Japan Sustainable Tourism Standard for Destinations is now a GSTC-Recognized Standard

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) announced that the Japan Sustainable Tourism Standard for Destinations (JSTS-D) has achieved the ‘GSTC-Recognized Standard’ status.

The Japan Sustainable Tourism Standard for Destinations (JSTS-D) which is based on the GSTC Criteria for Destinations, was developed by Japan Tourism Agency (JTA), Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism during 2019. JSTS-D consists of 47 criteria with added Japan-specific features. The standard development committee consisted of academia, UNWTO, JNTO, JICA, JATA, local governments, JTA departments, and was chaired by Dr. Kumi Kato — who last year was elected to the GSTC Board of Directors by GSTC’s members. JSTS-D was compiled as a comprehensive booklet, including a range of resources, how-to use manual, good practices, glossary, templates, and useful links.

As part of the development and implementation project, a national survey was conducted among Japan’s 1765 local governments to benchmark the state of sustainability nationally.

During 2020, JTA funded 5 “model destinations” with specific tasks: (1) implementation of JSTS-D in the tourism policy; (2) GSTC Sustainable Tourism training; and (3) administering a sustainable tourism project. In total 89 people (from local governments, business, DMOs/DMCs) participated in the training.

Proving to be a great success, JTA has significantly expanded the project for 2021, selecting further 15 “model destinations” ranging from a small island to a consortium-type DMOs in diverse economic, social and environmental contexts. The project will be led by a newly established company formed through the gained expertise and experiences. Further plans to utilize the JSTS-D include a platform in university education for skill developments, and developing a web-based application for assessments of Japanese destinations.

The GSTC-Recognized status refers to the standard itself and means that a sustainable tourism standard or system has been reviewed by GSTC technical experts and the GSTC Assurance Panel and deemed the standard or system equivalent to the GSTC Criteria for sustainable tourism. It shows that the set of standards are based on the 4 pillars of the GSTC Criteria: Environment, Social, Cultural, and Management principles. This does not relate to the process of certification, nor to accreditation.

“JTA has taken a very organized and systematic approach to helping the hundreds of destinations within Japan to operate more sustainably. That includes applying standards that comply with the GSTC Criteria, training destination managers holistically on sustainable management practices, and developing an entire system of rewards and support for continuous improvement,” says Randy Durband, GSTC CEO.

“We will continue to promote JSTS-D in Japan, respecting the GSTC’s philosophy, so that we can proudly claim to be ‘a sustainable tourism nation’ to the world,” says Mr. Ono Hajime, Chief Official, Office of Director for Travel Promotion, JTA.

“JSTS-D will no doubt build sustainable tourism capacity throughout the country, and will lead Japan’s sustainability commitment nationally,” adds Dr. Kumi Kato, Wakayama University Faculty of Tourism Professor, and GSTC Board Member.

Currently, 12 destination standards, 32 hotel standards, and 16 tour operator standards have achieved GSTC-Recognized status. The status offers the market a proof that these standards adhere to international norms. GSTC Recognition does not ensure that a certification process is reliable, only that the set of standards used to certify are equivalent to the GSTC Criteria. GSTC-Recognized standard owners are encouraged to follow and complete the accreditation process, which assures that the certification process used to apply the standard meets international best practice, transparent, and rigor.

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