Focusing on Corporate Social Responsibility, TourCert Offers German, European Standard for Ecotourism

Formulated by social responsibility experts in the tourism industry, universities, political realm, environmental policy and development organizations, TourCert awards certifications to organizations that specify how their business activities impact social and ecological programs.

TourCert is a non-profit organization that partners with four other non-profits based in Germany. These partners are focused on the issues surrounding forest management, sustainable tourism, tourism research, climate change and ethical tourism. Collectively, they form an independent certification council that develops standards and controls for awarding tourism businesses.

TourCert is a GSTC-Recognized certification that also is compatible with ISO 26000 for Social Responsibility, ISO 14001 Environmental Management System, the reporting standards of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Eco Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) of the European Union.

TourCert Criteria

In order to be certified, guiding companies, travel agencies and accommodation owners must meet the following criteria:

  • Naming a person who is responsible for the CSR-system (CSR-representative)
  • Publishing a mission statement
  • Implementing a program for improvement (must be updated yearly)
  • Signing the Code of conduct against sexual exploitation of children
  • Implementing a supplier code of conduct on sustainability standards with suppliers
  • Institute regular training of staff on sustainable tourism
  • Implement green electricity standards
  • Offset at least 50% of business carbon emissions
  • Actively promote sustainable travel with customers
  • Documentation of the following:
    • carbon emissions per guest and per employee per day,
    • percentage of customer payment that stays in the destination,
    • quality of customer information,
    • customer satisfaction response rates, and
    • sustainability indices of partners, guides and accommodations

TourCert certified villa-hotel located on Santorini and featured in our trip through the Greek Isles

TourCert Certification Process

Although not mandatory, there is in-person training available in preparation for the certification. There are three steps toward certification:

  1. Tourism business submits a sustainability report with supporting documentation to an independent external auditor who evaluates the validity of the report against the criteria 
  2. The external auditor prepares a report, which contains recommendations for improvement as well as a comparison of the company’s performance against benchmark data, and provides the report to the company as well as to the certification council
  3. The certification council decides whether to grant certification based on the reports submitted as well as the time frame that the company must undergo re-authorization.

Click here for a listing of certified companies (mostly in Germany).

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