The concept of sustainability: Definition of Sustainable Tourism, CST, 1997
The development of sustainable tourism must be seen as the balanced interaction between the use of our natural and cultural resources, the improvement of the quality of life among the local communities, and the economic success of the industry, which also contributes to national development. Sustainable tourism is not only a response to demand, but also an imperative condition to successfully compete now and in the future. (Definition of Sustainable Tourism, CST, 1997)
The CST – Certificate for Sustainable Tourism (Certificado para la Sostenibilidad Turística) is a certification program which certifies tourism businesses, evaluating the degree to which there operations are sustainable. The criteria and indicators used to evaluate the degree of sustainability, are distributed among 4 fundamental areas:
1) Physical and Biological Environment
The CST evaluates how the business interacts with the surrounding natural environment. Does the company implement sustainable policies and programs, does it contribute to the protection of the environment, does it seek to reduce it’s negative impact etc.?
2) Internal Processes and Practices, Facilities, Infrastructure
Among others, in this area the CST evaluates the waste management of the business and the technologies used (e.g. energy & water saving appliances?) Another criteria involves the characteristics of the cleaning supply (biodegradable?) and other materials, foods which are regularly bought (ecological?) and whether the personnel is being informed and involved in all related sustainability efforts of the business.
3) The Client
The CST evaluates the efforts that the business takes to encourage the client to participate in the implementation of the business's sustainability policies.
4) Socio-Economic Environment
This area includes an evaluation of the interaction of the business with the local community. Does the company contribute to the growth and development of the region, e.g. by generating employment, giving environmental education to local schools, donations or other benefits; does it buy locally and support local, small businesses?
For the classification of the business a scale from 1 to 5 levels („green leaves“) is used. The lowest score is represented by 1 leave (level), the highest possible score is level 5.
Important to know: For each of the above 4 fundamental areas, the percentage of criteria achieved, will be calculated. The final score (= number of levels), will correspond to the classification of the area with the lowest percentage. E.g., if a business achieves more than 95% in the first three areas, but only 35% in the forth area (Socio-economic environment), the final score and CST Certificate will be just 1 level.
Aventuras Tierra Verde: As part of our own commitment and efforts regarding the sustainable operation of our travel programs, we will preferably use CST-certified hotels, which are committed to responsible practices, in our itineraries. Therefore, you will note, that in our hotel directory we list CST-certified hotels and lodges first. Until now, certified hotels are not available in all regions (or – if available, not necessarily appropriate for all clients profiles and wishes). This is why the accommodations used in our travel programs are partly hotels and lodges which are not yet certified, or which have not concluded the certification process / are waiting for the final evaluation.
For more information on the CST certification process (available in English, Spanish, French and German):