GSTC publishes global sustainability criteria for meetings and events

The (GSTC) has published sustainability criteria for the meetings, conferences and events (MICE) sector for the first time.

GSTC Criteria set global standards for travel and tourism sustainability, aimed at developing a common understanding of sustainable practices for the industry worldwide.

The latest set of criteria is the third to be released, adding to the GTSC Industry Criteria for hotels and tour operators and Destinations Criteria, with a fourth set for attractions currently in development.

The MICE criteria, developed with support from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), are aimed at venues, event organisers and exhibitions and for use in education and awareness-raising, policy-making, measurement and evaluation, and certification.

GSTC chief executive Randy Durband noted the release followed “a year of dedicated work and effort” and said: “Let’s seize this opportunity to significantly advance the MICE industry’s journey towards sustainability.”

He suggested the growth of the MICE industry and “escalating demand for sustainable tourism” made it “imperative” to establish universal guidelines for sustainable practices in the sector.

Durband hailed the STB as “a key contributor” to developing the criteria and said they “are the minimum that any MICE business should aspire to attain”.

Singapore Tourism Board deputy chief executive Yap Chin Siang added: “Our collaboration with the GSTC to develop the criteria underscores Singapore’s commitment to sustainable tourism.

“I strongly urge all stakeholders in the MICE ecosystem to embrace the criteria.”

The STB launched a MICE Sustainability Roadmap in 2022 with local guidelines on best practice in setting waste management goals, reducing types of waste and better managing carbon emissions.

GSTC criteria take account of sustainable tourism standards and guidelines around the world and the MICE criteria were widely consulted on during their development, reflecting the GSTC’s “goal of attaining a global consensus” on sustainable tourism.

Work on the criteria began in September 2022, with development beginning in earnest from April last year.

Sukumar Verma, vice president for industry and enterprise at the Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (SACEOS) which also took part in the process, said: “The GSTC MICE Criteria will be instrumental in accelerating sustainable practices throughout the MICE sector.”

The GSTC plans an ‘Early Adopter Programme’ for the criteria, to run for two years, allowing industry players the opportunity to apply the criteria and exchange knowledge and experience.

Details on the programme will be announced soon.

Criteria in three parts

The GSTC is a non-profit organisation created by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and charged with developing sustainable tourism standards and programmes to drive their adoption.

It produced GSTC Industry Criteria for hotels and tour operators in 2008, which were most recently updated in 2016, and Destination Criteria in 2013, updated in 2019.

The MICE Criteria come in three parts – for venues, event organisers, and events and exhibitions – with performance indicators and guidance on measuring compliance.

They aim to: help define sustainability; serve as a basis for certification; provide guidelines for MICE businesses on becoming more sustainable, including guidance on identifying more sustainable suppliers and service providers; help consumers identify sustainable MICE businesses; serve as a common denominator for recognising sustainable MICE businesses; and provide guidelines for education and training.

GSTC criteria are translated into multiple languages and available to download from the GSTC website.

The criteria are available free for non-commercial use. However, the GSTC reserves the right to assess and charge for their commercial use.

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