Introduction to Hotel Sustainability Certifications

Sustainability certifications for hotel industry players are becoming increasingly important for hotels to signal a high level of sustainability performance and commitment. Globally, there are a number of credible, external sustainability certifications aimed at the hotel industry.

This page provides an overview of the benefits of obtaining sustainability certification for hotels, as well as general steps that hotels can take to prepare for certification. Additionally, it outlines some of the most common certifications available in the hospitality sector.

Benefits and Types of Certifications

Hospitality, like all other industries, has a significant impact on the environment and socio-economic factors. As a leading industry in Singapore, hospitality has the responsibility to operate sustainably and reduce negative impacts on the environment and society. Hotel operations often consume high amounts of resources, generate waste, and emit greenhouse gases, which can harm the environment and contribute to climate change.

Hotel certification provides a framework for assessing and improving hotels’ environmental and social performance. Certification schemes can vary in application, region, complexity, and price. Despite their common focus on sustainability, the degree of emphasis on sustainability criteria may vary among hotel certifications. These criteria include energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, community engagement, heritage and biodiversity conservation, sustainable procurement, accountability, and human resources practices, architecture, and design, and more.

Major hotel brands are increasingly attaining relevant global and local sustainability certifications and have come to understand these potential benefits:

General Steps to Prepare for Hotel Sustainability Certifications

Here are some general steps that will be helpful in preparing and obtaining a hotel sustainability certification. It's worth noting that the specific steps to obtaining a hotel sustainability certification may vary depending on the certification(s) and the organization offering the certification.

Popular and Recognised Hotel Sustainability Certifications


The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) certification is a global standard for sustainability in travel and tourism. The GSTC is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2007 with the aim of promoting sustainable tourism practices worldwide. The GSTC certification program provides a framework for businesses and destinations to evaluate and improve their sustainability practices, and to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable tourism to travellers and other stakeholders.

The GSTC has developed a set of criteria for sustainable tourism that are globally applicable and cover four key areas: sustainable management, social and economic benefits, cultural heritage, and environmental sustainability. The criteria are designed to be flexible and adaptable to different types of tourism businesses and destinations, including hotels, tour operators, and destinations.

Certification for Hotel/Accommodation

Hotels that are certified indicates that they meet the highest social and environmental standards on the market. In order to achieve certification as a sustainable hotel, full compliance with GSTC requirements (GSTC Industry Criteria for Hotels | GSTC ( is necessary, and this must be verified by an Accredited Certification Body. For information on the certification process and a list of Accredited Certification Bodies, hotels may visit the GSTC website. (Hotels/Accommodations - Become Certified | GSTC (

Reference: Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC): Criteria, Standards, Certifications (

GSTC Recognized Standards

There are other sustainable tourism standards in the market that are GSTC-Recognized Standards. GSTC-Recognized Standards are sustainable tourism standards that has been reviewed by GSTC technical experts and the GSTC Assurance Panel, and deemed equivalent to the GSTC Criteria for sustainable tourism. For the list of GSTC Recognized Standards, hotels may visit GSTC website as follows: GSTC-Recognized Standards & Systems for Hotels | GSTC (

Hotels should note that GSTC Certification and GSTC Recognized Standards are different. Hotels can click here Certification, Accreditation, Recognition | GSTC ( to learn more about the differences.