. These include major labor conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO) covering freedom of association, no child labor, no forced or bonded labor, no discrimination, health and safety, work hours and minimum pay. This criteria is not an alternative to government regulation and national labor legislation, rather it is a complementary instrument that fills voids in the application, adherence and enforcement of critical social and environmental protections.
Criteria: All personnel receive periodic training regarding their role in the management of environmental, sociocultural, health, and safety practices.
The success of the business’ sustainability management system depends on the effective integration and internalization of the system by employees at all levels. A defined training program for all employees on the SMS aspects will enable employees to understand the business’ goals and objectives, why they’re important, and how they can positively contribute to the business’ efforts in each of their individual roles.
Criteria: Customer satisfaction is measured and corrective action taken where appropriate.
The customer is the central focus of the tourism experience. Their satisfaction should be eagerly sought in order to foment continued travel to a destination through return visits and word of mouth communication. Additionally, the customer provides a unique vantage point on the business’ operations that the management and business employees may not be able to provide. The business tools used to monitor customers’ satisfaction with internal operations, relations with the community and other stakeholders, and the effectiveness of sustainable programs enable the business to make improvements on a regular basis.
Criteria: Promotional materials are accurate and complete and do not promise more than can be delivered by the business.
Ethics in marketing dictate that all promotional tools should provide an honest representation of what services the business provides. In addition, they reflect the responsible and sustainable strategies that the business undertakes. Accurate information improves customer satisfaction by ensuring that expectations can be met.
Criteria: Comply with local land acquisition and land rights legislation and local zoning and protected or heritage area requirements.
Land used for buildings and operations should be acquired respecting traditional rights and local legislation. Local zoning defines how activities can be carried out in a community reflecting the community’s social, economic, and environmental needs, balanced with long-term sustainability. Alteration of protected and designated heritage sites is regulated through local zoning and legal requirements (local, national, and international conventions). Tourism operations must consider these zoning and area requirements to optimize community development plans, while minimizing impact.
Criteria: Use locally appropriate principles of sustainable construction and design while respecting the natural and cultural surroundings.
Local environmentally and economically sound design and development techniques should be integrated into the design and construction phase of the tourism operation for minimizing natural resource impacts as well as consideration of the potential socio-cultural and economic benefits.
- Locally appropriate tools and materials that minimize environmental impact
- Locally appropriate technologies that is used in buildings and for construction, including indigenous materials and technologies
- Development of local capacity – education, knowledge and experience – to use the materials, technologies, tools for sustainable construction
- Local involvement of all concerned stakeholders in the process of adoption and implementation of sustainable construction principles.
Enhancing the aesthetic, cultural, historic, and natural assets of a destination as well as ensuring that built structures and operations do not negatively impact adjoining lands and people is also an important factor in sustainable design. Businesses must also ensure universal access to its facilities and services to people with special needs.
Criteria: Information about and interpretation of the natural surroundings, local culture, and cultural heritage is provided to customers, as well as explaining appropriate behavior while visiting natural areas, living cultures, and cultural heritage sites.
Interpretation of the natural and cultural environment is not only important for educating visitors and protecting heritage, but a key factor for a high quality tourist experience marked by a high level of satisfaction (criterion A.4 addresses the need to measure it). Providing information to the customer to educate and inform about the surroundings is a key factor for tourism businesses.
Criteria: The Business has implemented a comprehensive communications strategy to inform visitors and guests on its sustainable policies, programs and initiatives.
A well written Communications Strategy will clearly communicate organizational goals and objectives as they relate to the business’ environmental, socio-cultural, and economic performance. It is important that all stakeholders including management, employees, customers and the local community understand the business’ goals and objectives, why they’re important, and how they can positively contribute to the business’ efforts in each of their individual roles.
Criteria: The Business ensures compliance with all relevant health and safety measures to ensure the well-being of its customers, staff and local community.
International and local legislation and regulation address many of the health and safety obligations associated with tourism operations. This criteria is not an alternative to government regulation and national health and safety legislation, rather it is a complementary instrument that fills voids in the application, adherence and enforcement of critical health and safety protections. The health and wellbeing of all stakeholders is a prime responsibility of all tourism businesses.