What is the value of setting standards for sustainable tourism? How many sets of standards does the world need? How are standards created? What about the role of certification? How can one distinguish the quality of the various standards and certification schemes from others? These are among the myriad questions we are frequently asked at Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), created by the United Nations. And these are questions we will endeavour to answer in this chapter. Standards are important and often essential in many organizations and producers of products and services. Tourism involves an extremely complex and varied web of services, products, and service-providers, most of which relate to intangible elements of client satisfaction, perceptions, service levels. Sustainability includes not only environmental aspects, but also social, economic, and cultural aspects. Standards are needed to sort all that out, but also simply to define sustainability in a holistic way. This chapter is an attempt to provide overviews of all these considerations.
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